Just as the number of people using the Internet on a daily basis has grown at a staggering pace, the number of ways people can access the Internet has increased. We connect to the Internet via dial-up, broadband (accessed via cable, fiber optic or copper wires), Wi-Fi, satellite, and mobile 3G and 4G technology.
In the earliest days of the Internet (the early 1990s), dial-up was the only way people could connect to the Internet. The term "dial-up" comes from the actual dial-up sound heard when a connection is established. Dial-up is the slowest and most inexpensive way to access the Internet.
As more and more people download music, stream videos and spend more of their lives online, they are quickly moving to broadband Internet service, which provides a much faster connection with higher bandwidth to send more data faster over the Internet. Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time. It's measured in Megabits per second, or Mbps. Broadband service, often referred to as high-speed Internet service, is offered at different speeds, generally from 2Mbps to 40Mbps. If your customers plan to stream videos online or download large files, a higher Mbps connection will enable them to do this faster.
Customers with a broadband connection can also get wireless Internet service, commonly referred to as Wi-Fi. With Wi-Fi, they can connect laptops, tablet computers, HDTVs, Blu-ray players and other devices to the Internet wirelessly.
Mobile broadband, available in 3G or 4G, is another way people can connect to the Internet. We'll go into greater detail on this shortly.
Customers with laptops, tablets and other portable wireless devices can easily access the Internet outside the home. Libraries, cafes, fast-food restaurants and some cities offer Wi-Fi, often allowing customers to access the Internet for free.