Faster Web Connections

FIBER-OPTIC LINESInstalling fiber links directly to homes is usually the most expensive way to deliver broadband Internet service. But the technology delivers the speediest service, making high-definition video and other features possible. Look for fiber to be used in urban and suburban markets but fewer rural areas.

WI-FIThe same technology used to connect to the Internet wirelessly from your sofa—or at your local café—can deliver broadband to homes and businesses. Wi-Fi is already popular in rural areas and will likely attract a good chunk of the government's broadband spending.

WIMAXLike a really large Wi-Fi hotspot, a WiMAX tower can provide broadband wireless coverage to consumers located miles away. Although WiMAX speeds usually can't match those for Wi-Fi, the technology looks like the best choice for reaching remote areas.

DIGITAL SUBSCRIBER LINE (DSL)Since this technology operates on copper telephone wires, it's favored by telecom companies. DSL speeds can't match fiber, though, and the technology has distance limitations that make it challenging for rural areas. Its popularity is fading.

HYBRID FIBER-COAXIALTypically used for broadband over cable TV networks, the coaxial cable running from the home connects to high-speed fiber links. It's popular for high-speed Internet in urban and suburban residential areas.

BROADBAND OVER POWER LINESUtilities can deliver broadband service over the electric lines running into homes. It's simple, since users plug modems into electrical outlets. But it's expensive. Despite enthusiastic support from advocates, it's unlikely to get widespread traction.

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