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Cable vs. DSL.

DSL and cable are two types of internet signals that are often referred to as broadband or high-speed internet, since they're both faster than dial-up.

What is DSL?

DSL (Digital Subscriber Link) uses your phone line to provide internet service. Don't confuse this with dial-up; DSL is much faster and won't tie up a phone line while you're using the internet.

Your computer might already have an internal modem (called a voiceband modem) that you can "dial-in" through your telephone landline. Otherwise, you'll need to purchase an external modem. These usually connect to your USB port, and some service providers offer modems at no charge or rolled into your subscription plan.


  • Faster speed than dial-up.
  • The internet and your phone line are accessible at the same time.
  • Variety in connection speeds and pricing from various providers.
  • Even more secure and reliable than cable.


  • Data is received faster than it sends.
  • Might not be available in remote areas.
  • The farther you are from the provider's central location, the slower the data speed.

What is cable?

A cable modem transmits digital data over existing cable television lines. Typically, your service provider will supply you with a modem that you rent as a part of your plan, though you can purchase your own modem to reduce your monthly service bill. This modem connects to a coaxial cable jack in your home and converts the signal into one your devices can use to send and receive data.

You share the available bandwidth of a single cable line with others in your neighborhood. The more people using it at the same time, the slower the performance.


  • Performance/speed isn't based on distance from the provider's central location.
  • Faster speed than dial-up.
  • Often faster than DSL.


  • Since you share bandwidth with others in your neighborhood, you might experience slowdown during peak hours.
  • Often more costly than DSL.
  • Might not be available in remote areas.

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