Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cable vs. DSL

Recent events have prompted me to officially publicize my opinion about the different advantages of Cable and DSL "high-speed" internet access.

Both DSL and Cable will require a modem. The modem is a separate small piece of hardware that translates between you and the internet. Each requires its own special modem, they can't be interchanged. Usually your internet provider will try to sell you a modem when you sign up for the service. I've seen the best deals with DSL. DSL modems tend to come with a rebate for the whole price of the modem, so it ends up yours for free. Most cable providers will lease you a modem for a small fee every month, usually $5. This is fine as long as you don't plan to have it for more than a few months. Eventually, you'll have paid enough every month for it to have been cheaper to just buy one from Best Buy or Fry's.

The modem will have two main ports on it: one to connect to the cable or phone line. The other is an ethernet port that you will connect to something on your end. If you have only one computer, the other end will be your computer. If you will be using a wireless router, then the other end will be the Internet or WAN port on the router. The router splits the signal so that multiple computers can access the same modem.

So the main difference between DSL and cable is speed. Cable is normally faster than DSL. However, DSL has a guaranteed speed. Cable access speeds can vary depending on how many people in the neighborhood are using it at one time. Sometimes cable is faster than DSL, sometimes it is slower. If you're willing to put up with the variations, go with Cable because you'll get an average higher speed.

My vote has been with DSL because i like the guaranteed speed. Which one is better will depend on your needs.