DSL Compared to Cable Speeds


Similar to dial-up Internet connections, DSL connections also use standard phone lines to transfer data with the Internet service provider. Cable connections use the same cables that are used for watching cable television to transfer data with the Internet Service Provider. However, both DSL and cable connections require special modems in order to connect the user’s computer with the ISP.

Raw Speed Comparison

DSL Internet Speeds can range from very low speeds such as 768 Kbps to as high as 7 Mbps. Cable connections have speeds ranging from 4 Mbps to 20 Mbps and higher. Therefore, not considering factors such as shared bandwidth or distance from the ISP, cable connections feature superior speeds than DSL connections. However, there is a type of DSL connection called VDSL which can provide speeds of up to 30 Mbps, though ISP’s do not generally offer them to the average customer.


DSL Internet speeds become slower the further you are away from the central office or DSL hub of the ISP. Therefore, users living further away from the ISP can only get speeds of 1.5 Mbps or lower. However, cable Internet speeds are not distance-sensitive no matter how far or near users are to the ISP’s hub. Cable connections are the clear winner when it comes down to distance.

Bandwidth Sharing

DSL connections never share bandwidth with anyone. Even if an area is crowded with DSL users, the bandwidth does not fluctuate with the number of users. However, cable connections share bandwidth with other Internet users in an area, so the more users there are in an area using the same cable service, the lower will be the bandwidth.

Expert Insight

Cable connections are great for downloading large files and streaming high quality videos, but only if you are prepared to pay a higher price for doing so. As of 2010, DSL connections are cheaper than cable connections, though high-end DSL connections can still cost you around $40 to $50 per month. However, it still comes down to distance and shared bandwidth. If you are far away from a DSL hub, consider going for a cable connection. If your area is full of cable Internet users, consider getting a DSL connection.

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