Internet Connection Speed Comparison Chart

Carrier Technology Description Speed Physical Medium Comments
Dial-up Access On demand access using a modem and regular telephone line. 2400 bps to 56 Kbps Twisted pair (regular phone lines)
  • Available throughout most of province.
  • Cheap but slow compared with other technologies.
  • Speed may degrade due to the amount of line noise.
ISDN Dedicated telephone line and router required. 64 Kbps to 128 Kbps Twisted pair
  • Not available throughout province but becoming more widespread.
  • An ISDN line costs slightly more than a regular telephone line.
Cable Special cable modem and cable line required. 512 Kbps to 52 Kbps Coaxial cable; in some cases telephone lines used for upstream requests.
  • Must have existing cable access in area. 
  • Cost of bring service into an area and trenching cable can be prohibitive.
  • Networkable

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line

This new technology uses the unused digital portion of a regular copper telephone line to transmit and receive information. ADSL is asymmetric since it recieves at 6 to 8 Mbps per second but can only send data at 64 Kbps. 

A special modem and adapter card are required.

512 Kbps to 8 Mbps Twisted pair (used as a digital, broadband medium)
  • Doesn’t interfere with normal telephone use.
  • Bandwidth is dedicated not shared like with cable.
  • Bandwidth is affected by the distance from the network hubs. Must be within 5 km (3.1 miles) of telephone company switch.
  • Only available at a few urban regions at present.
  • Not networkable
Wireless (LMCS) Access is gained by connection to a high speed cellular like local multi-point communications system (LMCS) network via wireless transmitter/receiver. 2 Mbps or more Airwaves 

Requires outside antenna.

  • Still in the early test stages.
  • In theory its capable of super speeds of 10 mbps or more.
  • Can be used for high speed data, broadcast TV and wireless telephone service.
Satellite The computer sends request for information to an ISP via normal phone dial-up communications and data is returned via high speed satellite to rooftop dish, which relays it to the computer via a decoder box. 400 Kbps Airwaves 

Requires outside antenna.

  • Bandwidth is not shared.
  • Satellite companies are set to join the fray soon which could lead to integrated TV and Internet service using the same equipment and WebTV like integrated services
  • Service is one way with a slow uplink speed.
  • Requires an Internet service account.
  • Phone line is busy while online.
Frame Relay Provides a type of "party line" connection to the Internet. 

Requires a FRAD (Frame Relay Access Device) similar to a modem, or a DSU/CSU.

56 Kbps to 1.544 Mbps Various
  • May cost less than ISDN in some locations.
  • Limited availability across Ontario.
Fractional T1 

(Flexible DS1)

Only a portion of the 23 channels available in a T1 line is actually used. 64 Kbps to 1.544 Mbps Twisted-pair or coaxial cable
  • Cheaper than a full T1 line with growth options of 56 Kbps or 64 Kbps increments as required.
T1 Special lines and equipment (DSU/CSU and router) required. 1.544 Mbps Twisted-pair, coaxial cable, or optical fiber
  • Typically used for high bandwidth demands such as videoconferencing and heavy graphic file transfers. Many large businesses and ISP use T1.
  • Expensive
T3 Typically used for ISP to Internet infrastructure. 44.736 Mbps Optical fiber
  • Very large bandwidth
  • Extremely expensive and complex
OC-1 Typically used for ISP to Internet infrastructure within Internet infrastructure. 51.84 Mbps Optical fiber  
OC-3 Typically used for large company backbone or Internet backbone. 155.52 Mbps Optical fiber  
About Bandwidth

Bandwidth, or capacity, refers to the amount of data a given technology or infrastructure can transmit over time. It is usually expressed in kilobits per second (Kbps) or megabits per second (Mbps).

Since one kilobit is equal to about 1,000 bits, a 28.8 modem can transmit 28.8 kilobits - or 28,800 bits - per second. A one megabit modem can handle 1 million bits, or 1,000 kilobits, per second.


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