As broadband Internet becomes more mainstream, one of the most common questions we get is: which is better, cable or dsl?
The answer to that question is not so definite. Many factors come into play when deciding which high-speed connection to choose. Regardless of which you choose (DSL, Cable, or even Satellite) it's going to be a ton better (and faster) than that ancient dialup modem you've been using. Not to mention, your Internet experience will be much more enjoyable.
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)
Just like your existing dialup modem, DSL uses your existing copper wire phone line to deliver data at high speed. To qualify for DSL, you need the following:
- a phone line
- a DSL modem (which normally comes with the service)
- an Ethernet card or an available USB port ( most DSL modems allow both connections, but Ethernet is recommended).
- a phone company (ISP) that is offering DSL service (e.g., Verizon)
One important factor that will influence your DSL connection is the distance between your home or office and the phone company's central office. The farther away you are from the central office, the signal becomes weaker, thus a slower connection. With that said, DSL is not as available widespread compared to cable. You'll need to contact your local phone provider to check availability.
Speed wise, depending on the package you choose, DSL can range from 128 kbps to 3 Mbps. Generally, the faster your connection the more expensive your service will be. You can expect to pay around $25-$30 a month for a 768 kbps connection, which is roughly 13 times faster than a 56k dialup modem.
- Relatively cheaper than cable
- Dedicated line, so speeds are almost guaranteed
- You can talk on the phone at the same time while surfing the net
- Slower speeds compared to cable
- Speeds drop the farther away your home/office is from the central office
- Not available in all areas
Cable Internet gets our recommendation. Cable, which you can probably already tell, uses the coaxial cable that your television uses. To qualify for cable internet, you need the following:
- a cable modem ( which normally comes with the service)
- an Ethernet card or an available USB port (most cable modems allow both connections, but Ethernet is recommended)
- a cable company offering cable Internet (e.g., Adelphia)
Unlike DSL, cable Internet does not depend on the distance between your home or office and the central office. However, unlike DSL, cable connections are typically shared among your neighbors. Although, most cable companies provide pipelines with huge bandwidth that this rarely becomes an issue.
Speed wise, cable Internet typically ranges from 3 Mbps to 10 Mbps, up to 3-4 times faster than DSL. However, expect to pay more for the service - $40-$50 per month.
- Faster speeds than DSL
- More widespread than DSL
- Distance does not affect speed
- More expensive than DSL
- Line is shared with other users
With all that said, you need to think about what type of user you are. If you are a heavy Internet user and downloader, you would highly benefit from a broadband connection. For the light users who use the Internet just to check emails, are probably better off with a dialup. However, if you are willing to splurge some cash on a broadband connection, then by all means, upgrade!
About the Author
Mark Pascua is the webmaster of PersonalConfuser.net, a computer how-to and tips website.