What Is the Difference Between Cable and DSL Internet?

The primary differences between cable and DSL include price, speed and connection. DSL connections transmit digital data through a traditional telephone line, whereas cable connections transmit data through cable lines. DSL uses a modem and dials through the telephone line, whereas cable uses existing internal or external coaxial cables as well as fiber-optic cable. As of 2014, cable is also faster than DSL and more widely available.

DSL sends data faster than it receives data and is not easily accessible in rural areas. Both cable and DSL offer packages that vary in price depending on connection speeds. As of 2014, basic DSL plans feature speeds that start at 1 kilobyte per second and increase up to 3 megabits per second. Cable plans generally start with speeds of 1.5 megabits per second and increase up to 5.0 megabits per second.

Another major difference between cable and DSL is price. Most DSL providers have basic packages that start as low as $9.99 per month, as of 2014. However, cable Internet service is faster than DSL and as a result is three to four times more expensive. Cable Internet is generally bundled with telephone and cable TV service.

One advantage of DSL plans is that it allows users to access a steady Internet connection. Unlike cable, the DSL connection speed remains the same regardless of the number of users accessing the service. Bandwidth availability is affected while using cable Internet service when there are a large number of users accessing the Internet. This results in slow service and transfer speeds.