Broadband is offered in 4 major flavors today: Cable, DSL, Fios and Satellite. There is a lot of confusion between these, so here's what you need to know.
Cable can offer not just TV, but internet and landline VOIP (Voice Over IP; ie. internet telephone) telephone services as well, depending on your cable company and what package options they offer. There are a few main differences between cable and the alternative DSL and Fios options. Cable uses a copper line from the cable company to a junction box in your neighborhood or apartment building/condo complex and is split amoung your neighbors and you. As such, the bandwidth is shared with all your neighbors. Thus, if a few select people are gaming or doing heaving downloading, everyone else's bandwidth degrades.
DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line and is for internet connectivity only, not for TV. It uses the regular telephone copper wire between the phone company and your home. You must have regular telephone service from your phone company in order to get DSL, but your telephone itself does not use it since it is just for internet access. Unlike cable, this line is dedicated to your dwelling so is not shared with your neighbors. It is typically slower than cable and Fios but is faster than satellite. It is the least expensive of these options.
Fios stands for Fiber Optic Service and is offered by Verizon. It is called by other names by other companies like AT&T and Qwest. Fios can be used for TV, internet and your landline phone. A fiber optic cable is run from the phone company to your house, so it is dedicated and thus bandwidth is not shared with your neighbors. If you install Fios, you MUST use the fiber optic telephone service since it replaces your regular copper-based landline phone. You still get a landline phone but it will be fiber based vs. copper based. It is the fastest of the three options because signals run through fiber optic cables and thus travel literally at the speed of light! Fios does come with a backup battery for when the power goes out, enabling you to make phone calls, watch TV and access the internet for a limited time. ***Of the four broadband options, Fios is the fastest and best option*** The downside of Fios is that when the power goes out and backup battery runs out, your landline phone won't work (with your old copper-based telephone you could still make calls). But you always have your cellphone!
Satellite currently only offers TV and Internet. Internet-wise, it is the slowest and most expensive of these options. Placement of the satellite dish MUST have a direct line-of-sight view of the satellite. This means the dish must be able to communicate with the satellite via a 100% unobstructed view. This means no trees, buildings and the like can be between your dish and the satellite. If you live in an extremely rural part of the world, like way out in the country, satellite may be your only option.
There are other considerations, especially when installing these in your home (placement, etc), so call TheGotoTechGuru for help!
I love technology and how it enhances our lives! Just think, without the Apollo moon missions, we might not have calculators! Imagine!!