DSL versus Cable Internet Service, which is better?

We’ve been asked this question a number of times. Our answer usually is cable Internet; however, it’s important to have a general understanding of the differences between the two to help make a decision for yourself which is better for you.

DSL vs. Cable Internet

Shared Bandwidth.

Bandwidth affects Internet Service. Bandwidth can be explained this way, usually when you are the only driver on the highway you can drive as fast as the speed limit permits (excluding things such as, weather conditions etc.) however, when the traffic on the highway increases, at some point the average speeds slow because there are so many drivers on the road. DSL is like you practically own the road, generally with DSL your Internet speed is consistent. However, the person who has cable Internet will often times be passing you in the fast lane. Cable Internet is typically faster than DSL. The downside with Cable Internet is that, unlike DSL where you own the road, cable Internet is shared bandwidth with your neighbors, the more people on the Internet at a given time the slower the Internet Speed.

In terms of reliability we’ve found both types of Internet service are nearly equally reliable. Both DSL service and Cable Internet can go out at any time and for any reason.

User friendliness

The most common setup in any home or small business consists of the modem, also known as the gateway to your Internet service, along with a routing device which can be either a Wi-Fi router or hardwire Ethernet router.

Generally, cable Internet service is easier to work with regarding the modem router setup. In many regards it’s because with DSL your have to input your PPOe user and password information and bridge the modem to the router in the setup. Newer DSL installations and setups include a single device combination modem / Wi-Fi router; while this makes it easier to setup, in some instances it can be more costly to the end user because such equipment allows the Internet Service provider the opportunity to charge you a rental fee for the equipment.  However, it can also make it more difficult to expand your network to support Internet connected devices.

With Cable Internet you can often simply connect the cable modem to the router without any special programming adjustments. And, expansion of your network can be just as easy because you don’t have to bridge devices.

Summary

Interestingly, earlier we made the analogy about highway traffic. I’m on an Interstate while I write this article (yes, as a passenger) While the posted speed limit is 70 there is a lot of traffic on the road, cars driving in the fast lane are driving slower than the posted speed limit. Traffic is slower just as it would be with Cable Internet, however with DSL my speed would be fairly consistent. We still prefer Cable Internet, we find that overall its faster.