DSL Vs. Cable Internet


Most customers don’t know or care about the ins and outs of how Internet providers work, just as long as they can get access to the internet at high speeds. If you’ve recently moved or are considering changing your internet service, you’ll have to ask what kind of access you need. For most people the option will be between a DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), or Cable Internet provider.

What’s available? How fast does it need to be? Will it be used for personal or commercial use? There are several differences between the two services that will affect which one you choose. Listed below are key differences between DSL and Cable Internet.



Cable internet is generally about three times faster than DSL, but the actual speed depends on several factors. Cable speed depends on what sort of package you purchase and how many users are sharing bandwidth. Cable is typically shared with others in your neighborhood and the speed can fluctuate, depending on how many different people are using it at the same time.

DSL speeds won’t change the way cable does, but overall it won’t be as fast and depends on the package level and your location. The highest available speeds for DSL aren’t as good as Cable. Theoretical speeds of higher end cable modems are around 100+ Mbps, while DSL can get only around 24Mbps, and only if you are physically located close enough to the provider’s office—because quality diminishes with distance.

What you get practically depends on who is using it, how much internet traffic there is and whether or not your provider is throttling your service to make sure no one else’s service is interrupted.


DSL is usually cheaper than Cable. The actual price varies and is less obvious because companies like to offer different tiers and bundle internet with other services, like phone. Prices will be comparable, but the average DSL cost will be lower than the average Cable cost sincespeed and availability are lower.

Availability And Reliability

DSL uses your existing phone line. The signal strength depends on thedistance between you and the phone company’s office, and the quality of the wire used to transmit the signal. Since the signal uses the copper wire phone line, the further away you are from the source, the weaker and slower the connection will be. Speeds start to decrease after about 7,000 feet. If you are physically too far from the provider, the connection will either be unreliable or not available.

Cable internet is available wherever you can get digital cable TV, which means it’s more available than DSL. Cable is run through the coaxial cable that connects your TV, so you’ll get the same quality signal no matter where you are located.

SEE ALSO: Cable Internet


Whether you should get DSL or Cable depends on your needs: Do you want higher download speeds if it costs a little more? Are you using it for business needs or just personal ones? Will you be willing to pay more for a reliable signal?

DSL connection will be adequate for most customers’ demands. Since it is more affordable and the signal isn’t shared with anyone else, it has become very popular. Although, as the world becomes more connected and the demand for faster data transferring increases; users may be willing to pay for the higher speed and therefore opt for Cable providers.

Date of original publication:
Updated on: November 10, 2015

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