Cable Internet Speed vs. DSL Speed


Cable Internet, as the name suggests, uses cable lines, or coaxial wiring used to broadcast cable TV service, to transmit data to the user. DSL service uses the customers phone lines to transmit data. In both cases, a cable or DSL modem is required and both services offer their own download and upload speeds for data use.

Cable Modem Download Speeds

  • Cable modem speeds will differ depending on the service. Some carriers even offer different speed packages. For comparison purposes, Mediacom offers a standard 12MB/s speed with options available up to 20MB/s. Comcast also offers speeds up to 12MB/s for download purposes. 12MB/s is a fairly standard Cable download speed. Speeds of 4MB/s to 20MB/s are used by most cable Internet service providers.

DSL Download Speed Examples

  • DSL is slower than cable modem speeds. AT&T Wireless, a leading DSL provider, currently offers download speeds up to 6MB for its top packages, with standard packages beginning at 768 Kbps. A standard speed of 768 Kbps to 7 Mbps should be expected for DSL service.

Cable Modem Upload Speeds

  • Upload speeds are considerably lower for cable modem service than download speeds. Mediacom offers maximum upload speeds of 1MB. Comcast upload speeds double the speed of Mediacom uploads to 2MB. Standard upload rates for cable modem service will range from 1MB to 2MB.

DSL Upload Speeds

  • Upstream capabilities are again slower on DSL services. AT&T offers a low end upload ceiling of 384 Kbps and an upper-end upstream of 768 Kbps. Typical upload speeds for DSL will not extend beyond 1MB on the high-end of services.

Factors That Can Affect Service Speed

  • DSL is affected by distance, DSL can extend up to 17,000 to 18,000 feet, however speed drop-offs are often experienced after 9,000 to 10,000 feet. Cable service can also be affected by the number of users sharing a cable connection. The more users who are logged on and using bandwidth at any given time can affect the speed of cable Internet service. Speed factors typically depend on the service and technology.

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