Broadband — or high-speed — Internet service has seen a rise in popularity over the last decade, becoming a standard communication service over its slower counter-part, dial-up Internet. You can use the broadband vs. dial-up chart on this page to learn the differences between each type of Internet connectivity and decide whether or not to move into the high-speed era.
Broadband Internet has a varying amount of speeds, but is typically defined as being anything over 256 kilobits per second (kbps), although this number is moving up every few years as faster speeds become more prominent. This can go all the way up to a speed as fast as several megabits per second (Mbps), depending on the type of Internet service you choose.
Dial-up Internet is a way of connecting to the Internet by dialing into your service through a phone line. Dial-up modem speeds are much slower than those of broadband, and top out at 56 kbps, which won't allow you to do many of the things on the Web very quickly, such as streaming video and downloading songs.
The equipment needed for broadband Internet service will change with the different services and high-speed Internet providers. In general, DSL high-speed connections require DSL modems plus a phone line. Cable high-speed Internet requires a cable connection and a cable modem. Fiber-optic high-speed Internet connects via an Optical Network Terminal and a fiber-optic router.
Dial-up requires even less equipment than broadband, but that's to be expected with service that isn't nearly as fast. All you need is a telephone line and a 56k modem device in your computer, and then you can start dialing in to access your Internet. However, this means your connection won’t be "always on" as it is with broadband.
Broadband availability has become more and more widespread over the last few years in particular. No matter where you live, there is more than likely a way for you to start browsing at high-speeds, whether it's through cable, DSL, or fiber-optic. If none of those are available, satellite Internet is always an option for more rural areas that haven't been expanded to yet. Enter your address to see your high-speed Internet availability!
In terms of availability, dial-up can be accessed anywhere with a telephone line. Even then, it might tie up your phone line to keep you from missing important calls, and you might not be able to do everything on the Internet that you would like to do, such as playing games online or downloading large files from your e-mail.