DSL Vs Cable Vs Fiber

The landscape of the internet industry is ever changing and constantly improving. The Internet can be delivered to devices using radio waves, phone lines, cable lines, electrical wiring in homes, and even via a satellite dish atop your roof. In this day and age, most of the data uploaded and downloaded are done using either DSL, Cable, or Fiber internet. These 3 are the most common type of internet connection and in this article, we will compare DSL vs. Cable vs. Fiber.  

DSL vs. Cable vs. Fiber Overview

Fiber internet connection offers the best download and upload speeds out of all three internet connections. Fiber speeds range between 50 Mbps – 2,000 Mbps. Cable and DSL internet deliver internet download speeds between 25-500 Mbps range. However, cable and DSL internet offers slower upload speeds, they range about 5-30 Mbps. Fiber may be a bit expensive than other options but its price is justified in the type of service offered by them.  

Internet TypeDownload Speed RangeUpload Speed Range
DSL5-35 Mbps1-10 Mbps
Cable10-500 Mbps5-50 Mbps
Fiber100-2,000 Mbps100-1,000 Mbps

DSL vs. Cable 

The choice between DSL and cable internet is pretty common in the US, as most homes are wired for both connections. DSL is lower-bandwidth and provides internet over phone lines and the speeds don’t usually go over 100 Mbps. In urban areas, DSL may end up offering better speeds due to different technology. The cable is a better option in the choice between DSL vs. Cable. A cable internet connection offers better speeds, better connectivity, and reliability. In some cases, cable internet may even cost less than DSL.

Cable vs. Fiber 

Fiber is without a doubt, a better connection than all other options available in the market. In large cities, fiber internet service is the best choice for consumers as it provides high-speed bandwidth. The primary difference between cable and fiber internet is that cable internet is sent over copper cable lines. These copper cables ideally aren’t made to carry internet signals. Fiber cables are made up of fiber and glass mesh and they are specifically designed to carry internet signals. 

DSL vs. Cable vs. Fiber: Speed Comparison 

To help understanding “which internet connection is best?” you need to understand what speeds are offered by internet services. Here’s a thorough breakdown of the internet speeds offered by these connections.

  • DSL Internet Overview 

Digital subscriber line (DSL) offers download speeds between 5-35Mbps and upload speeds between 1-10 Mbps. DSL internet service is provided by phone companies like AT&T Internet and CenturyLink, most of the time DSL is bundled with phone service to save money. In rural areas, DSL internet is often the only wired internet connection option available. Here are all the factors that make DSL internet identifiable.  

  • DSL delivers internet over copper phone lines.
  • DSL has 90% coverage nationwide.
  • DSL has higher latency & lower bandwidth than cable.
  • DSL speeds vary on your distance between you and your provider.
  • Cable Internet Overview 

Cable download speeds offer download speeds around 10-500 Mbps and upload speeds are between 5-50 Mbps. Some providers offer more in selected areas, but using WiFi service will slow down your speeds.   

The cable isn’t as fast as fiber internet, and the speed will sometimes slow down during “peak use” times. So you will experience a 20% slowdown in internet speed during peak time. Companies like Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox offer low-cost “bundles plans” for customers that subscribe to both TV and Internet service. Here are some distinguishable factors about Cable internet.     

  • Delivers internet via copper coaxial television cable.
  • 89% coverage nationwide. 
  • Bandwidth is usually shared with people living in the same area. 
  • Speed often slows 20-40% during the evening or peak hours. 
  • Higher speed and latency than DSL internet.
  • Fiber Internet Overview

Fiber internet download speeds can reach up to 1,000 Mbps. Unlike cable and DSL, fiber providers usually offer “symmetrical service” which means equal download and upload. Fiber internet technology is mostly new in the market and it is offered by top internet like Verizon FiOS and Google Fiber. While the price is usually higher than cable and DSL internet, but the cost is worth the service.  

The high speeds make streaming high definition video on multiple devices hassle proof. Another great thing about fiber internet in comparison to DSL or cable is that it doesn’t slow down regardless of the hour of usage.   

  • Delivers internet via fiber-optic cables. 
  • 25% coverage nationwide. 
  • Reliable and future proof technology. 
  • Speeds unaffected by distance from ISP.