Solved

Non-expert needs help choosing between DSL  or Cable

Posted on 2002-06-03
26
327 Views
Last Modified: 2013-12-14
I am currently using AOL 7.0 with the DSL modem they provided, plugged into a USB port.  Sometimes it seems fast, other times I can't believe how slow pages load.  Also everything I've read refers to "instant on" or "always connected"; which isn't how mine works, I still have to sign on, etc.  

My head's full of "the old BBS days" and no matter how much I try to get up to date, I just get more confused.  All I want is to find a way to access the internet, in the quickest, cheapest and most efficient ways possible.
Without all the hype.  

Help me please?!
0
Comment
Question by:TackyKatt
  • 8
  • 5
  • 2
  • +7
26 Comments
 
LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:jdfulton
ID: 7051410
The best thing to do is contact your local telephone company.  They should have DSL access.  It would be more reliable than AOL's.  Plus it should be cheaper.

Let me know if you want more info.  What city are you located in and I can check on info for you.
0
 
LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:highstar1
ID: 7051699
Get away from AOL. Any of us computer geeks would tell you that AOL is not the best way to connect to the net.

Many ISP's can connect you with alot less expense and alot faster access than you are getting through AOL.

AOL only has a gateway to the internet.
0
 
LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:jdfulton
ID: 7051704
The best thing to do is contact your local telephone company.  They should have DSL access.  It would be more reliable than AOL's.  Plus it should be cheaper.

Let me know if you want more info.  What city are you located in and I can check on info for you.
0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:t1n0m3n
ID: 7052942
Um, who do you think is providing the DSL facilities for AOL?
The local telco of course.
I would check for spyware on your computer.  That could explain the random slowdowns.  http://www.lavasoftusa.com/
comes to mind.  You might give your neighborhood teen geek a call and see if he can look to see if you have spyware.

While I agree that for me AOL sucks big time, it does have it's usefulness for non-technical that don't want to put up with the crap of using a plain jane ISP.  Like I said, your local telco is probably providing the DSLAM facilities, so if the problem is local, you may not get rid of the problem.

However, keep in mind, that local telcos are known to give Competitive Local Exchange Carrier's (CLEC) (AOL in this case) second rate equipment/lines.  In this case you may be better off purchasing the DSL from the local exchange carrier (LEC,) and then purchasing the AOL service separately.  Expensive, but it is an option.

0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:ITsheresomewhere
ID: 7053181
As always whenever a question contains AOL in the title the subject tends to degrade to an AOL bashing party versus addressing the actual question asked.  Kind of like saying Microsoft and hearing the Penquins in the audience grown.

So restating,  which is better DSL or Cable.  My DSL does not seem to be all that is claimed in the public press? Would cable be a better option?  Or Do all providers just over hype their products?

Response:

Internet access service levels vary across the country. In addition they vary between providers of the same service type.  And hard as it is to imagine, believe it or not there are places, not just in forgotten small towns or far away places, but major cities, where neither DSL or Cable is available. And dial up access ISPs slug it out to claim they are the best.

The only reality with any Internet Service Provider is "your mileage may vary".  

Now to normalize things, if you had common DSL service (which means that the upload speed is slower then the dowload speed by design, which is the most commonly available service nationwide) and were comparing it to common Cable service (which is equal in both directions because they haven't yet wanted to fuss with it), at this time Cable is just going to blow DSL away.  I know I have DSL, a good level of DSL, not the best but still very good compared to others, and it still is not as good as my next door neighbors Cable service for just plain download speed and upload speed.  Their pipe is bigger, fact.

Now that could change, as the telephone companies want you to believe.  The structure of cable is sharing of a pipe, just like in the office or company your sharing the pipe, and if too many people were added to the same pipe all that sharing will slow it down.  And in some areas where cable is widely chosen as "the way" to have fast Internet it does slow down a bit, say at 3:00 every day when every kid in the world decides to start downloading 10 full albums at one time.  But the network adjusts and stabilizes and you just live with it.

DSL on the other hand is much more distance sensitive relative to connection points on the telephone network.  If I move 10 blocks one direction they can increase my stable connection speed 30% and that I would see.  Why? Because I live at the edge of distance boundries and at this time, while the phone company could put better equipment in to correct it, they just aren't going to spend the money.  Fact of Life.

Now those are statements based on just simple design issues.  The quality, ability, technical expertise, staffing, and amount of money ISP's are willing to invest, and the prices they charge can make it a jungle to select who to use.  Add to that service agreements, early termination fees, and/or installation fees and sometimes even though you want to change it can be difficult.  And the other fact is every one has been spoiled by the constant "free" or constant "cheapest" angles we got early on in the internet boomtime.  Kind of like saying I want the best Mercedes, but cheap like a KIA.  Ain't gonna happen.  You get what your willing to pay for.

In the end it comes down to sorting through all those "buzz words", marketing hype, asking friends and neighbors about their experiences, and then making a rational best guess on the service that fits you.

Remember if you think your DSL is bad/slow take a free trip on the old 56k dialup again for a day or two, reality check.  If you want more, then cable is the current champ but that two can change.  They are talking about repricing cable to a "usage" service, x amount of transfer per month, and then a premium charge.  Give it a year and it could well be the standard.  Much like the so many hours per month, before the all you can eat brunch, brought to you by AOL.

Those are some thoughts, time to fall off this soap box.

ITsy

ps. I was with AOL, I see its place, I tested its DSL for them, but currently have chosen to wander the web outside their embrace. And without AOL the internet really wouldn't be the must have that it is today. fact.

 
0
 
LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:highstar1
ID: 7053880
I am very happy with my cable internet connection.
I'm running at an average of 2.5meg download speed.
I have never had any problem with them and I have many machines of different types (Sun Sparc,Pentium, etc) hooked up at the same time. No Problems. When I have had to make a service call they have been very fast in fixing the problem and rebate me some money for the inconvenience. DSL is not available in my area. I do have many friends that have ADSL, none have the speed that I do. They have to spend more money to get to my speed level.
0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:mbruner
ID: 7054035
In my opinion, both T1n0m3n and ITsy are right.  Changing your DSL provider may not get you anything, since the DSL service is ultimately provided by your local telephone company.  Also, comparing DSL to cable is very difficult because the technologies involved are so different.  According to www.speedguide.net, "Generally, Cable Modems can achieve better throughput, which varies a lot, while DSL usually provides a more constant feed, with lower latency. "

The quality of service you get from your cable or DSL provider is highly subjective and will definitely vary from town to town (or possibly neighborhood to neighborhood).  My recommendation to you would be to ask around and see how other people in your neighborhood and/or community feel about the local cable and DSL services.  You may even be able to demo some of the services at a local technology store (e.g CompUSA).

Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth.  I hope it helps.  Good luck!

0
 

Expert Comment

by:whfirewalker
ID: 7081069
I use DSL with Bellsouth and most of the time it is super fast.  Although at times it becomes slow due to internet traffic just like dialup.  

Cable modems will lose speed if several people in your area are on the internet using cable.  Has to do with band width.

As for AOL it has its uses.  I have an AOL account but I do all my web surfing with IE6.  I sign on to AOL from my ISP at bellsouth and it is fast most of the time slowing during high peek time.

Hope this helps.  DSL is better than Cable because you have your own band width not shared with neighbors.

Larry
0
 
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:The--Captain
ID: 7081319
Larry says:

>Hope this helps.

Which apparently indicates he didn't bother to read the AUP regarding comments vs answers - otherwise he would have provided a true answer and said:

"I know this will ultimately and absolutely answer your question"

Larry - get a clue and read the AUP, and *never* post a comment as an "answer" unless you can be absolutely sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are providing the ultimate, unassailable, and unique answer to a particular question.  Otherwise all you are doing is pissing off the rest of us, and usually the original poster as well, who finds his question locked and unnoticed by the majority of EE...

Next time, RTFM - hard to believe you own your own consulting business and haven't yet learned that lesson.

Cheers,
-Jon

0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:t1n0m3n
ID: 7081605
The--Captain:
Why so hostile?
Do you purposely troll around looking for people to flame that propose answers?  Why don't you try to answer some questions instead of looking for people to flame?

I don't see any attempt to answer by you before whfirewalker proposed the answer.  So what right do you have to flame that person?  I could understand if you made a comment first.  But since you didn't it makes to look like a jackass.  
0
 
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:The--Captain
ID: 7082215
Strong words from someone who has answered a whole two questions at EE.  I answer enough questions to get EE Pro for free.  I assume anyone who has compared our user profiles is laughing pretty hard at your expense right now, or at least realizes you are full of crap.

I was going to post a constructive comment here, but noticed that the other experts had elready said most of what I was going to say, but here it goes for what it's worth...

AOl always requires you to sign on - it called value-added service.  However, you may be already constantly connected to the internet (what happens if you just fire up your browser and don't use AOL?)

Also, larry says:

>DSL is better than Cable because you have your own
>band width [sic] not shared with neighbors

This is the most widely shared myth in networking (usually passed around by DSL salesfolks).  Everyone who sells residential access oversubscribes - otherwise, they go out of business.  Cable folks just tend to oversubscribe a bit closer to the end-user, is all.  If you go with a DSL provider, and it gets wildly popular, your speed will decrease, just like cable.  Sure, you may continue to get a guaranteed 128 up/768 down to your provider, but beyond that (from a network topology standpoiont) you may well have to contend with other traffic.

Any more requests from the gallery of clueless newbies?

Cheers,
-Jon


0
 

Expert Comment

by:whfirewalker
ID: 7082827
evidently the captain is a 12 yr old looking for a fight!

Sorry I used the wrong wording as no one had attempted to answer the questions.  I did. If you have a better answer please fell free to share your 12yrs of knowledge.

0
 
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:The--Captain
ID: 7083040
>evidently the captain is a 12 yr old looking for a fight!
Hypocrite.

>no one had attempted to answer the questions
What do you call ITsheresomewhere's eloquent (and lengthy)response?  I presume you didn't read it, since you also violated the AUP by simply reposting info he already provided (well, all the info you posted that wasn't flat wrong, and most of it was, or was simply anecdotal).  I think I was the one with some unique info not yet posted (that AOL always requires periodic authentication, regardless of your connectivity).

>your 12yrs

Makes you look really dumb when twelve-year-olds can read much better than you apparently can, argue circles around you, and know much more about networking in general.

Care to insult yourself a bit more?

Cheers,
-Jon

0
How your wiki can always stay up-to-date

Quip doubles as a “living” wiki and a project management tool that evolves with your organization. As you finish projects in Quip, the work remains, easily accessible to all team members, new and old.
- Increase transparency
- Onboard new hires faster
- Access from mobile/offline

 
LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:lexxwern
ID: 7083146
take this to the lounge please. TackyKatt didnot ask this Q for wanting to read a messy flame thread.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/lounge/
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:ianB
ID: 7083250
I have to concur with lexxwern's last comment.

Can we please calm down and all remember that the reason we are here is to help members with their answers. The good thing about EE is that we all come from different backgrounds and technical levels, that mix is what makes it so good to get help here. Lets try and keep it professional and amicable, and its probably best to contact Community Services in cases of dispute, as we can usually intervene without cluttering up a members thread.

TackyKatt I apologize for the direction your question has taken here.

whfirewalker I am going to reject your answer here and allow TackyKatt to choose the best answer. My feelings here is that there is no "black and white" answer here, and by allowing TackyKatt to ask followup questions etc he/she will get a more individual answer.

The--Captain, I would prefer for you to contact CS when you feel experts are not obeying the rules. We can usually handle it away from the question and not clutter member threads.

Now, lets not have anymore comments here about the flaming, I only want comments that are for TackyKatt, any flaming or off topic posts will be rmeoved. If you want to help the member, post help and advice here, else you can goto http://www.experts-exchange.com/commspt/Q_20312537.html where CS was asked to intervene.

Thanks
Ian
Dir of Community Support @ Experts Exchange
0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:t1n0m3n
ID: 7084182
-----Cut-------
This is the most widely shared myth in networking (usually passed around by DSL salesfolks).  Everyone
who sells residential access oversubscribes - otherwise, they go out of business.  Cable folks just
tend to oversubscribe a bit closer to the end-user, is all.  If you go with a DSL provider, and it gets
wildly popular, your speed will decrease, just like cable.  Sure, you may continue to get a guaranteed
128 up/768 down to your provider, but beyond that (from a network topology standpoiont) you may well
have to contend with other traffic.
-----Cut-------

That is true, but since the bandwidth oversubscription is aggregated at one point, (Instead of being distributed all over the city like cable is) don't you think that it would be easier (and more likely) to give increased bandwidth to subscribers when dsl needs it?  Yes, everything pretty much is oversubscribed.  That is a fact of life.  But how you can manage the oversubscription...that is the advantage.
0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:t1n0m3n
ID: 7084186
And if your DSL provider is good (like mine is) you will never know that you are oversubscribed.  (Unlike cable.)
0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:t1n0m3n
ID: 7084305
ianB,
Thankyou

Captain
I was commenting on your behaviour, not you personally.
I find your behaviour of jumping into a thread just to flame someone in bad taste, so I called you on it.  You trying to attack me personally was icing on the cake. LOL


0
 
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:The--Captain
ID: 7084429
My sincere apologies - I am humbled

I agree that oversubscription is often poorly managed by cable companies, and indeed it is also dependant on where the bandwidth contention takes place - better performace will indeed be achieved by postponing customer bandwidth aggregation as close to the transit points/upstreams as possible, but to simply state that you don't have to contend with others for bandwidth when using DSL is just plain wrong.  I guess my point was everyone contends for bandwidth.

Actually, I have had cable for a few years, and bandwidth contention is not a complaint for me I can get 350KB/s (that's *bytes*, not bits) or more from fast servers.  I *do* have my share of complaints about their service, but bandwidth contention is not one of them, although I certainly agree I am lucky in that regard.

Cheers,
-Jon


0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:t1n0m3n
ID: 7084532
I agree, strictly speaking *everything* concerning internet access is based on oversubscription.  I thought that was understood, but thanks for pointing it out.  It's just that DSL has one less oversubscription than cable : the neighborhood.  You are lucky that your access is fast.  My access was fast when I had cable too....but during peak times my cable modem would reset itself.  After many months and cable modem replacements later, the cable technician told me that the area that I was in had many problems because too many people in my area had cable modems.  So, not only did I have to fight for bandwidth, I had to fight for the service itself also.  My DSL is *always* (always meaning from peak usage time to nonpeak usage times) 1150Kbps down and 130Kbps up.  Now this is considerably slower than my cable modem during nonpeak times, but it is about the same during peak usage times.  (Down not up)  BUT!  It is always available.  No connectivity problems like cable.
So when choosing between cable and DSL you have to evaluate your neighborhood.  Are the people in your neighborhood *most likely* able to be able to afford cable internet service?  Then I would go with DSL.  But if you live in apartments, or lower income neighborhoods, then I would go with cable.  (Not saying that apartments are low income, just that apartments tend to be overbuilt by the cable companies, because of the amount of people living there.)  Also, like any other rule of thumb, there are going to be exceptions.  So to sum it up, the best rule of thumb for making a choice : Your Mileage May Vary.
:)
0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:t1n0m3n
ID: 7084556
So I said all of that to say this.
Give ITsheresomewhere the points and close this ticket.
(Unless you want us to clarify something.)
ITsheresomewhere's answer was the first spot on and correct answer here.  All other comments (with notable exceptions) were in support of that answer.
0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:t1n0m3n
ID: 7084575
Oh, yes, I don't see this in the thread anywhere...
http://www.dslreports.com
can give you insight as to what subcribers think of their internet service in your area.   This may help you make a decision also. (It reports on cable ISPs too.)
0
 

Author Comment

by:TackyKatt
ID: 7097206
What exactly is bandwidth, anyway?  Or do I need to know that...

Why can't I simply access the internet, somehow - with my own modem?  I'll try that dslreports.com.  Thanks.
0
 
LVL 3

Accepted Solution

by:
ITsheresomewhere earned 100 total points
ID: 7098176
Hi TackyKatt

;-) I figured we, my windy self strongly included, had overwhelmed you.

Bandwidth - hmm well basically how much can go some place in a particular amount of time. A measurement of data flow.

Basic phone modems have small bandwidth, thus they tend to be ok for simple internet connections like email, chatting and short quick stuff.  But they can slow down drastically when you try to get big things like streaming music, videos, and fancy web pages.  This slowing causes things to be choppy, unclear, not displayed properly or just waiting for ever.  

Cable and DSL are the next consumer, and many businesses, level.  The have higher bandwidth, more can flow faster, and either improve the internet experience or make it so more people can be on one connection without noticeable interruptions.  Their ratings can be 8 to 50 times, or more, faster than a regular phone modem. And much more dependable.

From there it gets into a whole bunch of codes T1 T3 OC3 etc etc.  All meaning bigger and bigger pipes.

And why can't you use your own modem?

Well it most likely is a analog modem designed for regular phone lines and it simply wont work with the digital connection that is DSL or Cable.  It is the digital aspect that makes all the bigger faster happen.  Now you could buy you own digital modem and maybe not use the one provided by the AOL/ISP.  But it would be a hassle and they probably wouldn't help you with it in case of a problem.

So unless you really want to dig into all this stuff, its best to go with what is provided, at least until you can learn all you want to.

Hopefully some of this has been of help, rather than confuse you more.

Let us know if you need more.

ITsy
0
 

Author Comment

by:TackyKatt
ID: 7107994
Thanks, everyone.  I'm choosing this for my answer, because first, I can relate to the 'handle' "ITsheresomewhere" and secondly, 'he' summed it all up with I'm basically going to have to do my own homework.
0
 
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:The--Captain
ID: 7109029
In case you missed this within the firey conflagration above

>AOL always requires you to sign on - it called value-
>added service.  However, you may be already constantly
>connected to the internet (what happens if you just fire
>up your browser and don't use AOL?)

This should help clarify your "always-on" question.

>Why can't I simply access the internet, somehow - with my
>own modem?  

You can, in most cases - I don't think AOL has yet moved into the cable modem subscriber market (although I heard they had plans to do so).  Try using your browser (IE, Netscape/Mozilla, etc) and see what happens...

BTW, bandwidth is basically how much data you can send/receive in a certain amount of time - not to be confused with latency, which is how long it takes to get there.  A favorite (paraphrased) quote follows "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a truck full of DLTs travelling down the highway at 70MPH".  You see, this would be a great example of high latency (takes the truck a while to arrive) and huge bandwidth (but when it gets there, the data load per time spent is still huge).

Doing my pennance,
-Jon

0

Featured Post

What Is Threat Intelligence?

Threat intelligence is often discussed, but rarely understood. Starting with a precise definition, along with clear business goals, is essential.

Join & Write a Comment

Suggested Solutions

This solves the problem of diagnosing why an internet connection is no longer working. It also helps identify the likely cause of the lost connection if the procedure fails to re-establish your internet connection. It helps to pinpoint the likely co…
Cable Modem Provisioning from DPoE compliant server  This Article is to support CMTS administrators to provide an overview of DOCSIS compliance configuration file, and to provision a cable modem located at customer place from a Back office serve…
It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.
This tutorial demonstrates a quick way of adding group price to multiple Magento products.

707 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question

Need Help in Real-Time?

Connect with top rated Experts

13 Experts available now in Live!

Get 1:1 Help Now