Compare DSL vs Cable Performance

compare dsl vs cableIt is time to declare a winner in the performance battle between cable and DSL broadband.  It would be impossible to compare DSL vs cable broadband without breaking down performance by region, market type, and technology before declaring our winner, so without further ado let’s get this fight started!

DSL Performance by Region

There are a few different regions that have such high population densities that networks are often pushed to their limits in order to offer the fastest services at the best prices to consumers in those areas.  DSL is certainly no exception to this rule, and so it should come as no surprise that New England and Mid- to Southern California both offer well above average DSL performance.

By contrast, the farmlands and more rural areas in the heartland of the country offer some of the slowest DSL performance.  Suburban areas and the medium-sized cities of the Midwest generally offer middle of the road broadband, but recent initiatives from the competition may spark a performance war in these areas.

Cable Broadband Performance by Region

Like DSL, cable broadband in the New England area Mid- to Southern California regions is top notch.  These regions are generally the first recipients of new technology roll outs that provider faster services, but of course there is always a price to be paid for speed of any kind.  The fact that DSL operates at high capacity in these areas just keeps cable broadband on its collective feet, and the two sharpen each other to a fine point in both of these regions.

Again, like DSL, cable broadband in rural areas tends to be on the lower side of the spectrum, with very hit or miss performance offered in the Midwest.  There are literally neighborhoods where the street itself serves as a massive performance divide for cable broadband in cities and towns throughout the Midwest, but this is slowly being addressed.

DSL Performance by Market Type

When it comes to the big cities, DSL has incredible performance on tap.  Virtually every major new advance in DSL technology was brought to the table first in a large metro area where it could reap an immediate return on investment from a large and affluent consumer base with high levels of discretionary income.  Thus, it should be no surprise that the fastest DSL services are found in big cities, but it should also be mentioned that varied services such as synchronous DSL lines are found in these areas more often than anywhere else.  After all, with large populations comes diversity, and there are many needs to be addressed and marketed to in the big cities of America!  Also keep in mind the technical challenges of dealing with older infrastructure and wiring in these cities, and the rollouts here are real challenges!

On the other hand, suburban areas and smaller towns are very likely to be the recipients of tried and true networking systems while rural America makes do with the limited long-range DSL offerings on hand.

Cable Broadband Performance by Market Type

Again, cable modems and the war with DSL have left highly populated metro markets with some of the fasted cable-fueled broadband around.  Work hard, play hard, right?  This leaves smaller cities and suburban portions of larger cities to be wired for mid-grade speeds and rural America again has to make do with limited broadband performance from cable companies, but government subsidies designed to increase broadband performance and access to these areas may change that.

DSL Performance by Need

DSL is in a unique position in that it generally has a slight edge in terms of latency, and some need sets are served exclusively well by the high upstream of synchronous DSL.  Finding synchronous cable broadband is very difficult to do in a major metro market, and nearly impossible elsewhere.

Cable Broadband Performance by Need

Cable broadband performance has long since placed an emphasis on downstream performance, but recent roadblocks have led to slightly higher latency upstream performance, but still well within the boundaries of tolerance for most end users.  Ironically, it is the need to offer error correction data for the blazing fast downstream that has started to push the upstream in cable broadband networks more than anything else.

Compare DSL vs Cable Broadband Performance: Aftermath

There is a single clear winner in this entire affair: Us.  We the consumer get better broadband performance at a lower rate than ever before and a whole world of services and technologies to use our connections with.