What is the one thing that you absolutely can’t do without in today’s age? You guessed it right, we are talking about the internet. Be it forwarding or receiving emails, attending zoom meetings, watching Netflix, or playing online games, the internet has truly become an indispensable part of our lives.

You have to take care of a variety of tasks when you move to a new place. But the most important task out of all is setting up an internet connection in your new home. Having a slow internet is painful, it is like watching a snail compete in a horse race. In this case, choosing the right internet connection is the solution to your problems.

You will come across two kinds of internet connections: DSL and Cable whenever you are looking for a new internet provider. There is a possibility that you might get confused while choosing one of them. Which internet connection is the right one for you? Let us help you find out!

DSL vs Cable Internet: What the Difference Between Them?

DSL and Cable internet are essentially two different types of connections through which you get internet services. DSL stands for Digital Subscriber line. Although most of us don’t use landline phones now, DSL uses the copper wiring of the landline phone systems that already run to your house. Using DSL is rather old-school; however, it is available almost anywhere.

On the other hand, a cable company lays out coaxial wiring through which Cable internet operates. Cable internet tends to have higher speeds and you will get a better deal if you also opt to get TV services and mobile plans through the same cable company. Cable internet is available in most of the areas that support cable TV.

Availability: DSL vs Cable Internet

There is almost no difference between the two services when it comes to their availability. The internet is something that everyone needs and this has resulted in the wide availability of both DSL and cable internet connections. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found out that nearly 90% of Americans have access to at least one DSL provider and one Cable internet provider. These connections are accessible to the majority of the rural areas as well.

However, you should know that finding a high-speed cable internet connection is much easier than finding a high-speed DSL connection. About 37% of the Americans will find DSL internet with a speed of 25 Mbps, but most of them will find a cable internet connection that provides them with internet with a speed of 250 Mbps. You will also be able to find a cable connection with gigabit speeds but it is not that easy to find.

Although you can have a choice between one DSL provider and one cable provider irrespective of where you stay, there is a high chance that there won’t be multiple providers (DSL or Cable) to choose from in one single area.

Also Read: Cable vs Satellite TV – Pros and Cons

Downloading Speeds: DSL vs Cable Internet

The decision of choosing a particular type of internet connection ultimately boils down to one thing i.e., how speedy you need your internet to be! The DSL tends to be super reliable and gives you great internet speed, but there is a limit to how speedy the DSL internet can be. On the other hand, Cable internet shines when it comes to internet speeds.

A lot of us don’t understand much about all this intense tech stuff because of which deciding on the speed of the internet you need in your house becomes a difficult job. Ideally, you don’t want to pay a lot of money and purchase a speedier pack, when in reality you just need the internet for measly things like Facebook. At the same time, you do not want to get stuck with a plan with lower bandwidth that is not able to support any of your applications and devices. Before looking into what the DSL and Cable internet have to offer, let us first look into what you can do with specific internet downloading speeds.

  • 1,000 Mbps/1 Gbps: There is no limit to what you can do with this kind of speed. You can rest assured that you will face no buffering or delays when you are online with this speedy plan.
  • 500 Mbps: This speed can be used to operate various smart-home devices at the same time, downloading numerous large files at the same time, and streaming videos in 4k on 10 different devices at the same time.
  • 100 Mbps: This speed can allow 10 people (10 devices) to play online games at ones and one can also operate smart-home security cameras in HD quality.
  • 50 Mbps: With this speed, one can play online games along with 2-5 players, videos can be streamed in 4k on a maximum of 3 devices and Zoom meetings with a large group of people can be hosted as well.
  • 25 Mbps: With this speed, one can play online games with around 2 players, download large files, and host Zoom Meetings as well.
  • 5-10 Mbps: This speed allows one to browse on the web, check their emails, and stream videos in SD on 2 different devices.

Based on the above explanations, you can now easily choose a plan for yourself. You first need to know what the DSL and Cable Internet providers have to offer before you make any choices. Let us walk you through how speedy your internet can get if you choose either DSL or Cable internet.


The DSL is like the turtle from that children’s story. You know that it’s going to reach the finish line, but it will take its own sweet time and perhaps even win in some situations. The internet speed you get completely depends on what DSL plans you purchase. The fastest DSL plans assure you a speed of 100 Mbps and the cheapest ones give you a speed of 5 Mbps.

100 Mbps is a great speed to have (much faster than a turtle actually) and is sufficient for most internet users. A household that has 2-3 individuals who need the internet for streaming HD video, using social media, and using e-mail services ideally needs a speed of only 25 Mbps. So, DSL is certainly a good choice for most of you.

The only thing you need to be concerned about is that the connection slows down the farther you move away from the internet service provider. The strength of the internet that is carried through the wires lessens over long distances. Because of this, it is advisable to purchase a DSL connection only if you stay near the internet service provider. Staying near the ISP guarantees a speedy connection.

Cable Internet:

If the DSL is a turtle, the Cable internet is like a rabbit. It is the speedier animal in the race. The internet speeds offered by a cable company will range between 25 Mbps – 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps). Cable companies also offer gigabit modems that offer internet plans with a download speed that range between 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps, but the higher speeds aren’t available yet for residential internet plans.

You might need higher downloading speeds when you stay in a large household with a lot of people. People who are into online gaming or content creation can benefit a lot from the Cable internet plans. The mid-range speed plans (100 – 500 Mbps) can also be used in homes that need the internet to run their smart-home security cameras.

Uploading Speeds: DSL vs Cable Internet

Today, you might want to download an entire season of Friends, but tomorrow you might want to upload some large files or a big video on the internet. Being online is not only about downloading data, you also need to upload your data to the internet time and again. For this, you need a provider which provides you with great upload speed as well.

To upload anything to the internet, a speed of 5 Mbps tends to be enough for most of the users. DSL and Cable internet both do not offer symmetrical downloading and uploading speeds. This means that the uploading speed offered by them is much lesser than the downloading speed.

DSL will provide you with an uploading speed in the range of 1-10 Mbps. On the other hand, Cable internet provides one with the uploading speed of 5-50 Mbps. You can choose the right provider and plan for yourself based on what exactly you need to upload. Uploading your pictures on Instagram doesn’t require as much speed. On the contrary, uploading a 3-hour Zoom meeting to your drive needs speedy internet.

Who is the Winner?

When it comes to speed, be it downloading speed or uploading speed; Cable internet is a clear winner for us. The speeds offered by the Cable internet tend to be almost 10 times faster than those offered by the DSL. To add to that, these speedy plans are available at affordable rates as well. Not only that, but the Cable Internet is also capable of hitting the gigabit speed. When speed is all you want, Cable Internet is what you should purchase.

Pro Tip: Many people need their uploading speeds to be as fast as their downloading speeds. If you are one of them, you can always choose to go for fiber internet. This connection operates on fiberglass cabling and gives you a speed of about 1,000 Mbps or more. But unfortunately, fiber internet is not available everywhere. To add to that, the cost of fiber internet packages surpasses DSL and cable internet package costs.

How Much Does it Cost: DSL vs Cable Internet

There is hardly any difference in the pricing of the plans when you compare these two types of connections. The thumb rule here is that the speedier your internet is, the more you pay. Let us look at how the DSL and Cable Internet services are priced and which one offers better deals for you.


If you are someone who hates price hikes and appreciates straightforward pricing and fixed rates, the DSL has been made for people like you. The speeds offered by the DSL are enough for an average household. After all, you don’t need gigabit speeds when you have three people in the house who use the internet for Facebook and Zoom Meetings. The plans offered by DSL are thus reasonably priced as well.

You can expect to spend an average amount of $45 on a DSL plan. The price of DSL internet can range between $27.99–69.95 per month. You will get downloading speeds of 5-100 Mbps according to what you pay. To add to that, their uploading speeds can range between 1-30 Mbps.

You can avail of numerous great deals when you purchase a DSL connection. You always have the flexibility of canceling and switching your internet providers without any hassle, because DSL allows you to go for a no-contract option. Similarly, you won’t experience any price hikes with DSL. In fact, DSL providers often provide you with a plan with a fixed price for life. Isn’t that great?

Cable Internet:

You might feel that the Cable internet plans might be better for you because they offer speedier packs. There are several Cable Internet plans available for you. Not only this, but you can also very easily score bundle deals with cable internet providers. This means that you can get discounted rates if you purchase TV, home phone, and internet services together from the same place. To add to that, you can also take advantage of the promotional prices offered by Cable internet providers.

An average Cable internet plan will cost you about $50 a month. You can expect to pay in the range of $19.99–$109.99 per month depending on how speedy you want your internet to be. You will get a downloading speed of 10 -1,000 Mbps and an uploading speed of 1-50 Mbps according to the plan that you purchase.

If you need internet with lightning speed, Cable internet might be the way to go. However, you have to be very cautious about reading the full terms and conditions of your cable package. These packages often have a very low introductory rate. You often get internet services at a promotional rate at the very beginning. But once this promotional period ends, there will be a price hike and you will be asked to pay an elevated rate for the services.

Which One is the Winner?

It is quite hard to declare one particular internet connection as the winner because the cost of a plan will differ according to your personal needs. If you stay in a small household of 2-3 people who need moderately speedy packages, DSL packages would make sense for you.

On the other hand, if you need a very speedy internet or you stay in a large house and use devices that need speedy internet, Cable Internet Packages would work out better for you. The ISP that provides you with more speed at a lesser price will always be the better option.

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What About the Additional Costs?

Apart from the internet package, be ready to spend a little bit extra at the very beginning because you will incur some additional expenditure. What are these things you will have to spend extra money on? Let us find out!

Cost of the Equipment

In order to get the internet to your house, you will need either a router or a modem installed in your house. Don’t forget that you do not have to buy new equipment necessarily every time you move. Your internet provider will let you rent a gateway (which is a combination of a modem and router) at really affordable monthly rates (starting at $10/month).

Most of the providers will add this additional rental amount to your final internet bill. If renting equipment doesn’t fit within your plans, you can always choose to buy new equipment.

Cost of Installation

You can choose to install the DSL or the cable internet either by yourself or get a professional to do it. Installing it by yourself will save you some costs, but not everyone knows how to do it. On the contrary, if you ask a professional to do it, you will certainly be charged somewhere between $50-$100.

Pro tip: DSL and Cable internet providers attract more customers by offering discounts and waiving some amount of the final bill. When you purchase a plan, don’t forget to ask for either a free installation, free modem/router, or a Visa gift card. Chances are that you will get one of these things for free. You can also score a better deal for yourself by purchasing other services (TV, phone package, etc.) along with your internet package.

Best Internet Service Providers: DSL vs Cable Internet

Each internet service provider has something different to offer. Some of them offer low rates, some of them offer several discounts, while some offer great customer service. On the contrary, there are a few service providers that offer the best overall services to their customers, as stated by HighSpeedInternet.com’s 2020 customer satisfaction survey’. Want to find out your choices? Read on and choose for yourself.


Service Provider (DSL + Fiber)SpeedCost Per MonthCustomer Rating
Earth Link3–45 Mbps                 $49.95 – $69.954.01/5
WindstreamUp to 500 Mbps                       $37.00 (starting price)3.88/5
At&T100 – 1,000 Mbps$35 – $603.83/5
Century Link15–100 Mbps             $49‡3.79/5
Frontier6–115 Mbps   $27.99 – $44.993.77/5

Cable Internet:

Service Provider (Cable)SpeedCost Per MonthCustomer Rating
Xfinity           15 – 1,000 Mbps/1 (Gbps)$19.99–$84.993.88/5
Spectrum100–940 Mbps                       $49.99–$109.993.81/5
Cox10–1,000 Mbps                       $29.99–$99.993.60/5

Reasons to Choose DSL

● DSL is widely available throughout the nation. About 90% of the American have access to at least one DSL service provider.
● DSL internet is available at very budget-friendly prices.
● The DSL internet continues to work in a blackout. As long as you have batteries in your router/modem, you don’t have to worry about having no internet during electrical outages.
● DSL service providers offer straightforward pricing and price hikes rarely occur.

Things to Consider before Choosing DSL

● The speed limit of DSL internet is very low as compared to Cable internet.
● The DSL speed-strength lessens if your house is not near the service provider.
● The copper wires used by DSL are highly prone to corrosion because of which customers may experience service outages.

Reasons to Choose Cable Internet

● Cable internet is always on-connection, it rarely experiences service outages.
● This connection offers faster speeds as compared to DSL or dial-up connections.
● Cable is a favorable choice for those who indulge in data-heavy online activities like gaming, video streaming, or operating smart-home security systems.
● There are a lot of options available in cable internet packages.

Things to Consider Before Choosing Cable Internet

● You will realize that your internet speed reduces during peak hours (when everyone uses the internet) as the neighborhoods share bandwidth.
● Cable internet is not available everywhere, especially in rural areas.
● The installation cost and monthly rates for cable internet are expensive. Providers charge hidden fees and you may also regularly experience price hikes.

What Service is Right for You?

What service is right for you or which internet connection you should go for solely depends on your unique needs. You need to first determine which service providers are available in your area. If you live in a large house or if you need the internet for data-intensive work, maybe cable internet is a good option.

On the other hand, if you stay in a small household with limited data needs, DSL will be the cheaper and the better option. If you ask us, we would recommend evaluating your own needs before choosing an internet service provider.

Read Also: How To Move With Your Existing Internet Service

Frequently Asked Questions

Is DSL faster than cable?

The downloading speed range offered by DSL is lower than that of cable. Cable offers a downloading speed in the range of 25-1000 Mbps. Meanwhile, DSL offers downloading speed in the range of 25-100 Mbps.

Is DSL fast enough for Netflix?

If you want to stream videos on Netflix, you will need to have internet with a minimum speed of 0.5-1.5 Mbps. According to these speed requirements, a DSL connection is certainly fast enough to stream movies and shows on Netflix in good quality.

Is Cable or DSL internet better?

Cable is much faster and more reliable than DSL but also costs a little bit more. It provides download speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, whereas the maximum speed for standard DSL ranges from 10-20Mbps. Prices depend on your service provider and range between $10-$100 per month depending on plan details like data caps and bandwidth usage limits.

Is DSL considered high-speed Internet?

DSL service is high-speed Internet that uses a phone line to deliver fast speeds. While not all ISPs offer such high speeds as 12 Mbps and 45 Mbps, many providers do so with DSL services! You can use both your DSL connection and home phone simultaneously, unlike dial-up, which only allows for one or the other.

Why is DSL internet so bad?

DSL internet is terrible because the infrastructure isn’t as good, and it can only go up to 100 Mbps. Additionally, electrical signals degrade in quality over long distances.

Is DSL internet reliable?

DSL internet is just as reliable as a cable. Many people assume that DSL isn’t good because it’s slower, but both are very consistent in their connectivity speeds for the majority of the time.

Do you need a DSL cable for WIFI?

You will need a wireless router and an ISP that offers you the connection of your choices, such as Cable or DSL. A DSL cable is necessary for WIFI to work. This means that all devices are equipped with Wi-Fi adapters but cannot connect if an available source doesn’t already provide any Internet service.

Can I increase my DSL speed?

DSL speed can be limited by your router’s distance from you, walls, and windows between them, which may cause interference. You should reduce the number of devices that operate on a 2.4 GHz frequency band to maximize DSL Speed, such as putting it in ‘Airplane Mode.

Can I have both DSL and cable Internet?

You can have both DSL and cable internet. However, the new company may need to do something extra if they want you to use their cables because your existing ISP also uses them.

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