High-Speed Internet: What's Best for You?

To find the perfect connection, think about your online behavior and read on for the right match.

  • Sharon Tanenbaum and Ashley Tate

DSL

Best for those who: Check e-mail sometimes and browse websites. If the basic speed of 768 kilobits per second (kbps) is too slow, faster speeds, like 3 megabits per second (Mbps), are available.
Cost and speed: Around $20 a month for 768 kbps. Downloads a one-megabyte photo in about 10 seconds.
Keep in mind: DSL (digital subscriber line) works through copper phone lines, so if your phone is out of service, your Internet connection might be, too.

Cable

Best for those who: Regularly read and send e-mails; enjoy downloading music and watching videos online.
Cost and speed: Around $40 a month for 6 Mbps. Downloads a one-megabyte photo in about 1.5 seconds.
Keep in mind: You and your neighbors share the cables that deliver the connection, so you may hit a few speed bumps during peak usage hours (like after dinner).

Fiber Optics

Best for those who: Share a lot of photos and videos online and download or upload movies and other large files from the Web.
Cost and speed: About $53 a month for a 15-Mbps con-nection. Downloads three one-megabyte photos in about 1.6 seconds.
Keep in mind: Fiber optics (super-speedy networks of glass wires) are not available everywhere.