DSL Versus Cable
When looking for a high speed Internet service for your home most people are presented with two dominant options, DSL or Cable service. Price can be the driving factor for many when making a comparison between these two but what are the differences? Read on for our comparison summary.
- Access: DSL service is a dedicated connection, whereas Cable service is a shared connection (for example, part of your neighborhood can share a network segment). Therefore, there is no concern about reduced speeds (or bandwidth) as
neighbors or other users in your area sign up for service. With Cable, added users or just heavy usage by other users on your shared network segment at the same time can possibly reduce your overall available speeds. An example might be on a Saturday evening when many neighbors might be streaming a movie, all at the same time. The service provider can typically add further resources to counteract heavy usage or large number of users if this happens and typically this is not a huge problem.
- Speed: With DSL the speed can be reduced as the distance increases between you and the Central Office (CO). With Cable the speed is not really affected by distance and typically higher speeds (more bandwidth) are available with this technology. Many service providers now have tiered plan options, so you can get higher speeds by paying a higher monthly rate.
- Cost: Competition is high for residential users so thats a good thing and generally keeps the cost reasonable. Many providers offer reduced rates for the first 6 to 12 months which can blur the lines between which one is cheaper. Taking those initial discounts out of the equation, DSL service will cost you in the $20 to $35 range typically, whereas Cable service will cost you in the $40 to $65 range typically. One thing to note here though is that some DSL providers still require you to subscribe to their phone service also (although there are some providers who may provide a "naked" service option now which means getting the Internet service without having to subscribe to a phone line also). If this is the case for the option you are considering then this additional cost needs to be added to the comparison, especially if you are considering using VoIP for your phone service (see below for more information on VoIP phone service).
- Availability: Both service types have locations where they are not available. Also, certain providers will cover some areas of the USA but not all. If you are moving out of state then you may end up with a different service provider due to availability.
- Reliability: Both service technologies provide high reliability, especially when compared with dial-up services. Certainly from a residential or home perspective the reliability is considered good enough and the industry as a whole has improved tremendously over the last 10 years or so.
If you have used dial-up service in the past you know about slow connections and sudden disconnections happening in the middle of whatever you are doing. Very annoying! This is something that you will only rarely experience with broadband technologies. However, if you have a business that relies on an Internet connection then you may want to consider services like T1, Ethernet and T3. These business class services include uptime guarantees known as Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
- Consumer Target: Both services now provide a low cost option for businesses. This was not always the case in the past when DSL was the main option for lower cost service to businesses.
- VoIP Phone Service: Broadband service is the only requirement for VoIP, also known as broadband phone service, Internet phone service, or digital phone service. The explosive growth of broadband in the home has meant that VoIP has become a very good option for home users and businesses to save a bundle on their phone bills.
It can save the typical home phone user an average of $500 per year on their phone bill and can be used to replace your
traditional phone line or just as a secondary line so you can enjoy the abundance of features. For more information take a look at our VoIP section.
So, who wins the battle of DSL versus Cable? Well, the above are just a few things to consider when trying to decide which one is right for you. At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference, as both provide a reliable, cost effective, and fast Internet service. If you are looking for the lowest cost service and dont do much more than surfing websites and email then a DSL service will be your best option (no point paying a premium for high speeds when you dont really need it). If you are a data power user, online gamer, movie streamer, or just want the highest speeds available then Cable may just be the best option for you.
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