What's the difference between DSL and cable? Learn about how DSL stacks up against cable, or DSL vs cable Internet. Get a comparison of two leading Internet service options and see how it can help your family stay connected.
What is DSL?
DSL, also known as Digital Subscriber Line, is high-speed Internet access that uses existing copper telephone lines from homes and businesses to transmit data. This type of high-speed Internet requires a DSL modem, unless your computer already has an internal modem (frequently called a voiceband modem). As a broadband option, DSL is always on, unlike a traditional dial-up connection. When it comes to speeds, DSL-based connection services can range from several hundred kilobits per second (Kbps) to millions of bits per second (Mbps). However, performance decreases with the length of the cable connecting the DSL subscriber to the closest telephone provider location. This affects availability and the overall speed of service between DSL vs. cable.
One type of DSL transmission is Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL). This is primarily a residential option for families who surf the Internet and may receive a lot of data without sending out very much. This type of transmission provides faster download speeds over the same line as a subscriber's voice service.
Another DSL-based broadband option is Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL). This type of connection is more of a business service for subscribers who need video conferencing and significant bandwidth for both upstream and downstream data. Other faster forms of DSL for businesses include High-bit-rate digital subscriber line (HDSL) and Very-High-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line (VDSL).
What is cable Internet?
Cable Internet is high-speed broadband access that makes use of a cable modem and a coaxial cable, similar to the wiring that feeds into your television set. You can still watch your favorite television shows while you're surfing the Web with cable Internet. When it comes to cable Internet speeds, performance is dependent on a user's cable modem, cable network and traffic load. As for the speed of service between cable vs. DSL, they can yield similar results when put head-to-head when talking about upload speeds, download speeds, and so on.
Now that you're starting to compare the benefits of cable, you may see that there isn't necessarily a right or a wrong choice. You may want to consider the setup of your home network and all the features you're hoping to get out of it. When comparing cable vs. DSL, there is no need to worry about your distance from the service provider's central location.
Which is faster, DSL or cable?
When it comes to cable connection vs. DSL connection for internet access, speeds can fluctuate based on the time of day and a subscriber's overall usage. In a speed test study, researchers found a significant difference between advertised speeds and sustainable speeds. DSL-based services had download speeds that were 85 percent of advertised speeds, while cable-based services delivered 99 percent of advertised speeds. Indeed, DSL and cable speeds might be comparable but cable inches out ahead with faster speeds. Both are high-speed options that can help keep your family connected so they can do more of what they love online, like download files with good download (and upload) speeds, stream their favorite shows, and more.
Options to consider when deciding DSL vs. cable Internet
Now that you know the basics behind broadband technology and how DSL vs. cable compare with one another, there are other factors to consider before making a final decision. Don't get overwhelmed by the similarities between the two. It's recommended that you consider your environment and whether you're in a more urban or rural setting. Find out more about how broadband Internet access is packaged with other services (such as home telephone, home entertainment and home security). What is the availability of both DSL and cable service in your area? How do the prices differ? In the case of cable Internet vs. DSL, the DSL-based broadband might not be readily accessible from your location. Carefully consider the options before selecting the service that's right for you.
When it comes to making a broadband decision between DSL vs. cable Internet, it's best to first evaluate how you'll be using this connection. That way, you can determine what download and upload speeds are the best fit for the digital needs of your household. Once you have a found a great deal or a bundle offer from your Internet service provider, you can get more value over time and won't be worried about the differences between DSL and cable internet anymore.
Xfinity is proud to support the Federal Government’s Affordable Connectivity Program, a temporary subsidy program available for all tiers of Xfinity Internet service, including Internet Essentials. Learn more about the ACP Program to see if you qualify.