broadbandToday, everybody wants lightening fast Internet service for as little as possible, but with so many companies vying for your business, how do you know which choice is ultimately the best decision for your needs? Cable or DSL?

Both Internet services are available in most areas and both cost relatively the same amount each month, depending on where you live. What makes one better than the other?

Cable

Advantages:

  • Faster Speeds -Cable is faster than DSL in most cases. Why? It’s mostly a technical issue. Cable systems run over something called a coaxial cable while DSL runs over the copper telephone wires already installed in your home. Coaxial cable has a higher bandwidth threshold – meaning it can carry more data at the same time. Think of the difference between a 2 lane road and a 6 lane highway? Which can handle more cars? The highway, right? But, if you’ve ever been stuck in highway traffic, you know that even highways can backup. So, you may experience slow downs on occasion, but overall, your cable speed should be blazing fast.
  • Contract Length – None. Cable is connected and billed monthly. You are not bound by an agreement and normally do not incur additional costs or penalties to terminate your service, regardless of how long you’ve had it. As each cable company’s policy may differ, it is advisable to read and understand the terms of service before signing up.
  • Federal Taxes – On cable service federal taxes do not apply. With DSL, taxes are applicable since it is considered a service within the telephone company. This could change in the future but as of now Uncle Sam doesn’t get involved with taxing cable service.

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Disadvantages:

  • Shared Lines – Cable operates on shared lines which means that speeds could slow down as your neighbors access the Internet. However, you probably won’t notice this effect. That’s because cable companies have ways of guaranteeing you a certain amount of bandwidth no matter what. Also, most neighborhoods have more than enough bandwidth available for everyone. Remember, you get TV shows over the same cable line. Do they ever stutter or slow down? They don’t, do they. Your high-speed internet connection shouldn’t either.
  • Cost – Cable Internet access usually has a higher monthly price than DSL. But, if you look at the monthly cost divided by the amount of bandwidth available, you’ll find the cost per Mb of bandwidth is right in line with DSL.

DSL

Advantages:

  • Already Wired – DSL runs over the same copper wire that carries your telephone conversations. That means you can hook up your DSL access anywhere you see a phone jack.
  • Cost – In many parts of the country, DSL service costs are considerably less than cable. Rates can range from as little as $15 per month.

Disadvantages:

  • Distance Dependent – DSL service is only as good as your proximity to the local carrier. If you live too far, your service will suffer and speeds will be impacted.
  • Contract Required – Most DSL service come with a 12-month contractual agreement. Early termination or changes to service may incur stiff penalties. Find out in advance the exact terms of the contract before making your final decision.

Although these are the two primary choices for internet service, there are other options including satellite and cellular service as well as WiFi in most metropolitan areas. Check all the options available to you before making any decisions. Cutting edge technologies can also provide cutting edge problems, so be careful of anything yet untested or brand new.

Regardless of whether you choose DSL or Cable for your Internet connection, you will experience tremendous improvements over the traditional telephone dial-up modem. Carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both and ask yourself exactly what you need to stay connected to the Web. Your final decision should be deliberate and without regrets!

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