As more and more subsidized internet plans for the poor come out, many will be faced with a choice of choosing cable or DSL service. This article can help you learn about the differences in their speed.
Speed is important for Internet users worldwide. The United States Census Bureau reports that 63.5 percent of Internet-enabled homes had broadband connections–connections that provide high-speed access to the Internet–in 2009. In contrast, only about four percent of Internet users in the United States used dial-up connections.
The most popular types of broadband connections are DSL, which stands for digital subscriber line, and cable. Because DSL runs through high-speed phone lines, many telephone companies offer DSL, while cable modems are usually available from cable television companies. As the name implies, a cable modem creates a connection through a standard home cable TV line.
If you have access to both of these options, you’ve probably wondered whether one type of connection is inherently faster than the other. There are dozens of factors that affect bandwidth, so unfortunately there is no perfect answer. In order to select the best possible Internet option in the area, you need to understand how Internet companies measure connections and how your Internet usage habits affect your speeds.
Common Misconceptions About Internet Speed
Most Internet providers in the United States measure Internet speed in megabits per second, commonly abbreviated as Mbps. A cable provider might advertise speeds of 5-30Mbps, which means that Internet users can purchase plans that allow their computers to download data at speeds of anywhere from 5 to 30 megabits per second.
Many Internet users misread megabits as megabytes, since megabytes are a more commonly used data measurement. There are eight megabits in a single megabyte, so in order to download at speeds of 1.0 megaybytes per second, you would need at least an 8Mbps connection.
DSL lines typically cap out at 5-10Mbps, although new technologies allow for higher speeds. Cable technology offers standard upload and download higher speeds overall, with some plans offering 10Mbps download streams, but there are some notable advantages to a DSL line. DSL lines are generally more dependable and are often less expensive than cable broadband. If you live in a rural area, you also might not have access to cable. DSL is available almost everywhere.
DSL is a broadband connection and offers ample download speeds for many users. A 5Mbps connection is sufficient for watching online videos, listening to music and general web browsing. You should also note that there are plenty of factors beside your Internet provider’s limitations that can affect your Internet speed.
Factors That Might Affect Your Internet Speed
Your Internet connection is essentially a pipe that can only handle a certain amount of data at a given time. If you have multiple computers in your house, all of the computers draw data through the digital pipe, occasionally leading to congestion.
For most DSL and cable lines, this type of congestion won’t cause a major draw on your Internet speeds, but note that providers handle uploads and downloads differently. If you regularly upload data–for instance, if you send a lot of videos to YouTube or if you use torrents–you might reach your data limitations quickly, and your connection will slow noticeably.
Both cable and DSL lines put limitations on your upload and download bandwidth, and you’ll lose a significant amount of speed when you reach your limits. Note both your upload and download limits when evaluating cable and DSL providers in your area and think about how you use your connection. If you regularly upload data, your provider’s download limitation might not be the most important number to consider when you choose an Internet plan.
Getting The Best Internet Connection For Your Money
You should evaluate all of your options when choosing an Internet provider. If you have access to both cable and DSL, consider your usage habits and get a few price quotes. Consider bundling your Internet services with your telephone or TV plan to get a better deal. Remember to monitor your Internet usage habits to get the best possible speed and test your connection occasionally with an Internet speed test website to make sure that your connection is strong.
Both DSL and cable can provide high-speed connections, and while cable is technically faster, DSL offers sufficient connectivity for most Americans. Its versatility and its numerous advantages over cable make up for its minor bandwidth limitations.