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Cable modem vs DSL Pro

What is the difference between a cable modem and dsl pro.  Which is faster?  Which is better?
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drfoxs13
Asked:
drfoxs13
1 Solution
 
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Depends on who's offering the services.  Cable can be slower than DSL or faster. With DSL you MUST be within 4 miles of a CO (Phone company networking location) or DSL won't work - and to get TOP DSL speeds, you need to be within 1-2 miles.  I know people who can only get cable at 2Mbits.  My cable company offers 30Mbits.  DSL MAXIMUM, if you are within range AND your DSL provider offers it, maximum is a little over 7Mbits - of course, they don't give you 7Mbits without paying more - typical DSL speeds are between 768Kbits (.75 Mbits), and 3Mbits.
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ElrondCTCommented:
The other difference, which makes it impossible to directly compare speeds, is that with DSL, you have a dedicated connection to the central office, so the maximum quoted is essentially always available to you. With cable, you're sharing a connection with others in your neighborhood (there's no easy way to find out exactly how large the "neighborhood" is--it could be a block of a street, or it could be a larger area). So if your next-door neighbor has a kid who loves to download music, your speed will be adversely affected, because you're sharing bandwidth with him. Note also that both types of services have much slower upload speeds than download. This becomes most significant if you're thinking about connecting up a web server, or if you're a graphic designer who needs to upload big graphics files. Companies bury upload speed information; if that's important to you, you'll need to dig.

That said, the need for speed is for most people overrated. Speed matters if you do lots of downloading (music, pictures, etc.), at top fidelity--listening to music streams online doesn't need much speed. It also matters if you like to play online games. But for ordinary web browsing, email, and the like, most people won't notice any difference between cable and DSL, as long as you're getting at least 1.5Mpbs. (768K is more likely to be a noticeable slowdown.) It's sort of like buying a Porsche to pick up your groceries; sure, you'll look good doing it, but you're not really using the power that's there.

Currently in most places in the US where both services are available, DSL is priced cheaper; it's now reaching the point where it's almost no extra cost once you count in the fact that you then don't need a separate ISP account with AOL, Earthlink, or whoever. (If you've currently got a phone line dedicated to your computer, moving to broadband will almost always save you money, because you can shut the extra phone line down.) Quality of service varies by provider, though my experience is that DSL is slightly more prone to interruption. But we're talking on the order of perhaps once a month for a few minutes, vs. perhaps every other month for cable, and even that may be overstating it; I think it's gotten better over the last couple of years (I was an early adopter of DSL back in 1999). So that's more of an annoyance than a major problem IMHO. If you use a router for the connection, it'll automatically re-establish the connection and you'll likely never notice unless you happen to be on the computer right at that time.
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Computerguy107Commented:
For the home user cable is better because you can get rid of your phone line and use a voip service for your phone. I have used both and find cable faster. Cable does cost a bit more but it is worth it.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Computerguy - you need to keep in mind geography and the services offered.  Your cable provider might have significantly better service or significantly worse service than the provider of cable service two states away.
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ElrondCTCommented:
If you want to switch to VOIP as a replacement for your landline, then I agree that cable makes sense. But I find that VOIP quality and reliability aren't the same level as landline; I have each (actually two landlines and one VOIP, because of the combination of business and personal needs I have). If you do go with VOIP as your only phone service, I strongly advise getting a battery backup for your cable modem and VOIP connector (and phone, if it's cordless), so you don't lose your phone service in a power outage. (A $50 battery backup will run a cable modem and router for several hours.)
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pseudocyberCommented:
Guys, all good answers, but not enough points to split.  So, I had to go with the first correct post.  :)
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ElrondCTCommented:
Let's arm-wrestle for the points! 8-)
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