DSL vs. Cable Internet: Which to Choose with Few Options?

We are in an age of the internet where almost everyone has it and are debating on whether it should be a human right or not. But the number of cable solutions are few and far between.

There is fiber, normal cable, DSL, and soon to be satellite-based internet.

In many parts of the country, the only two options are still cable-based internet and DSL. So how do you know which to pick?

Here is our guide to DSL vs. cable internet.

Pros of DSL

A digital subscriber line, commonly referred to as DSL, is the most common type of internet in the world. It is a broadband connection that delivers internet to over half of the world’s population.

It transmits data throughout a telephone cable. It was the step-up after dial-up was introduced. It brought speeds up from a few kilobytes per second, to upwards of 25 megabytes a second.

DSL, because of its relatively low by modern-day speeds, is usually pretty cheap. A low-end DSL package can cost around minimally $20 to as high as $299. It all depends on the offering that is being delivered by the company.

Because it comes on its own dedicated phone line, you can typically experience fewer interruptions than what is possible with cable. This makes downloads and streaming a much smoother process for your individual household.

Because of its constantly reliable connection, this makes it appealing to a lot of business owners who constantly need an “always on” connection. There is no worry about low performance during peak internet usage hours, unlike cable.

Cons of DSL

Because of the older nature of DSL and its limit on bringing higher speeds, DSL is considered a not so great option, just a cheap one. It comes with a long list of cons compared to every other option besides dial-up.

The first would be distance. Because it operates on a phone line, the further you are away from your internet service provider (ISP), the worse the connection is going to be. This can make it a problem for rural areas.

Another big issue is internet speeds. When you compare the DSL internet speed vs cable, DSL loses in both download speeds and upload speeds. DSL can only provide high download speeds, upwards of 400 megabytes per second, but is extremely behind in upload speeds, offering only around 8 megabytes.

This means if you are a content creator that relies on uploading multiple times a week, you may have to give it a few hours to a whole day before it fully rendered and uploaded.

DSL comes into two different variations as well, that most ISPs will not confine to you before signing up. There is symmetric, which has equal download to upload speeds. Then there is asymmetric, which offers greatly improved download speeds at the cost of upload speeds.

Pros of Cable

Cable was considered the step up from DSL when it was annouced because it was introduced with higher download and upload speeds. It works by hooking up to a coaxial cable and transmits data over a cable television network rather than a phone line.

These tight-knit wires are able to produce much higher data transmission speeds, upwards of a gigabyte for download, and upwards of 100 megabytes for uploading. This makes it a clear winner when it comes to overall speed tests when choosing between DSL internet vs cable internet.

The price to performance is typically at a better price as well. Because you are sharing bandwith with other consumers, this brings down costs and you can typically find higher internet speeds for relatively the same cost as lower speeds from DSL.

It also does not matter how far away you are from your ISP. You are going to get the same experience whether you are a mile away or 50 miles away.

Because of its newer technology, yet still mature foundation, cable internet also usually has a higher amount of offerings. It can sometimes be hard to find DSL as it is being phased out of most companies.

Coaxial cables are also much heftier compared to their DSL counterpart. The wires are typically much thicker because of their tightly woven nature. This means you don’t have to worry about accidentally tearing them when moving furniture around or pets getting ahold of them.

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Cons of Cable

That does not mean there are no cons when it comes to cable internet. The most major of these problems comes from sharing the bandwidth in your area.

During peak internet usage, you can find that because the network does not have enough bandwidth to give to everyone on its internet, there is something called throttling. This is where ISPs will throttle down internet speeds to ensure that everyone is getting access to it.

Because more companies are switching to cable only, we are running into the problem of throttling more often. When this occurs, cable companies will need to raise prices to expand the speeds and bandwidth available. This is why there has been a steady increase in cable prices in the last decade.

Because cable runs on the same network as television, this means that if your internet is acting slow or having problems, so to will your television experience. You can see an increase in frame skipping and connection lost during peak hours.

DSL vs. Cable Internet: Key Takeaways

In the debate of DSL vs. cable internet, there is no true winner at the end of the day. Each has its pros and cons and is better suited for everyone differently.

A business may look into getting DSL because of its reliability, but a household may need cable because it is in need of higher upload speeds. There is no way to really choose though because it all comes down to what your ISP offers.

If you want to learn more about technology and anything related to the world, be sure to check out our other articles. If you know someone that has been dealing with slow internet speeds, be sure to share this article with them.