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DSL vs Cable Internet: A Short Guide

DSL vs Cable Internet: A Short Guide

Choosing an internet type that suits your needs can be quite tricky sometimes. There are multiple options, and each looks more interesting than the last, and all the speed tiers and pricing plans can be confusing. When you look for an internet provider, you are likely to see two types of services pop up in the chat very frequently. DSL internet and cable internet. While they are very similar in the way that both use cable to travel, these two service types could not be any more different. 

Both of these service types have their upsides and downsides, a big part of which we will discuss in this article today. We hope to enlighten you on the concepts of DSL and cable internet and which service type best suits your needs. So let’s begin!

What Is DSL Internet?

DSL is short for Digital Subscriber Line and is an internet type that utilizes the copper cable of a telephone network to deliver internet from one region to another. It is quite convenient to use even in the rural areas and suburban regions because most homes in the US are wired for telephones even if they don’t have an active connection. The United States witnesses coverage of over 80% of DSL nationwide, which is no easy feat.

How does a DSL internet service work, you ask? It is quite simple, really. A DSL modem connects your standard phone cable line to the internet. Most DSL internet providers rent out their modems at a small monthly charge, but you can decide to invest in one to save up on some money. DSL is a sharp contrast to dial-up internet, which did use telephone lines but was a lot slower than DSL. Even the slowest speed tiers with DSL are lightning fast when compared to any speeds dial-up internet had to offer.

There are quite a few providers that serve DSL internet, although most of them also have other service tiers like cable and fiber internet available. These providers include but are not limited to Frontier, EarthLink, and CenturyLink, being some of the largest names in the DSL industry.

What Is Cable Internet?

Cable internet employs the use of a coaxial cable similar to likes of a TV cable that brings the connection to your house. This is because a coax cable is typically able to support a greater bandwidth than is possible with a DSL connection; hence it has better and faster speeds than the former. Cable internet is widely available, especially in areas that support cable television with great coverage and undeniably good service.

Cable internet is ideal because it is relatively unaffected by weather changes such as storms and hurricanes. It also has good speeds that are a lot faster than your average DSL connection. However, since a cable provides internet to most houses in a neighborhood, it can lead to exhaustion of bandwidth and hence slower speeds during peak hours when everyone is online. Even so, cable internet has faster speeds than most DSL plans and more efficiency in most places. 

Cable internet is the epitome of the internet experience, with most providers in the US offering it. Providers like Xfinity, COX, and Spectrum are most cable internet providers and have made a name in the industry. Internet providers like AT&T and TDS are much more versatile, giving you both a taste of cable and DSL internet. 

Cable Internet vs. DSL – Speeds

When we talk about internet speeds, we have to understand what each service type can easily achieve. DSL internet typically has more modest speeds, and your pricing plan closely relates to the speed tier you get. Internet speeds for most DSL providers range between 3 Mbps for the slower plans to 100 Mbps for their fastest plans. The lower speed plans with DSL can support browsing and all but not too much gaming and online streaming or video conferencing. With higher-speed DSL plans, it is much easier to do anything you want online. For example, with the TDS internet plans for DSL, you can explore multiple speed options.

One thing to bear in mind with DSL internet is that the speed is very dependent on the distance from the ISP. Since the speed degrades the longer it travels, the further you are from the ISP, you are likely to receive slower speeds. This is a bit inconvenient, but cable internet does not have the same reservations. 

In contrast, cable internet has a platter that serves multiple speed options, most of which are greater than DSL speed plans. You can pick on a speed tier and pricing plan and stick to it. Average cable internet speeds range between 10 Mbps to 1000 Mbps, the latter of which are called gigabit plans. Gigabit plans are only supported with modems that are DOCSIS 3.1 or higher and can support speeds up to 10000 Mbps, although residential plans usually do not come with these speeds. So, all in all, cable internet wins this round in terms of internet speed.

Cable Internet vs. DSL – Pricing Plans

Pricing plans with DSL are much more affordable when compared to cable internet plans. On average, DSL plans range between $20 to $45 per month and provide good enough internet speeds for casual use. There is no point in paying a large amount of money for bandwidth you would not use, so DSL is a great idea for smaller families. Some DSL internet plans like those for CenturyLink are unlimited but even when you get data caps like for TDS internet plans, and they are quite high. DSL plans also are quite good because they usually have locked prices, so you would not see a price hike for a year or two following your subscription. 

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In comparison, cable internet plans tend to be a bit on the higher side. Xfinity internet, for example, does offer lower-priced plans starting at $20 for most states, but they go up to $90 per month depending upon the speeds you get. Average cable internet pricing plans range between $30 to $100 per month, varying with providers and plans. However, cable internet pricing tends to increase over time once the promotional period ends and is not always the most economical option out there. 

Conclusion: Cable Internet or DSL?

One of the greatest advantages that you get with DSL internet is that it is available in most US regions. Rural areas and suburban areas especially, which are far from cable internet and fiber, get to enjoy good speed internet because of DSL internet only. You get speeds decent enough to support everyday life with DSL and at prices that don’t leave you broke at the end of the month. All these things make DSL a worthy choice if you live in the suburbs and have a small family with not too advanced internet requirements. 

Cable internet, on the other hand, has a slightly different outlook on life. It supports faster speeds and has wide coverage throughout the States, so most areas receive it, although DSL still prevails in the rural regions. Cable internet plans are also more expensive when compared to DSL, although they do come in varying price plans. However, bundling with cable internet may give you better value for your money than getting all the services separately. 

If you are confused about what to get, you can go for a provider like TDS. TDS internet plans have both DSL and cable options, so you can choose whatever makes the most sense to you. 

Remember, you do you!