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This is a question that is asked everywhere you look. Which do I want ... DSL or Cable?

DSL service shares bandwidth amongst ALL users connected to the same DSLAM. Cable shares bandwidth amongst ALL users connected to the same CMTS.

DSL's advantage?
The dedicated circuit prevents other users from affecting your connection to any significant degree. (In most cases.)

Cable's advantage?
Generally cable can support higher bandwidth rates, and can usually provide service to a larger area than 18,000 wire-feet, DSL's limit.

Cable modems are typically faster for downloads than most if not all DSL lines, when the cable infrastructure is new or well maintained. One of the most common complaints seen in our cable forums is that of increased latency and other problems as more subscribers in a given area come on line. Additionally, cable has a few other disadvantages when compared to DSL.

The first disadvantage is that cable is an RF network -- this means that it is vulnerable to transient problems "within the network" from RF interference. Since cable is a shared media, there is a possibility that performance may degrade over time as additional households plug in, connect additional devices (videos, game machines etc.) to the TV lines.

A cable company may react slowly to decreases in performance if it reacts at all, as they never sell access by speed, or promise consistent speed or latency.

Another of the disadvantages of cable over DSL is the upstream (return path). Cable companies are using a very narrow band for return signalling, and this is positioned below all the space allocated for TV channels. This band is prone to RF interference and is very limited in capacity. Upstream transmissions may therefore compete with others in the area, get delayed (suffer high latency) due to noise fighting techniques, and cable TOS (Terms Of Service) typically prohibit any kind of constant upstream use. Internet use is shifting away from central servers broadcasting to many individuals and some interesting peer to peer applications are appearing (games, voice and video applications, communal libraries). These applications need a strong upstream channel.

As the years have passed, the bottom line has basically evolved to personal preference or availability. Both DSL and Cable have their idiosyncrasies and consumer complaints. The best advice really is to check the various forums on this site which are relevant to the options available to you, and make an informed choice based upon what you learn. Ask questions in the forum ... there are some very knowledgeable members willing to help.

Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
  • The real question you have to ask yourself is do you want dependable speed? Using Cable internet the Price is typically higher and so is the speed, but what they dont tell you is you share your speed with all your neighbors, If they are one the net your net is slower and vice versa. Im not talking small changes in speed its a different speed everytime you run a speed test.....and its NEVER the speed they sold you. On the other hand DSL is usually cheaper and VERY VERY STABLE speeds. You can run 10 speed tests with cable and get 10 radically different results...You can run 10 speed test with DSL and the results are extremely similar. So if it takes you 2 minutes today to download a video it will take 2 tomorrow or next week, with cable it could be 2 minutes or 10 you never know, you could probably download the video with cable in 1 minute if you did it at 3am on a tues morning, when very little people are on line.

    2010-12-31 17:46:50

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by KeysCapt See Profile
last modified: 2010-11-10 15:29:45

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