Internet Basics: What’s the Difference Between DSL and Cable Internet?

July 4, 2019 Category: Pop Culture

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Have you always wondered about the difference between DSL and Cable Internet?  This blog will take a deep dive into what makes up these two modes of internet without getting too caught up in technical jargon.  This will help you decide what the right internet solution is for your needs – either in business or at home!

Taking you through the “Last Mile”

DSL, Cable and even Fibre to the Home services all have one thing in common – they connect consumers to the backbone of the internet.  The backbone is what transmits data between cities, countries and across oceans!  DSL, Cable and Fibre services are commonly known as “last mile” technologies because they are responsible for transmitting data from the backbone along the final stretch to your home or business.  Getting the internet through those last couple of miles can slow things down because the data switches to older copper cables (unless you have Fibre to the Home).  This is where the differences between each type of service begins.


DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line.  Data is transmitted over existing copper telephone lines and provides a high speed connection.  Just because telephone lines are involved, it should not be confused with dial up!  Voice calls on a telephone landline take up only a small amount of the shared bandwidth. This means that you can still browse the Internet and talk on the phone at the same time.

There are a few different types of DSL connection, including the following:

ADSL: Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line

– Download speed is considerably faster than upload speed

– Good for home users who download more than they upload

SDSL: Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line

– Same download and upload speed

– Good for business users

VDSL: Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line

– 3 times faster than ADSL

– Uses fiber-optic lines instead of copper lines to bring higher speeds


– You don’t have to share bandwidth with your neighbors = more consistent internet speeds

– Lower priced options available if you don’t need super-fast speeds

– More widely available in rural areas


– Effected by the distance from your home to the telephone central office – the further the distance, the slower the speeds

– Not as fast as Cable or Fibre

Is DSL right for you?

– You use Internet for streaming movies, music, shopping online and browsing

– Your household has 3 or fewer internet users

– You seldom play multiplayer online games

– You are looking for a plan that has high speeds varying from 6 Mbps to 50 Mbps


Cable internet leverages the existing infrastructure of cable TV to provide internet to your home.  A copper coaxial cable is wired in your home to your modem and then your router, which gives the devices in your home internet through Wi-Fi connection.  Our blog post on modems and routers explains this more!


– Faster download and upload speeds available than DSL


– Speeds may be slower during peak hours when many people are online

Is cable right for you?

– You have multiple devices streaming simultaneously in your home

– You like to frequently back up large files to the cloud

– Many people in your house game online

– You are looking for a plan that has high speeds varying from 5 Mbps to 300 Mbps

What about Fibre?

Fibre is the best option if it is available where you live.  Dated copper lines are replaced with Fibre optic cables, which use light to transmit data, resulting in even faster speeds and a more reliable experience!.  Our Fibre to the Home service allows you to bring the power of the Internet backbone directly to your home!  On the other hand, Fibre to the Neighbourhood (FTTN) services bring Fibre to your neighbourhood (a few hundred homes), which can improve speeds but not at the same rate.

Check out our Fibre to the Home page to learn more about what could be possible for you!

Making the Decision…

Choosing the right internet plan can be a complex task with many options that can be customized for your unique needs.  Doing the research is the first step in finding out what is right for you!  Check out our Internet page to discover the options we have available in your area.

Click here to see Execulink’s Home Internet options