Cable and the internet have long been intertwined, and these days, cable internet is by far the most common type of internet service technology. It’s widely available, reasonably fast, and often comes bundled with cable TV and phone service. However, it’s not the right solution for everyone.
For one thing, cable (while widespread) isn’t available in all areas. Even when it’s available, it might not be the right choice for your needs. So can you get Wi-Fi without cable, and what are your alternatives? Let’s talk about several ways to get internet without cable and explore the variety of available choices.
Alternatives to Cable Internet
Fiber internet is the best-case scenario of internet connections. It’s a fast, high-bandwidth internet technology that’s ideal for remote work, gaming, and all kinds of other applications. Fiber is both faster and more reliable than cable, since it’s immune to electrical interference and doesn’t suffer the same peak-hour slowdowns that cable does.
The biggest downside of fiber is that it’s not as widely available as cable. Although fiber infrastructure capacity is increasing steadily, many people still don’t have access. However, if you have access to fiber in your area, upgrading is almost always worth it — the speed and reliability are often game-changers for your digital lifestyle.
Digital subscriber line (DSL) internet is an internet service technology that connects to the internet via a dedicated phone line. DSL is the original broadband technology, and while it’s not as fast as cable or fiber internet, it’s reliable, affordable, and available almost everywhere.
Another advantage of DSL is that you don’t share infrastructure with your neighbors. As mentioned previously, cable internet can slow down during peak usage hours because you’re sharing the same wide-area network as everyone near you. DSL gives you your own household internet service line, providing consistent internet speeds at all hours of the day.
If your community doesn’t have access to other types of internet service, satellite internet can still get you connected. This is exactly what it sounds like: wireless internet service through a satellite relay installed outside your home, which communicates with a satellite orbiting the Earth. The satellite relay sends signals to your modem, creating a connection that mostly works just like normal broadband internet.
The main advantage of satellite internet is that it can reach where other ISPs don’t have infrastructure. Satellite service often has higher latency than other broadband technologies, since the signal has to travel a longer distance, and it can be affected by weather conditions when clouds block signal transmission. However, satellite does offer broadband in areas where it’s otherwise unavailable, making it the best option for some people.
Fixed Wireless Broadband
Fixed wireless broadband is another internet service solution for remote areas. With fixed wireless, a cellular base station tower sends 4G LTE signals wirelessly to a receiver device installed in your home. Fixed wireless is available from many different providers, including several traditional ISPs.
Installing fixed wireless is fast and easy, and many customers find the service more reliable than satellite internet. Fixed wireless is less affected by weather conditions, and its latency is much lower thanks to its shorter signal path. However, fixed wireless relies on a line of sight between the antenna and the receiver, so it’s still not available in all areas. Contact local fixed wireless providers to find out if it’s available at your address.
5G Home Internet
You’ve probably heard of 5G, the fifth-generation cellular technology that boasts ultra-fast mobile data service — but did you know it can provide home internet, too? Several ISPs now offer 5G-based wireless internet, which connects a wireless receiver in your home with a 5G cellular tower. This is a new evolution of fixed wireless technology, using the faster 5G signal rather than 4G LTE.
5G does come with some inherent limitations. First, many areas outside cities still don’t have 5G service, which requires a dense network of transmitters. 5G service can also be less reliable because it’s prone to interference from buildings, trees, and many other obstacles that get in the way of its transmissions. If you’re not sure about your home’s levels of 5G service, you can test its availability by turning off your current Wi-Fi and running an internet speed test. (Be sure to verify that your phone is using 5G — it will appear at the top next to your bars.)
Finally, nearly all smartphones and tablets allow users to set up their own temporary Wi-Fi networks. Using your phone’s mobile hotspot options, you can turn your 4G or 5G service into a Wi-Fi signal broadcast from your device. Connect your PC or other device to the network, and you’re good to go.
Mobile hotspots aren’t a permanent solution for most people, since their performance usually isn’t comparable to a dedicated Wi-Fi network. You’ll also need 4G or 5G service to use it, so hotspots are of limited use in areas without good cellular service. However, as a temporary or emergency measure, hotspots may provide exactly what you’re looking for.
Getting Internet Without Cable TV
Maybe you have access to cable internet, but you don’t want cable TV as part of the package. Many ISPs heavily encourage their customers to subscribe to bundle packages that include cable TV and landline phone service, so it can feel like you’re being pushed into paying for services you don’t necessarily want.
Fortunately, almost all ISPs now offer internet-only packages. If you don’t see an internet-only option on your ISP’s website, try contacting them by phone or chat to ask if internet-only plans are available. With many households choosing to forego cable TV services, some ISPs even offer packages that include streaming services and other non-cable entertainment choices.
The best internet package is the one that suits your family’s needs — and more options than ever are available today, even if cable isn’t right for you. Spend some time comparing the available options, and you’ll find one that gives you the best balance of price, bandwidth, and convenience.