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Cable vs DSL

Cable vs DSL

While the computer industry continues to grow, the need for higher speed internet access increases. Games and digital media both have the capability to be played over the internet. To perform decently, a higher speed internet connection is needed. Two types of high speed internet connections available to home users are cable modems and a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL). Cable modems run off of the pre-existing coaxial cable that is already wired in most homes for TV. DSL transfers data through existing phone lines and does not tie up the telephone line used for talking. They both are a lot faster than normal phone lines, but there are many variables to each that determine which may be better. These consist of the speed and reliability, the price for the setup and service, and the availability of the service.

Cable modem service is a reasonable choice for a high speed internet connection. This service is usually controlled by the local cable company that runs the cable TV service. In Frederick, Adelphia is the company that distributes this service. The speed of an internet service is measured by how many bits per second it can transfer over the connection to the provider. Normal measurements are either in kilobits per second (kbps) or Megabits per second (Mbps). A kilobit means one thousand bits and a mega bit means one million. Cable modem speeds can range from 512 kbps to two Mbps download and 128 to 384 kbps upload. Customers using cable modems in the same area, usually share the same line the data travels through to the service provider. When there are many customers in the area that use the cable modem service, it can impact the performance of the cable modem. The transfer rates may fluctuate between 256 kbps to two Mbps. The price of the service can be pretty reasonable too. The average price per month for the service is $30.00 to $50.00. The most expensive part about getting a cable modem is the cost to getting setup. The cable company charges a setup fee which is usually around $75.00. Customers are also required to buy a network card for $40.00 and a cable modem which can cost up to $300.00. The total setup cost for the cable modem service adds up to $415.00. The availability may also reflect the decision on getting cable service. In most cities, one company usually holds a monopoly over all cable service. They can control which areas of the city can get the service and which cannot. If the cable company decides not to offer service in one area, then it is not possible to have a cable modem there. The cable company in Frederick, known as Adelphia, has chosen not to make cable modem service available in Frederick city. However, it is available in less populated areas of Frederick County.

The other type of high speed internet service available to home users is DSL. There are a couple types of DSL which all have different speeds. There is ADSL which has anywhere from 384 kbps to nine Mbps download rates and a 128 kbps upload rate. This is the most common and least expensive type of DSL. It is the best choice for home users where downloading files is more important than sending files. There is also SDSL which holds a 1.5 Mbps download and upload data transfer rate. This is ideal for businesses that will have users sharing the internet connection. DSL speeds cannot be affected by other customers in the area because it is a direct line to the central office. The line is not being shared with other nearby customers. The main issue that affects the speed of DSL is the distance from the central office switches. The speed of the connection will be really fast if the computer is only a short distance from the central office. Unfortunately, the transfer rates can degrade over longer distances. Line interference called Electromagnetic Noise or “crosstalk” generated from other electronic devices interferes with DSL lines. This causes DSL to be incredibly slow over longer distances. DSL can also be pretty expensive. The service can cost from $40.00 to $80.00 per month for home users and $80.00 to $320.00 per month for businesses. There is also usually an expensive setup fee which can be $100.00 or more. A DSL modem and network card is also required which is an additional $200.00. The main disadvantage to DSL is its availability. Customers are required to be within a certain distance from the central office. This prevents people in rural areas from being able to buy it. A phone company can also choose to not activate it in a certain area. Verizon has all the wiring in Frederick County ready for DSL access, but there is a lack of competition and they will not offer the service.

Cable and DSL both have their advantages and disadvantages. Cable and DSL both have very high data transfer rates, but DSL has the potential to be much more stable than cable. The costs for cable and DSL are also very close. The customer with DSL will end up paying more monthly, but a customer with cable will pay more for the setup. If the cost of the service is a concern, cable may be a better choice for a longer length of service. Cable modems and DSL differ in availability. If a city has a well built cable company, then cable modem internet service is probably going to be available. DSL is a little more particular with its requirements for the service. If a person is looking for a decent fast internet connection and is looking for a lower price, then the cable service may be best for that person. If a stable internet connection is more important, particularly for online gaming or a business, then DSL may be the better choice.


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