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Cable / DSL High-Speed Internet

Cable and Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) are the two most common options available for broadband Internet access in the home. Broadband or high-speed Internet has a data transmission rate that is nine times faster than a modem using a standard telephone line. Both cable and DSL require a subscription and specialized equipment, but both are convenient ways to connect a computer to access the Internet at high speeds.

Cable (High Speed Internet Access)

As the name suggests, cable is high speed Internet access that transmits data over the cable television infrastructure. Cable Internet access is provided through a special modem. The modem can be a:

  • Stand-alone unit with a cable connector
  • PCI card installed in a computer
  • Part of a cable box that provides both cable television and Internet connection.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cable (High Speed Internet Access)

A cable modem connection is a true always-on Internet connection, as the modem itself is always in communication with the Internet bridge. This is in contrast to DSL, which uses the computer's hardware to maintain the connection.

Cable offers other advantages over DSL. For one, the speed of the data transmission is less dependent on the distance between your cable connection and the location of the service provider. Also, a technology called Voice over IP (VoIP) makes it possible to access telephone services through the Internet. Since most DSL service requires the purchase of voice telephone service, most VoIP users prefer cable modems.

One drawback of cable is that it usually requires the purchase of cable television service. In addition, the data speed is dependent on the number of users sharing the cable connection at one time; this means that during peak hours, cable Internet may slow down for some users. This has been less of a problem in recent years.

DSL (High Speed Internet Access)

A DSL Internet connection utilizes existing telephone lines for data transmission without interfering with normal voice service. This means that DSL is likely available if your home is already wired for telephone service. There is very little additional equipment required, except for the DSL modem, which connects to the telephone jack and is usually provided when you purchase a subscription to DSL service.

Advantages and Disadvantages of DSL (High Speed Internet Access)

Many telephone companies are offering DSL service as part of a bundle that includes voice service. The ease of installation is one of the primary advantages of DSL.

One of the major disadvantages of DSL is that its speed is dependent on distance; that is, the data transmission is slower when the DSL is further from the point where the DSL is being sent. Also, because of its design, DSL's upload speed tends to be much slower than its download speed.