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Internet Lesson 3

Connecting to the Internet

The Need for Speed

If you've ever surfed the Web, you've probably had to wait for web pages to load. Media such as videos, music, and even images can take a long time to load, so faster Internet connections provide a less frustrating online experience.

The speed of your Internet connection is determined by the bandwidth, which is the amount of data that can move through the connection over a given period of time. High-bandwidth connections are called broadband.

On the other hand, Dial-up connections have a relatively low bandwidth.

Higher bandwidth means:

  • Faster web pages
  • Faster email services

So you're interested in getting an Internet connection in your home, or maybe you'd just like to upgrade to a faster service. There are a lot of factors to consider, such as how much speed you need and where you live.

In this lesson, we'll talk about bandwidth, different types of Internet service, wireless Internet (Wi-Fi), home
networking, and mobile phone Internet access.


Bandwidth is measured in bits per second (bps). For example, a 3 Mbps (3 megabits per second) connection is capable of moving 3 million bits of data every second, which is more than fast enough to watch a streaming movie.


When the Internet is Slow
You may have noticed that your Internet connection is slower at certain times. That's because the data has to go a long way before getting to your computer, so there are a lot of places where it can slow down. If more people are using the Internet at the same time, it's more likely that there will be "traffic jams" along the way.

Choosing an Internet Service

Which Service is Best for You?

It all depends on where you live and how much speed you need. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) usually offer different levels of speed based on your needs. If you're mainly using the Internet for e-mail and social networking, a slower connection might be all you need, but if you want to download a lot of music or watch streaming movies, you'll want a faster connection. You'll need to do some research to find out what the options are in your area.

Types of Internet Service

The following interactive compares a few of the more well-known types of Internet service.



Wireless Internet

No matter what type of Internet service you have, it's possible to connect wirelessly (known as Wi-Fi), as long as you have the right equipment. Many computers have built-in wireless cards, but if you have a computer that does not, you can purchase them separately. You'll also need some type of wireless access point (for example, a wireless router) that will connect to your modem.
A Wireless Router

Whenever you're using any kind of wireless Internet, you'll need to take extra security measures to protect your private data. Wireless security standards such as Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) encrypt the data before it's sent. When you set up your Wi-Fi, you'll want to set up your wireless security. You will create a username and
password that you can use to securely connect to the Internet.

Some cities provide free, citywide Wi-Fi, which means you may not need to purchase Internet access or a wireless access point.

Home Networking

If you have more than one computer in your household, you might want to connect all of them to the Internet. The easiest way to do this is by creating a home network. In a home network, a router (which could be a wireless router) connects all of the computers to your modem, and it also connects them to each other. That means you can move files from one computer to another or even play multiplayer games with your family. Your home network can connect many devices besides computers. Many phones, printers, mp3 players, video game consoles, and Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) are equipped with wireless cards and often require very little setup to connect them to your home network.

Using computers on a home network

Internet on Your Mobile Phone
With many mobile phones, it's possible to have full Internet access, allowing you to check your e-mail and browse the Web away from home. To do this, you'll need a data plan, which adds an additional monthly fee to your mobile phone bill. You'll want to do some research to find the best plan for you.

It's also important to choose a provider that has good service in your area. If your phone can't get reception, you won't be able to connect to the Internet.

Data plans are also available for laptops, e-Readers such as the Kindle, and tablet computers such as the iPad.

Mobile data plans are often referred to as 3G, which means it's the third generation of wireless standards. Some companies have recently begun to provide 4G (fourth generation) data services, which allow you to have broadband speeds on your mobile device.

The Future of Internet Connections

Today, there are many options for connecting to the Internet, and new options will continue to become available as different technologies are developed. So it's important to do some research to find the best option
for you.

There will always be a demand for greater speed and greater convenience, so you can expect faster and more convenient Internet services in the near future. For example, many locations are gaining access to new 4G technologies such as WiMAX, which allows a computer to connect to the Internet wirelessly from anywhere within the ISP's network, much like a mobile phone's data plan. So you'll be able to enjoy wireless Internet when you're on the go—not just when you're at home.