DSL vs Cable Internet

DSL and cable modems are the two most popular internet technologies used by home users. If you are looking for your next ISP or if you are looking to change your internet plans or internet providers, then you’ve probably heard about DSL and Cable internet connections. What are the differences between the two? In this article, we are going to see the main differences between the two as well as their main advantage and disadvantages.

What is DSL Internet?

First, we are going to understand what they mean, first with DSL, which stands for Digital Subscriber Line. It uses your phone line to access the internet – but don’t confuse it with dial-up. Unlike the latter, DSL doesn’t disconnect when you’re using a phone and it’s much faster. DSL internet is most often offered by telephone companies at a discounted bundle price which includes a landline. Therefore, if you need a landline and an internet connection, this may be an excellent choice.

What is Cable Internet?

Cable internet, on the other hand, transmits data using existing cable TV lines. Like DSL your Cable ISP will also provide you with a modem. Cable internet connection works by using a TV channel for data transmission. One channel is used for data downstream and another is used for data upstream. Like DSL, Cable internet is mostly offered by cable TV operators at a discounted bundle price which includes both internet and cable TV plans. If you want maximum entertainment, it might be the best choice.

Face-Off: Cable vs DSL

Cable internet is superior compared to DSL in terms of speed. While DSL can reach speeds of up to 100 Mbps, Cable can reach up to 300 Mbps, three times faster than DSL. However, in a real-world scenario, the speed advantage of cable internet is diminished, thanks to its “shared” nature. In most cases, the more people in your area are subscribed to the same Cable internet ISP, the slower your connection will be, especially during peak hours. DSL, on the other hand, isn’t heavily affected by the number of simultaneous users in your area, but expect to pay slightly higher monthly fees.

DSL Pros:

  • Provides faster speeds than dial-up
  • Doesn’t disconnect when someone is using your telephone
  • You get to have discounted landline fees (if purchased in a bundle but varies per provider)
  • More reliable than cable internet

DSL Cons:

  • The farther you are from the main office, the slower and more unreliable your connection will be
  • Slower upload speeds
  • Availability on remote areas may vary and is often unadvisable

Cable Pros:

  • Faster than DSL at times
  • Performance doesn’t suffer from the consumer’s distance from the main office
  • Faster upload speeds

Cable Cons:

  • Shared bandwidth with others in your neighborhood
  • Slowed down during peak hours
  • Might be unavailable in some areas

Bottom Line

In reality, both Cable and DSL internet offers the same level of security and reliability. Modern advancements in technology have made the difference between the two almost obsolete (aside from the obvious fact of how they connect to the internet). But as a general rule of thumb, choose DSL if you are close to one of your prospect ISP’s service office as it will offer more stable download speeds. On the other hand, choose cable if you have few neighbors using the service in your area as it will provide faster upload and download speeds in general (and if the closest service office of a DSL provider is more than 2.5 km away.

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