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Thread: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

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    Default DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    A slow Friday night for me so I thought I'd post this and see if I could elicit any responses.

    With over a thousand members CPF members now, I'm sure a great deal of you have broadband cable internet access and hopefully a few posters have DSL such as myself and I was wondering what were your personal opinions and experiences between the two.

    I've had DSL for the past year and a half simply because it was the first available high speed alternative in my town. Now cable broadband is also available. The DSL advertises 640K download and 128K upload. The broadband advertises "up to" 1.5M download and I'm not sure about upload. Because of the apparent speed increase at about the same price, I've thought about switching to the cable but not after comparing speed results with other users. When I check my speed by going here, http://computingcentral.msn.com/internet/speedtest.asp I consistantly get download speeds between 400 and 450 kbs regardless of the time of day. Avoiding the web and downloading files from a newserver or FTP site, I average over 500 kbs. A couple of cable user friend's have done similar speed tests and although sometimes they're slightly faster then me but nowhere near the 1.5 meg bits advertised speed but often times they are slower then me and sometimes they are very slow not much faster then dial up, but inconsistant speeds all the time. I had DSL installation problems and downtimes at the beginning but over the past six months to a year, it's been much better and I'm up consistently weeks at a time. My service by the way is Verizon.

    Hopefully other's may weigh in with their experiences and post speed results. I'm not being snobbish and I feel for dial up users. When I go to my parent's in northern Vermont, the fastest I can get is 26.8 as there is over five miles of copper between them and the local phone CO.

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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    I have DSL through Mindspring/Earthlink. I have had great service so far. My only complaint is that it took about a month and a half from signing up to install/using the service.

    Mindspring advertises 1.5mbps top speeds, but according to your test I get 735.1kbps.

    Downtime is a rare thing, if it is down its never more than a few hours, but more likely less than an hour.

    Cable was not offered in my neighborhood when I got DSL, but I would have chose DSL anyway because its not a shared connection. Plus, a friend that lives an hour away has cable and says he gets a lot of downtime and sometimes slow service. On the upside for cable it can be way faster than DSL when it is working properly.

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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    Hey Geepondy, I should respond to my stack of email first, but it's friday night and I like to post in fun topics..

    A couple of jobs back I used to sell internet pipes to business (T-1s, DS-3s, CoLos, etc).

    For residential, I prefer (and use) DSL over cable (full and partial), microwave, satellite, dial-up, ISDN, frame, fracs, WiFi, blah blah.

    Cable does advertise higher bandwidth numbers and they can by law. But since it is shared bandwidth, they can't gurantee you'll get that or anything close. When I had cable, I never got the full pipe's worth even though my modem could handle 1.5mb down.

    DSL is dedicated bandwith (at least to the first provider). So you are more likely to get the "max" of the pipe. In fact, I have been with several providers so far and each one gave me more bandwidth (at times) than they advertised.

    DSL does takes a while to install. My first provider took 4 months to get me live. The second one took a month. Go with the local phone company for your DSL connection if you can and get your internet services over that DSL connection from a large provider like MSN, AOL, etc. I recommend the local telco ("CLEC") for the DSL connection because they are less likley to go out of business and they install faster. After all, it is usally their equipment that everyone uses anyway.

    If your like me, I switch providers more than I care, so it's handy to buy your own domain ($30/year) and point it to your current provider. That way your friends and family always have the same address for you.

    Btw, Tree, if you meant 1.5mbps that means 1.5 megabits per second. That equates to about 187 kilobytes per second which means you are getting your money's worth.

    1.5mb/sec is 1500 kilobytes/sec.

    Btw, DSL has another advantage over cable which I specifically require: DSL has less latency than Cable. DSL is typically ~50ms to the provider versus ~100ms for cable. This makes a difference in games, video conferencing, telnet, etc and generally effects how "snappy" the internet experience is.

    Peter Gransee

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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    I've got DSL, but only because that's my only option here right now.

    What I'm told, by people who should know, is that cable can easily clobber DSL. It is all a matter of the number of fibers that they light up to service the population. Cable only slows down when there isn't enough pipe to feed the users (obviously, and as Peter just posted). This seems to be a problem of growing pains. Nobody could have predicted how popular wideband would be, and the infrastructure couldn't keep up. They're currently laying the optic cable for my area, and they've sized it for 3x the current capacity. For the same price I'm paying for 1M down of DSL, I'll be getting 2M of cable next year. In theory. I hope.

    Every time I travel, and need to use a dialup, I can't believe that I ever got anything done that way...

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    Flashaholic* Mr Ted Bear's Avatar
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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    Geepondy,

    You and I are in the identical situation. Next week I will be switching from DSL to Cable to save $8 / month.


    I think the "results" is very much dependent on the area in which you live, and how will built up is your "infrastructure". My cable provider recently upgraded to an all digital system, and not uncommon for speeds of 1800-1900, and when things get "bad", 1200.

    The other difference is upload. I am limited at 256 for dsl (can pay extra if I want faster).. Cable is supposed to be 512, though I have no way to verify this.

    Good luck in your decision

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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Mr Ted Bear:
    Geepondy,
    Good luck in your decision
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Right now it's no decision. Unless my cable company revamps and offers something that yours does I won't switch. I didn't realize that there were "some" (but not mine) cable companies that offer internet access greater then 1.5 mbs and can actually deliver those speeds. For people who don't realize, 1.5 mbs is T1 speed, something which companies have and may still do pay several hundred dollars or more a month to achieve. There is probably more to it than that of which I'm not knowledgable about.

    I can't wait for the future, it can only get better.

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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    Well I finally have a DSL here and I like it. A lot of people I know have cable, but don't like that the speed change so much depengind on how many other people are using it. As Peter mentioned when playing games (Tribes 2) a DSL is much better due to the lower ping rate.

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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Gransee:
    Btw, Tree, if you meant 1.5mbps that means 1.5 megabits per second. That equates to about 187 kilobytes per second which means you are getting your money's worth.

    1.5mb/sec is 1500 kilobytes/sec.

    Peter Gransee
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    I guess I meant 1.5mb/sec and I don't get anywhere near that. It usually rides around half that rate.

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* Silviron's Avatar
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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    This is a long, rambling story, that most of you won't even care about- Sorry about that. Just to show you folks who have a internet connection that actually works well how lucky you are!

    I had DSL a year and a half or so ago in Phoenix through US West (now Quest) For the two weeks that it actually worked, it was great. Unfortunately it didn't work for the other 3 1/2 months I had it.

    After over 40 hours total on the phone to three different "tech support" groups, all blaming it in the other group, one was finally honest enough to tell me that they had no idea of what was wrong or how long it would take to fix it. Have heard many similar stories from other would-be DSL users.

    I haven't tried Cable, but friends that have it seem to have few complaints, although few of them are really technically savvy enough to really know what to expect.

    I wish that the place I spend most of my time now had something besides the two poorly performing dial-up ISPs that they have now, although it isn't totally their fault- our whole phone system is antiquated and poorly managed (Heck, we don't even have tone dialing here, just pulse).

    The local phone company (Owned by a somewhat tainted ex-governor and the wife of a current US Senator who were allowed to buy the system from GTE only because of their political connections and because of their supposed "minority" status) was going to offer DSL but their demands were outrageous:

    $99 a month (Not including ISP, that had to be arranged on your own). Three year contract, every year paid in advance and no provision for refunds or cancellation of contract for non-performance.

    Wouldn't have done any good anyway; The whole town of 7,000 full-time and 20,000 - 30,000 weekend /seasonal residents only has a single T-3 and two T-1 lines serving it from the "backbone", so there isn't enough capacity to make it work well anyway.

    Cable company was supposed to have internet service here a year ago, but won't even answer inquiries about it anymore.

    Tried to get satellite internet too, but none of the 3 companies that supposedly offer it for this area would even answer my inquiries.

    So, I really envy you folks that have options, some of which actually work right!!!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Brock:
    Well I finally have a DSL here and I like it. A lot of people I know have cable, but don't like that the speed change so much depengind on how many other people are using it. As Peter mentioned when playing games (Tribes 2) a DSL is much better due to the lower ping rate.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Oh yeah you can notice a difference in your pings in tribes between DSL and cable. Of course cable is way better than dialup. The worse game I had was with 2-way microwave (Sprint). Sometimes when my email really starts to pile up I go play a game of RA2 which is smoooth (and relaxing!).

    You also notice a difference in video conferencing with the lower pings. Me and a buddy do VC with our DSL connections and the frame rate is 30fps at 640x480. Nice picture and sound. I tried the same with microwave and it was jerky. 1-way cable was a lesson in frustration. Dial-up was painful as well.

    2-way microwave was probably the most interesting of all the broadband connections I've tried. I would click on a file, wait, wait some more, and then the file would come down in a big rush. Horrible latency but great bandwidth. The system had a max of 10mbps. Great for downloading files all day, not too great for actually using the Internet to communicate.

    My first DSL was with metanet/covad/internet connect. It was always going down. I switched to Qwest/MSN and I can't remember the last time it didn't work. I do have problems with MSN email though.

    Of course having a good connection to your provider is useless if their back bone and peers are horrible. When I used to sell bandwidth I joked about one particular competitor as being a "fast connection to nowhere". They would give away 10mbps CoLos for cheap. The back bone was DS-3s and such but then they would squeeze it down at the MAEs through a single 10mbps peer. So you could move through their network fine but if you want to actually get something from the rest of the Internet, your data slowed to a crawl or simply disappeared (packet loss).

    We had software (I think it is publicly available now) that would map out a competitor's network and show where all their peers where. You have two kinds of peers, public and private. Public are cheap and private are expensive, especially if they go somewhere important. A lot of providers would buy up a bunch of public peers to save money. Their customers would complain about poor connectivity and they would say, "the Internet is just being slow today". Shaa! Your peers are overloaded. Everyone wanted to peer with UUNET because they peered with everyone else (among other advantages). But then UUNET started cutting them off because they where sapping more bandwidth than they where providing. So all these little ISPs (tier 3, etc) bought connections from larger ISPs (tier 1&2) who had connections to UUNET. Talk about congestion. Very few networks are setup for good peering. Most just get by. Of course this was 4 years ago, I am sure a lot has changed. I understand a lot of backbones are underutilized right now (mostly in the form of dark fiber), but the providers still chintz on the peers. Of course you talk to the network engineers and they get all defensive, "we got great peering arrangements, the Internet is just slow".

    Ok. I better stop before I write a book... [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Peter Gransee

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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    I am on cable. They advertise like 768 or something for our speed. I took that speed test and just got 998.5. Not bad. Lol. On downloads, if I have connected to an awesome person, it has not been unknown to download at over 120k a second. Actually, it is VERY common for me to get well over 100k a second if I am doing multiple files. It usually hovers between 90 and 120k though. I just took that test again and got 1026. It IS early on a saturday morning, but I have tried it around 7 or so at night, and it rarely changes much for me. We have only had our internet go out once, for about a day, I think they were upgrading lines or something. It has been great so far, so it is going to suck when I go off to college. As far as I know, they have t1, but they also have LOTS of people on it. I sure hope they have more than one t1 line.

    Spudgunr

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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    About a year ago when I called our local cable company about the possibility of getting cable modems in our are I got "No, no, the cable connects to your TV". I went on to explain I wanted to use it to connect to the internet and got "well you could get that web TV thing". Again, I tried to explain how I wanted an internet connection and got "I don't think you can watch cable on your computer, but I guess…" At that point I gave up, they had no idea and I was out of luck. Just thought I would share that fun phone call.

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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Tater Rocket:
    I am on cable. They advertise like 768 or something for our speed. I took that speed test and just got 998.5. Not bad. Lol. On downloads, if I have connected to an awesome person, it has not been unknown to download at over 120k a second. Actually, it is VERY common for me to get well over 100k a second if I am doing multiple files. It usually hovers between 90 and 120k though. Spudgunr<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    For those of you who don't know, he is talking about his download speed in bytes, whereas the speed ratings that are advertised are in bits. One byte equals 8 bits so a 100kbyte/sec download transers to a 800kbits/sec download.

    I usually download at 60-65kbytes per second according to the windows download manager that pops up when downloading a file. I could upgrade my DSL connection for faster speeds at a higher cost but for web viewing and normal file downloads, it's plenty fast enough. Used to only get between 4 and 5 kbytes/sec download when on dial up.

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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    Well, DSL really took off in Japan only about 1.5 years ago. I got mine in May last year, and it is fantastic. Here, pretty much from the start providers were all offering 1.5Mb/512Kb(down/up), but now nearly all are offering 8Mb/1.5Mb at very low rates (average about US$20-25 per month..)
    My provider is extremely reliable - I have had no downtime at all since I got DSL, and performance has always been great - for domestic Japanese sites I regularly get 120KB download rates..

    Graham

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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    On my OOL cable connection, that test came up with 1351 Kbps on Sunday morning- I've had cable for about 6 months now, and haven't had any problems UNTIL the past few weeks, seemingly after some Cablevision trucks came by to do some work installing new fiberoptic lines. It was up, it was down, it was down, it was up- intermittently.
    After much gnashing of teeth and repeated service calls (where generally it would be up when the guy came by to check things out), the problem was finally cooperative enough to stay there until it could be verified by The Cable Guy. Isolated it to a bad module three poles down the street, and it's been fine again since.
    A friend has DSL in NY, and it does seem more sluggish in comparison, both from the way things come up and from running all these different speed tests (which vary wildly from one test to another, so they have to be taken with a grain of salt).
    The disadvantage of DSL from what I saw is the need to put the line filters on the extensions where you use phone service, because it introduces line noise that must be filtered out. The big advantage is that you don't need to call in The Cable Guy to do the installation of the cable, drilling holes in your wall to bring it in- that was a rather disconcerting experience, because it was done rather unfinessfully-
    With the DSL, it was just a matter of plugging in the modem to the line and running the setup; no fuss, no muss, (and installing all the line filters).

    Even so, for me, cable is the way to go, being lower cost and faster- The extra noise on the DSL phone line would bug me more than the one time trauma of the cable installation.

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    Flashaholic* Mr Ted Bear's Avatar
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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    Geepondy

    Well, they installed my cable just a short time ago, and after playing with the router, I very happy with my "test scores"... 1550 on the low end, 1722 was the high since 4pn this afternoon.

    Any idea how to test upload speeds?

  17. #17
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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Mr Ted Bear:
    ... Any idea how to test upload speeds?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    try this site: upload test

    also, this is a way cool site to test your download speed: speed test

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    Default Re: DSL vs. Cable, what do users think?

    I've had pretty good luck with Cable, and no slowdowns due to shared access, but then I am in a less populated area of our community. I regularly get 600 - 700 kbps down. Burps are rare, and those that have happened have been cared for quickly. I'm on Charter FWIW. I had no probs getting my linksys router to work with the cable either, which I understand can be an interesting feat with some DSL. I've heard more horror stories regarding DSL, and being in the telco industry I know a few inside things I'd rather not share publicly regarding our own service and delay times to final network access capability. So, I have cable and work for a telco......go figure [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

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