Choosing between internet options is an important decision. But it can also often be very difficult. Should you choose Frontier’s blazing-fast fiber? Would Spectrum internet service be a better deal? Or should you go with readily available DSL services? Fiber, cable, and DSL are three very common types of internet services in many parts of the United States. This blog explores how they compare to each other.
DSL Internet is The Most Available
Digital Subscriber Line internet or DSL is one of the earliest forms of internet connectivity. DSL service uses the same copper line as your telephone. It transmits information from your computer to your internet provider using a DSL modem. DSL speeds depend on how close you are to your provider’s network center. That means the further away you are, the slower your speeds will be.
Over the years, DSL providers have improved their infrastructure to offer faster speeds. Certain high-speed DSL services offer speeds of up to 140 Mbps. But for the most part, average speeds remain around 25 Mbps or less. DSL internet tends to have faster download speeds as compared to upload speeds. This makes it suitable for most everyday activities other than uploading large videos, high-res images, and large files.
As compared to fiber internet, DSL is has a much larger coverage in the US. However, certain states like Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut have no DSL coverage at all. That being said, DSL remains a more available option compared to other internet services. Unfortunately, low bandwidth and inconsistent speeds should make it your least desirable option.
Fiber Internet Offers the Best Speeds
Fiber-optic internet is the most advanced form of internet service we know today. Instead of using wires or cables to transmit data, fiber-optic internet uses glass or plastic fibers. Unlike cable or DSL internet, fiber internet transmits data in the form of light signals. Since light travels faster than anything else, this allows fiber internet providers to offer blazing fast internet speeds of up to 1 Gbps. That’s 1,000 Mbps!
That’s not all. Fiber-optic internet offers symmetric upload and download speeds. That means your upload and download speeds are the same. Fiber-optic internet offers the best internet experience thanks to more than enough bandwidth and speed. But there are also other considerations. Fiber internet users do not experience slow speeds during peak hours. This is because fiber uses a dedicated connection to your home, instead of a shared connection with your neighborhood or building.
All of these factors make fiber internet an obviously superior choice. So why don’t more people use it instead of DSL or cable? The problem is that fiber internet is not available everywhere. Rather, you only find it in very select markets. This is because the fiber-optic infrastructure is costly, and providers see more value in investing in large population centers. You will likely not have fiber internet as an option in small towns or rural areas. At the same time, fiber internet also tends to be pricier than both DSL and cable. However, if you find yourself in a fiber coverage area, your choice should be clear.
Cable Internet Offers Value
Cable internet is different from both fiber and cable internet. It does not use fiber-optic cables, but it also doesn’t use your telephone line. Cable internet makes use of the same coaxial cable as your cable service to deliver internet access to a modem. However, it does not interfere with your internet/TV experience when using both services. Cable internet is usually more accessible and affordable than fiber internet. At the same time, it is also a lot faster than DSL. Cable internet speeds can reach up to 500 Mbps, depending on where you live.
Cable internet is perhaps the most accessible service in the United States. A vast majority of states have access to cable internet speeds starting at 100 Mbps. Thanks to sufficient bandwidth and speeds, cable internet remains a popular choice with most households. It offers faster and more consistent speeds than DSL. But at the same time, outages are not unheard of.
Cable providers also often place limits on the data you can consume during a month. Be careful to stay below this limit. Otherwise, you may find yourself paying expensive overages. Cable internet speeds are susceptible to slowdowns during peak hours. However, it is still one of the most affordable and widely available options. If fiber isn’t an option (as is usually the case), then cable internet offers the best value.
The Bottom Line
Your choice of internet service and provider ultimately depends on what is available. In city centers like San Francisco and New York, you may be more likely to find fiber internet providers. If that is the case, always go for fiber for the best experience. However, if fiber isn’t an option near you, or if it is too expensive, then cable internet should meet your needs. It is both affordable and has a very large coverage. If cable internet providers in your area are not up to the mark, then you may have to look at DSL as an option. But hopefully, it shouldn’t come to that.