Cable is in, broadband is fading out and dial-up left a long time ago (although, there are a few that still use it). People in North America are ditching their broadband DSL services in favor of the high-speed connections offered by many cable providers.
Cable companies deliver the Internet using the same coaxial cable they already send your television through. If you have cable, then all you will need is a special cable-ready modem and an ethernet network card. DSL runs through your phone lines and the connection is similar to the cable Internet setup with a DSL modem and an ethernet card.
There are several reasons people will change from broadband to cable Internet, but if you ask most people the main reasons they are switching are because of price, availability and speed.
This is probably the major reason most people swap how they receive their Internet service. Installation costs for both DSL and cable are comparable, and frequently, both cable and phone companies will offer it for free. There isn’t much of a price difference if you are strictly running Internet. Cable Internet service tends to be a slightly lower cost than DSL on a month-to-month basis. The big price difference between the two services is in the package deals. If you already have Cable TV, then for a small additional cost, you can add cable Internet to your package. This also allows you to consolidate your bills and make one easy payment. Many people have already dropped their home landlines, or rarely even use them, so adding a package deal to your home phone isn’t quite as appealing.
If you are seeing advertising for cable High Speed Internet on your television or with your cable bill, then it is probably available in your area. If you are already receiving Cable TV, then Cable Internet is already there.
Broadband access is dependent on several factors that may not qualify you for DSL service or, even if you get it, you may not be getting decent speeds. The closer you live to a phone company’s central office switch, the better. Distance between you and the switch is a determining factor for the availability and speed of a DSL connection. Additional factors that can hinder a DSL signal are voice boosters and bridge taps, which are both commonly used when an older phone is routed to a new neighborhood. The distance between you and the switch is actually measured as the length of the line, not the physical distance.
Cable Internet offers a more consistent speed from user to user. Cable bandwidth is technically shared amongst your neighborhood, but unless you neighborhood is full of network servers and avid movie pirates, you won’t notice much of a speed variance. Cable Internet has a massively high bandwidth limit on the overall neighborhood connection. Your personal bandwidth, on the other hand, is going to be limited per the terms of your contract.
DSL speed is not affected by others in your neighborhood, but it is affected by the distance from the switching box and various factors that would also affect your phone line. The shorter the line between your house and the phone company’s central office switch box, the faster your connection speed will be.
Installation of both Internet systems can be easy. DSL uses your existing phone jacks and phone box, and your modem plugs directly into the wall. If you want an Internet connection in a room without an existing phone jack, then you will have to contact the phone company and request installation. With cable, you can splice the existing cable line yourself and run your own cable, to your cable-ready modem in any room. Both systems can be “plug and play,” with only minor work on your end. If you have trouble, both will send out a technician to help you with installation.
Cable Providers or Broadband DSL?
If you want speed and you are close to a switch box, then DSL is the way to go. If you are not near a switch box and you want a decent Internet speed, then your best option might be your local cable providers, so see what they offer. If both cable and DSL are viable options, then shop around as companies for both will compete for your business. It will pay to shop around and compare both offerings before you make your final decision. So enter your street address in the top right form on this page to see what deals are being offered by Cable and Internet providers in your area.
Sometimes your best bet may even be to talk to your neighbor — maybe they have already done the research and can steer you one direction or the other.