When it comes to choosing between cable and DSL internet services, people often times have a lot of issues choosing which one is best. It is important to find out all of the facts about the two types before making a definite decision. In principle, cable and DSL both provide Internet service, but they differ greatly when it comes to their technical aspects. According to research and individual needs, people will often find that both cable and DSL internet services have pros and cons based on the scenario. Wirefly will help you compare DSL and cable Internet. Enter your ZIP code in our comparison tool to compare cable and DSL Internet plans.
As far as most people are concerned, there isn’t really a cut-and-dry answer as to which service is actually better. There are several factors that an individual has to consider in order to make the right choice for their particular situation. The three main factors that an individual should consider when weighing these pros and cons are:
Availability in a given area
Offered services by providers in an area
One can compare choosing between cable and DSL to choosing between two different types of cars. Everyone has different features that they are in search of. Some people like fast cars for highway driving, while others look towards trucks in order to have a wider range of capabilities when heading off-road. At this point, the service that a person chooses has more to do with preference and expectation than actual capability. Luckily, people who know what they want from their internet connection, the choices are made a lot easier. An educated consumer can easily pick the right type of internet service that will best satisfy their needs.
What's The Difference Between Cable and DSL?
The first thing that a consumer needs to understand before choosing between cable and DSL is what they actually are. When it comes to cable Internet services, the service is actually transmitted through the existing cable television lines that are in the area. Generally, this type of internet is digitally broadcasted through the standard coaxial cables used for cable television.
However, DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line, is connected to computers, and it is transmitted through phone lines. Even though DSL is one of the oldest forms of internet services available, it is also considered to be extremely stable, compared to other types of internet services. When using DSL, a consumer will have to “dial in” using a DSL modem, but most DSL Internet service providers usually include these models with their service packages.
Similarities Between DSL and Cable Internet Service
Although DSL and cable services function differently, for the most part, they do share a common ground that can make choosing between the two a bit difficult. For instance, cable and DSL services are usually billed on a monthly basis, and most providers bill these services on the same invoice as the consumer’s phone or cable TV services.
Both of these services are also considered to be broadband connections, unlike dial-up internet. What does this mean? Basically, with dial-up, the connection is not always connected. However, with cable and DSL, the services are always on. This means that with these services, data is always being transmitted 24 hours a day. Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) redefined what broadband means, and this made ISPs actually increase the speeds of their services in order to be relevant. Due to these changes in guidelines, there are some DSL and cable services that are no longer considered to be broadband.
DSL and cable internet services are able to be offered as a high-speed connection. However, a lot of ISPs use their power to actually cap or throttle the speed of this service. Although the FCC have regulated most of these practices, there are still a few ISPs that consumers have reported that still engage in this practice. Last but not least, both of these services are known for being flexible when it comes to different types of setups. Regardless if a user prefers a Mac or PC setup, they can still use either DSL or cable internet services.
Differences Between Cable and DSL
Consumers should not let the similarities of DSL and Cable internet services confuse the fact that they still have a number of differences that matter when choosing between the two. The biggest difference between these two services, as stated earlier, is the type of connection that each of them uses. For instance, DSL internet services are connected through phone lines to their ISPs, while cable internet services connect through coaxial cables.
Speed is actually the biggest difference between these two services. ISPs are able to provide a wide range of speed variations for both services, but generally, cable has access to faster speeds. When it comes to latency times, DSL generally has a higher latency than cable. Despite which type of service consumers choose, the speeds provided are not absolute. Cable is generally more susceptible to losing speeds, and this is because of network traffic, especially during peak hours. Whereas, DSL services generally are more consistent because it has its own designated line that is connected to a central service hub. Despite this, cable ISPs generally has a better reputation than DSL ISPs for providing advertised speeds.
There have been a lot of different surveys conducted on ISPs and their internet services, and according to most surveys, cable providers have generally surpassed their DSL counterparts. However, there are still plenty of consumers that still choose DSL over cable internet. Despite the similarities and differences between these two services, there are still plenty of advantages and disadvantages that come with choosing one or the other.
Pros and Cons of Cable Internet
Consistency – With cable internet, data transfers and information caching are generally faster than with DSL internet service, and this is despite the fact that cable internet is susceptible to network traffic.
Distance – Unlike with DSL internet services, cable internet speed and reliability stay the same regardless of the proximity to the provider.
Speed – Cable generally offers a larger range of speeds than DSL connections, and it has lower latencies. Generally, cable internet services are excellent for business connections due to the variety of bandwidths that it provides.
Traffic – Because cable internet runs through cable lines, consumers can experience slower speeds during peak times in more congested areas.
Cost – Due to cable interent’s higher speed options, in most places, it can be potentially more costly than DSL internet services, but this is not true for everywhere.
Availability – In more remote locations, cable internet is less likely to be available for consumers to purchase.
Pros and Cons of DSL Internet
Accessibility – Due to the fact that DSL runs through phone lines, the likelihood that it is accessible in a consumer’s area is higher.
Customization – There is a large list of providers that provide DSL services, which gives a larger range of speed and price options. Plus, the plans for DSL are generally more customizable than cable plans.
Support – Most ISPs that offer DSL services have excellent customer support services that are available at all hours.
Flexibility – DSL is great for consumers to do a lot of Internet streaming services like TV subscriptions, Netflix, and Hulu.
Vulnerability – Unlike cable internet, DSL is actually reliant on phone lines to function, and therefore, if a phone line is damaged inside a residence or outside, consumers can expect a loss in internet connectivity.
Uploading – On big files, DSL can actually lag a lot on upload times because of the fact that it is designed to receive information faster than it can send information.
Proximity – Unlike cable internet, DSL does depend on the distance a consumer is from the DSL hub. The further away from the hub a consumer is, the slower the service will be. Therefore, even though it may be available in more places, the speeds could be extremely slow compared to other services.
Beyond the Internet
In order to be connected to the world, it can take more than just internet options. A lot of providers like to bundle their services with the internet, and therefore, this is often times a huge factor in choosing an ISP.
Depending on the provider, cable and DSL services can be bundled together with other services like television and phone services. Logically, DSL connections are generally bundled with phone services, and cable connections are bundled with premium television choices. The largest convenience in bundling services has to deal with price and billing convenience. Often times, services are provided cheaper if bundled with other services than if they were being used individually. Plus, consumers only have to worry about one bill as opposed to various bills for different services, making it more convenient for billing and installation practices.
How to Decide Between Cable and DSL Services
When it comes to choosing between cable and DSL service, there actually isn’t one right answer. Everything comes down to personal preference, but there are a few things consumers should consider before making their final decision.
The first thing that a consumer has to figure out is if the option to choose is even available. Due to geography, both services are not always available for consumers to choose. Therefore, the choice might be made for them.
The second thing that consumers have to consider is what they actually want out of their internet package. The things that they need to consider at this point are what they want to use the service for. If they are doing basic things like email, social media, and small streaming services, then DSL would work extremely well. If a consumer plans on needing faster upload and response times, then consumers would be better off choosing cable internet. Plus, this is where one should consider the bundling options provided by the different providers and what other services they actually need.
The last thing that consumers should always look for is a trustworthy service provider. Sometimes, providers will add new services like DSL and cable, and generally, consumers who have been with those providers feel more comfortable bundling their services with them. However, if a consumer does not already have a provider, reviewing customer surveys is the best way to see how a provider stands up to their competition. The different elements that consumers should consider when doing their research are speed, availability, and price.
Wirefly Is America's Most Trusted Source For All Cell Phones, Plans, TV, and Internet Deals
Wirefly offers great deals on a large selection of smartphones, cell phones, tablets, mobile hotspots, and other wireless devices for the nation's most popular carriers. Use Wirefly’s innovative cell phone and plan comparison tools to ensure you are getting the best deal on the market. Shop with confidence knowing that Wirefly wants to help you find the best prices on cell phones, cell phone plans, TV, and Internet service.