How Does High Speed Internet Work?

When answering the question, “How does high speed Internet work?”, we need to individually examine the three most common types of high speed Internet services: DSL, cable and satellite. While each service allows data transmission at a faster rate than dial-up, they all work in slightly different ways.

In general, high speed Internet (also known as “broadband”) quickly transmits video, voice and data over long distances. Users can connect to the Internet immediately, and they can also use their telephone line while surfing the Net.

Some customers may not have access to all types of high speed connections. But between DSL Internet, cable Internet and satellite Internet connections, there’s a service available for almost everybody.

DSL – Digital Subscriber Line


When dealing with the question of “How does high speed Internet work?”, we should first examine the workings of the DSL connection (also known as a Digital Subscriber Line). This is currently the most popular type of high speed Internet connection.

The DSL connection uses two copper wires, just like your telephone. The lines are split into two frequencies: one for data and one for voice. This splitting is what allows you to use your computer and phone line at the same time.

A DSL connection has download speeds ranging from 256 kilobits per second to 7 megabits per second. Upload speeds can vary from 16 megabits per second to only one per second. Since more bandwidth is reserved for receiving data than sending it, the DSL Internet connection is said to be “asymmetric.”

Benefits of a DSL connection include:

  • Use your computer and phone at the same time.
  • In many cases, the existing phone line can be used to run your connection. This eliminates further installation charges.
  • The closer you are to the central DSL office, the faster your connection speed should be.

Disadvantages of a DSL connection include:

  • If you don’t live close to the central DSL office, your connection speed won’t be as fast as someone who does (although the difference may be slight).
  • Uploading information takes longer than downloading.

Cable High Speed Internet

Still wondering, “How does high speed Internet work?” Well, let’s examine cable Internet service and how it functions.

With cable Internet service, the customer has two cable lines installed. The first line allows the subscriber to watch television. The second line provides high-speed cable Internet access.

Cable Internet typically allows for a faster connection speed than DSL. This can vary from computer to computer, however.

Satellite Broadband Internet

In order to receive the Internet via satellite, an antenna must be installed at your business or residence. The signal is then sent to an orbiting satellite and bounced down to the customer. The satellite antenna catches the signal and sends it to your computer.

The speed of a satellite Internet connection is incredibly fast, but severe weather can sometimes interfere with the signal from space and reduce performance. The biggest advantage is that satellite service is available to customers in rural areas, a group which often cannot receive DSL or cable Internet.