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DSL Vs. Broadband Vs. Fiber: What You Need to Know

What is broadband Internet? Should you get DSL, cable, or fiber optic Internet for your home?

Fast Internet is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity. However, finding the best broadband provider and fast Internet service that fits your needs (and budget) is not always easy.

Understanding the differences between broadband, DSL, Cable, Fiber, etc. is the first step. Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s much easier to select the best broadband provider for your needs and bypass the rest.

In this guide, we explore:

  • Broadband Internet Service — Understanding the Basics
  • Types Of Broadband Providers and Internet Services
  • What is DSL?
  • What is the Difference Between DSL and Cable Internet?
  • Cable vs Fiber
  • How to Find The Best Broadband Provider in Your Area

What is Broadband Internet Service?

“Broadband” is another way of saying high-speed Internet access (in comparison to dial-up speeds). Broadband Internet includes many kinds of technologies that help deliver fast Internet to a home or office. Services commonly offered by broadband providers include:

  • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Technology
  • Cable Internet Technology
  • Fiber Optic Internet Technology

The type of Internet connection offered by your ISP depends on where you live (i.e., countryside vs big city), availability in your specific location (ex. certain apartment complexes may not offer certain types of Internet services), and many other factors.

Continue reading to learn more about the differences between DSL vs Cable vs Fiber.

What is DSL Internet Service?

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) is a method of Internet service delivery that involves fast Internet transmission via pre-installed copper telephone lines.

While DSL does use a phone line to deliver faster Internet speeds, it uses a different frequency than your telephone. That means that you can use the Internet and talk on your landline simultaneously — unlike dial-up Internet.

Generally, DSL Internet service is faster than dial-up but considerably slower than cable Internet and fiber optic Internet.

How Many Mbps is DSL?

DSL download and upload speeds can vary depending on where you live and your broadband provider. Mbps speeds generally fall into the following ranges:

DSL Download Speeds: 1 – 35 Mbps depending on availability

DSL Upload Speeds: 1 – 10 Mbps

In limited cases, broadband providers offer faster forms of DSL Internet services with speeds up to 45 Mbps. However, it’s typically only available in select areas.

Pros And Cons of DSL Internet

DSL Internet was once an emerging technology. However, it has since been outperformed by cable and fiber optic fast Internet. While there are a few glaring disadvantages of DSL Internet, there are also a few advantages.

DSL Pros:

  • DSL Internet is available just about everywhere (including many rural areas)
  • It’s typically less expensive than other broadband options
  • You don't have to share bandwidth

DSL Cons:

  • Generally slower speeds than other broadband services
  • The greater distance you live from your ISP, the slower your Internet speed

What is the Difference Between DSL and Cable Internet Service?

Though most broadband providers offer DSL and cable Internet, the two services are vastly different. Cable Internet service allows broadband providers to deliver fast Internet speeds through the same cable wire as your TV.

In most cases, cable Internet is faster than DSL and more reliable.

So much so that a report from the Federal Communications Commission concluded that most broadband providers offering cable Internet and fiber optic often deliver fast Internet at or above the advertised speeds (unlike DSL providers).

How Many Mbps is Cable Internet?

Cable Internet download and upload speeds depend on your broadband service provider, location, and a few more factors. However, you can generally expect Internet speeds in the following ranges:

  • Cable Internet download speeds: 30 – 300 Mbps, depending on package and location
  • Cable Internet upload speeds: 3 – 30 Mbps

Some broadband providers offer cable Internet that surpasses the suggested ranges listed above. However, availability is limited, and it can be expensive.

Pros And Cons of Cable Internet

Cable Internet is among the most popular services offered by broadband Internet providers, especially in urban areas. A few advantages and disadvantages of cable Internet service include:

Cable Internet Pros:

  • Much faster than DSL
  • It doesn’t require a landline

Cable Internet Cons:

  • Internet speeds may decrease during peak hours
  • Connection fees are generally higher
  • Usually more costly than DSL Internet service
  • Limited availability in rural areas

Cable Vs Fiber — What is Fiber Optic Internet?

Fiber optic Internet service isn’t just fast Internet — in most cases, it’s the fastest.

Certain cable Internet providers can compete with lower-tier fiber optic plans on download speeds. However, no broadband service comes close to the upload speeds offered by fiber optic Internet. Learn more below.

How Many Mbps is Fiber Optic Internet?

Broadband providers offering fiber optic cable usually have multiple speed tiers. Exact download and upload speeds depend on the ISP, your location, and your fiber optic Internet plan. Generally, you can expect the following fast Internet speeds with fiber:

  • Fiber Optic Internet Download Speeds: 50 – 500+ Mbps
  • Fiber Optic Internet Upload Speeds: 10 – 200+ Mbps

Fiber optic upload and download speeds can vary greatly depending on the broadband provider, your location, and the plan you select. Continue reading to learn about the pros and cons of fiber-optic Internet.

Pros and Cons of Fiber Optic Internet

Fiber optic Internet is still a fairly new technology. While it does offer the fastest Internet (in most cases), there are still a few drawbacks to be aware of, including:

Fiber Optic Internet Pros:

  • Usually a better connection than DSL or cable Internet
  • Faster speeds mean higher quality streaming

Fiber Optic Internet Cons:

  • Limited availability
  • Typically more costly than other Internet services

DSL vs Cable vs Fiber — Which Type of Internet Connection is Fastest?

Fiber optic Internet typically offers the fastest Internet speeds. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s the best option when choosing between DSL vs Cable vs fiber optic. The best Internet service to fit your needs depends on:

  • How much you use the Internet and for what purposes (i.e., movies, work, video conferences, etc.)
  • How many people use the Internet at your residence
  • Where you live and the broadband services offered in your area
  • Your budget

Are you interested in fast Internet service but unsure of what broadband providers offer the best deal? SmartMove can connect you to the best Internet and TV providers near you.

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