The internet is a telecommunications network that uses telephone lines, cables, satellites and wireless connections to connect computers and other devices to the World Wide Web. All modern computers can connect to the internet, as can many mobile phones and some televisions, video game consoles and other devices.
The internet can be used to:
- access a huge ‘library’ of information from the millions of websites around the world that make up the World Wide Web
- send and receive email messages
- share photographs and video clips with your friends and family
- buy goods and services (and often save money!)
- carry out online banking
- use Skype to make free phone calls to other computer users
- play games with other people online
- catch up on TV and radio programmes that you’ve missed – or watch them again
- learn something new with an online course.
Wireless, or Wi-Fi, as the name suggests, does not use telephone lines or cables to connect to the internet. Instead, it uses radio frequency. Wireless is also an always on connection and it can be accessed from just about anywhere. Wireless networks are growing in coverage areas by the minute so when I mean access from just about anywhere, I really mean it. Speeds will vary, and the range is between 5 Mbps to 20 Mbps.
DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. It is an internet connection that is always “on”. This uses 2 lines so your phone is not tied up when your computer is connected. There is also no need to dial a phone number to connect. DSL uses a router to transport data and the range of connection speed, depending on the service offered, is between 128K to 8 Mbps.
Cellular technology provides wireless Internet access through cell phones. The speeds vary depending on the provider, but the most common are 3G and 4G speeds. A 3G is a term that describes a 3rd generation cellular network obtaining mobile speeds of around 2.0 Mbps. 4G is the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards. The goal of 4G is to achieve peak mobile speeds of 100 Mbps but the reality is about 21 Mbps currently.