When it comes to Internet service, speed is king. Consumers want faster, better and cheaper, and thy want it now. The good news for customers is that technology is keeping up with demand, and the abundance of choices in service providers is making access less expensive and more reliable for all. The bad news is, unless you’re pretty tech savvy, all this talk about Internet speed can be a little confusing, and lack of clarity makes true choice more difficult for the average person.

Unless you’re one of the relatively few people who only have access to dial-up service, you’re on a network that provides broadband. The term broadband relates to how much information you can access within a specified time-frame, not how fast the router provides information from your source.

Not all broadband using the same technology, so your Internet speed will depend on which of these technologies your company uses:

  • DSL
  • Cable modem
  • Fiber optic networks
  • Satellite
  • White space
  • WiFi

When a sales rep talks about their 24mb availability, most of us smile and nod , with little idea of what that means.

What Does Speed Really Mean?

To make comparison a little easier, we’ll use the slowest and highest bandwidth currently available in most markets; speeds can fall anywhere within these perimeters, and the options vary from provider to provider.

At a rate of 256kbps, you can expect it to take about three seconds for a web page to load, 1.5 minutes to download a song and poor video streaming. The other end of the spectrum is 100mb broadband service, which offers instantaneous page loading and downloads, and ultra-fast, high-quality video streaming. The reason for this wide disparity has to do with the diameter of the broadband cable. Greater bandwidth relates to the amount of information that can pass at once, not how fast it goes. So more bandwidth offers you greater efficiency by transmitting more data at any given time and giving the appearance of greater speed.

Local and regional service providers are in competition for your business, so examples like AT&T U-verse for Palo Alto are more easy to find in your neck or the woods. When shopping for service, find a company that provides custom plans that are suitable for your use. In the world of private or corporate communications, one-size solutions simply don’t work.