Saturday, May 8, 2010

Compare Cable vs. DSL

Okay, so you are finally tired of those slow dial-up internet connections, and you want to go broadband. Good deal. But first, you may be wondering which type of broadband connection is best- DSL or Cable? Or, at least, which of the two gives you more speed for the price? Here we take a look at these two popular broadband connections and try to determine which one is better: DSL vs. Cable.

Cable Speed vs. DSL

The most common question that comes up is which type of connection is faster, DSL or Cable? To answer this, it is important to compare both upload and download speeds. Now, so you have something to compare these speeds to, your average dial-up connection is about 28 - 56 Kbps. Most often, however, you won't be able to get 56k through dial up, as most services can not handle this speed.

The average speed of a DSL download is 1.0 - 1.5Mbps. That's megabytes per second - about 20 times as fast as the fastest dial-up connection. This is fast, but consider Cable, which can give you up to 2 - 3Mbps. Thus, at least for downloading, cable can give you almost twice the speed of DSL - that's impressive. On the upload side, however, cable and DSL are pretty evenly matched. They both provide about 100Kbps - 400Kbps. It seems that cable has won this battle.

What about Price and Quality of Service?

There is more to discuss here besides the speed of the connections. Take price for one. Cable and DSL connections are both going to be more expensive than dial-up. But, DSL seems to be the cheaper of the two at the moment. You can get a good DSL internet connection for about $35 - $45 per month. Cable modem will cost you about $45 or $50 (this price may be included in a cable TV package). These prices, however, are really close and they change almost from month to month.

DSL is nice because you can talk on the phone and be online at the same time. In addition, business-level DSL service provides guaranteed data rates, so your connection speed is never a surprise. On the other hand, DSL speed tends to decrease the further you are away from the data center, and it is typically not as widely available as Cable. Cable speeds are not dependent on distance from the data center, and is occasionally cheaper than DSL when included in a cable TV rate. A cable modem, however, may require costly professional installation, and there may exists some limitations on downloads and uploads. All of these factors should be taken into consideration when choosing either broadband service.

Bradley James is a senior editor at, a website containing many helpful consumer electronics review articles. For more information on DSL and Cable technology, please visit our DSL vs Cable webpage.

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