Today that comes in three basic flavors, DSL, cable modem and satellite.
DSL speeds can vary a lot depending on the quality of the connection, how close you are to the switching office, and whether the DSL provider caps the speed, but typically downloads might be at 3000 kbps (kilobits per second), which is about 60x as fast as a good dialup. Upload speeds are slower, but average around 750 kbps, which is about 20x faster than a 56K dialup (which is only 33K for uploads).
DSL is a dedicated service, meaning you are the only one using the link. The upload and download speeds should remain fairly constant, day and night, and not be affected by what your neighbors are doing - which isn't the case for cable modems.
Rates for DSL service start around $30/month - but watch out for "extras", usually there's some fine print to the effect that "Pricing shown does not include any applicable sales tax, federal, state, or locally mandated surcharges, fees, userís fees, taxes or universal service fees". These don't usually amount to much though. A couple of dollars at most.
Cable modem internet access typically runs faster than DSL (though that's not always the case and can depend on the cable system loading), and the price tends to be maybe $10-$15 higher these days, depending on the speed.
Not all cable systems offer internet access (be warned, some have high speed DOWNLOAD, but require you to use a 56K dialup line for upload!!), and not everyone has local cable access. So if you can't get DSL or cable modem and you feel the need for speed, what can you do? That's where satellite comes in.
Typical download speeds are around 600 kbps (12x faster than 56K dialup) and typical upload speeds are around 100 kbps (about 3x faster than dialup).
Clearly satellite high speed internet access is the choice of last resort!
Here's a table that summarizes the options for internet access. The number are approximate of course.
|Typical Cost||Typical Download||Typical Upload|
|Cable Modem||$40-$45/m||up to 5000kpps||2000kbps|
|Satellite||$60/m + $600||600kbps||100kpbs|