Cable or DSL

Is there any reason I should choose one over the other for a broadband internet connection?

I don’t do anything real fancy on the web, and I’m not all the crazy about eaking out 2% more performance. I do want to set up a wireless hub, though if that matters.

I chose DSL because with a cable modem you’re basically sharing a LAN with any and all the people on your block who have or get them. This means that:[ul][li]Your bandwidth will go down if more people on your block get them[/li][li]In theory, anyone on your block could gain access to your files or monitor your internet usage[/ul]DSL is point to point over your phone line, more secure & private.[/li]
However, DSL is also distance dependent. Even if you’re close enough to get DSL if you’re still far away from the telco’s head office your bandwidth will suffer (and by a lot more than just 2%!) With cable it doesn’t matter so definitely go with cable if this is the case.

And as long as you take a few precautions cable is pretty secure so I would pick whichever’s cheaper and easier.

Both DSL and Cable are shared. The sharing occurs at slightly different places.

I don’t think that your neighbors get to see your packets with cable as the modem does not pass you traffic that is not meant for you. So I don’t think that dsl is anymore secure than cable.

Given that you’re not planning on doing anything fancy and tweaking the last bit of performance out of your connection isn’t an issue, the best reason for choosing one over the other would be service and reliability - and that’s more a function of your local providers than the media over which the connection occurs. The service issue, in particular, could depend on the local fellows riding the service truck more than anything else.

And the folks who would know your local providers best would be your neighbors, so I’m going to recommend that you ask them what their experience has been. Seriously, they’re going to know what you’re about to go through far better than we would.

(What you may find out from your neighbors is that, despite the providers’ ads to the contrary, you won’t be able to get one or the other options in your neightborhood, making your decision really simple.)

FWIW, I have DSL through Verizon. Getting the connection set up the first time was murder, but since then everything’s been running great. (My previous experience with DSL via COVAD/CAIS was not nearly as good.) When I originally got my DSL connection a cable connection wasn’t an option here (it is now, but I’m not touching anything as long as this DSL connection is working <g>.)

Well both have potential advantages/disadvantages.

DSL - The good

More then enough speed for surfing, downloading music, multimedia, etc. You have a dedicated connection via your phone line, so you are insulated to outside factors that could affect speed & performance.

DSL - The bad

Can be pretty pricey (I pay $70 a month). Depending on where you live, and what provider you have, could mean the difference between heaven and hell. Even though you are “insulated” from outside factors (more on this in a minute), there are plenty of things that can screw your connection. Having multiple computers hooked up is ok, but if you intend to have them all in use on the net at the same time, higher bandwidth (a faster dsl package that costs more money) is recommended.

Cable - The good.

Blazing speed, much much faster then dsl. From what I’ve seen prices are more reasonable, usually $39.99 a month or so. Like dsl, quick and easy to set up, and you can hook up multiple computers.

Cable - The bad.

Think of a water pipe coming into a building. In the middle of the night, the water pressure is fine, so filling up the sink and washing the dishes is quick and painless. Now try at about 6:00 PM, right after dinner, when everyone and their mother is washing the dishes. The water pressure (the bandwidth to connect to the net) is much lower, because everyone (the outside factors previously mentioned) in the building has their faucets open! Now depending on how many people in your neighborhood have it, determines how small the pie will be sliced, which can be very good or very bad. Generally, during peak hours of the day, it will be slower, and later at night it will be faster (but who knows? Your building could have all night owls in it).

Conclusion -

Both can be good, bad, fast, slow, problematic, maintenance free, cheap and or expensive.

Your best bet is to give us specifics, i.e. Verizon DSL for $59.99 a month or Roadrunner cable for $39.99 a month. I hope this helped.



They have great info, experiences with providers, and great service reviews.

I’ve heard about the “cable modem slowing down when the neighborhood logs on” story for years, and I’ve had a cable modem for a few years now. I’ve NEVER noticed any slowdowns myself, but of course I might be the only person in my neighborhood with the service. But that seems unlikely.

It HAS been unreliable lately. The past couple months I’ve had to call for service maybe 3 or 4 times, and I’ve had a few days with no service. I almost went to DSL but maybe it’s working Ok now, it’s been a week or so with no problems that I noticed.

I’ve had both. My DSL was going down all the time, and I had to pay for an ISP on top of the DSL charge. I haven’t had a lick of problem with my cable internet, and it’s about half the cost of DSL when you count the cost of the phone line, the DSL, and the ISP. And I’ve never noticed a neighborhood type slowdown either.

2 days of downtime in over 2 years with COVAD DSL.

It’s consistently faster than the office internet connection.


Cable is better. I like in a town with 63k people in it, and my cable has a max speed of 1.9Mbps. I’ve downloaded files from Kazaa at 190Kbps.

Plus if you get cable, you can get a discount on your tv cable bill.

However, the cable goes out for 4-6 hours every now & again. I’d say 3-4 times a month it goes out for several hours (sometimes a full day).

IMO, cable is the only way to go. The cable naysayers say that the bandwidth is reduced by the number of people on your particular block. However, it’s my understanding that it was not the actual reduction in speed, but rather the increased speed (+3.0 whatevers [sub]sorry I don’t remember the technical jargon[/sub])when you were the only one online. However, I recently heard that every user is capped now at 1.5 whatevers so there is no “reduction” in speed.

Cable is simply lightning fast. I’ve had it for a while now (Comcast) and haven’t had a single problem with it. We have our entire house networked so I can plug in anywhere and viola, the internet is at my fingertips. In my area, cable is actually less expensive than DSL.

I have SWB DSL and the speed report, at DSLREPORTS, is consistantly over 1 Meg. A friend 1/4 mile away has Charter cable and his speed is consistantly below .5 Meg. YMMV

DSL isn’t possible if there is fibre in your local loop (something which I thought was on the increase).

Btw, I’ll throw my situation into the mix. I live in NYC and have Verizon DSL 1500/128 that I’ve tweaked UL and DL faster, and have never had a single problem since the day it was turned on. I have 3 computers connected to a hub, and the hub is connected to a router, which is connected to the dsl modem.

This was actually the problem I had since I live in a brand new building. It took 2 years (seriously) to get Verizon to send a tech down to the basement, and move my line to a copperbox they had put in but never connected.

Since then I haven’t had any problems. :stuck_out_tongue:

i can’t wait to change my DSL to cable, with cable i will be able to share my files with friends, with DSL the 128k upload speed is ridiculously slow. DSL = garbage, i had it for 4 years so far. Cable still not available at my appartment.

You’ll be happy with either, unless the provider sucks, and that could happen with both.

downloading is fine with DSL, the problem is, you can’t always download from people and not get them pissed, sometimes you must let them upload to keep them happy, ADSL does not let you do that too much … and SDSL is ridiculously priced. imho there is no contest, its cable all the way.

We’re working on that. Implementing Packet At the Remote Terminal Service (PARTS). A few hundred Alcatel Lightspan 2000 concentrators are already up and running in the field. I just hope there’s somebody out there who still wants it.

As you can read, service & speed vary a lot.

I’ve had Verizon DSL for a year and a half with only one major downtime. It was a breeze to install. I pay $59/month for 1.5MB/sec (you can get 750KB/sec for $49). That includes Verizon serving as your ISP.

True, upload speeds are slow w/ ADSL but you shouldn’t be sharing MP3s anyway! :wink:

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