If you are still using dial-up, you have probably gotten either the “You don’t use DSL yet?” or the “You don’t use cable yet?” expressions of credulity. So you’ve decided that it’s probably time to get off of dial-up – yet, the question remains: which is better, DSL or cable? There are advertisements arguing the perks of both, but which will really get you more bang for your buck?
The three issues to take into account when comparing DSL and cable Internet connection are speed, customer satisfaction and security.
Theoretically, cable modems run faster than DSL because they offer more bandwith. There is also a form of DSL called VDSL which can match the speed of a cable modem. However, the speed of cable is relative to the number of people in your area who are accessing the neighborhood at the same time. One popular commercial compares cable modems to drinking out of a straw – the straw is fine, if one person is drinking from it. But if the straw must be shared – well, obviously things slow down a little. Both DSL and cable also vary in speed by the minute depending on the congestion caused by multiple users.
Customer service surveys conducted by J.D. Power and Associates in 2004 showed that DSL had an edge over cable in customer satisfaction ratings. This survey looked at billing, the provider’s business image, cost and tech support, and email services. Earthlink and Verizon, both DSL, were the top two service providers rated in the survey.
Since cable modems necessitate the sharing of a cable line to provide service to the entire neighborhood, DSL is slightly more secure. However, cable modems are easier to install, and many sources believe that the difference in security is not significant enough to go through the trouble of installing DSL. Many cable customers avoid security problems by putting up firewalls in order to protect themselves, and their information.