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The phrase “high-speed internet” is tossed around all the time. But what does it actually mean for your home network connection?

Here’s the easy answer.

High-speed internet is a general term used to describe any web connection that’s faster than dial-up. But dial-up is dated. (Like, shoulder pads and leg warmers dated.) With today’s tech, virtually any non-dial-up internet connection would fit this definition of high-speed.

Let’s get technical.

Usually, when someone mentions high-speed internet, they’re referring to a broadband connection. (Warning: tech jargon ahead, proceed with caution.) A broadband connection has the capacity to transmit multiple channels of digital data through a single medium. Telephone lines, coaxial cables and fiber-optic networks can simultaneously transmit different signals (usually home phone, TV or internet) through a single connection. So, all three platforms have high-speed broadband potential—even though the speeds they actually deliver can vary.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)

DSL delivers your internet connection via telephone wires. Since DSL was one of the first developments to outdo dial-up, this is typically what internet service providers are referring to when they advertise high-speed internet subscriptions.

Cable

If you have cable television, you’re already familiar with the copper coaxial wires that transfer picture and sound to your TV. These cords can deliver internet, too. A cable connection is generally faster than DSL, but there’s one caveat. Since cable lines are shared, your internet speeds may slow down when lots of people are online.

Fiber optics

Fiber optics use thin, ultra-fast glass fibers to transfer data. This type of connection uses light signals to deliver reliable, high bandwidth internet directly to your home or business. To date, it’s the newest technology with the fastest speeds.

High-speed internet just got speedier.

High-speed internet is usually broadband. But is broadband internet always high-speed? Not necessarily. Recently, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that connections must deliver minimum download speeds of 25 Mbps (megabits per second) in order to officially be considered high-speed. That means DSL and cable providers need to crank up their bandwidth offerings if they want to continue marketing their web connections as “high-speed internet.”

Where do you get high-speed internet?

There are lots of places to get high-speed internet online—but don’t get too click happy. Each type of internet service has pros and cons, so it’s important to study up before making a purchase. Luckily, we’ve got just the thing: a comprehensive crash course on the different types of internet.

Now that you’re a high-speed internet expert, you know there’s no reason to wait on video buffering or slow page loads. All you need is a connection that can keep up.