Should I Get Cable or DSL?
Author : David Colker    -   Subject : Internet

    Question: I want high-speed Internet access. Which is better, DSL or cable? What's the difference?

    Answer: First, you have to determine whether you have the luxury of a choice. DSL and cable Internet access are not available in all areas.

    DSL, or digital subscriber line, works by splitting an ordinary telephone line into one segment for regular phone services such as voice and fax and another for Internet data. Unfortunately, the DSL signals diminish with distance, so most telephone companies -- including Pacific Bell and Verizon -- will not offer it to customers farther than about 2.25 miles from central switching offices.

    To determine whether DSL is available in your area, contact your Internet service provider. Or you can go directly to telephone company sites for PacBell or Verizon, both of which let you determine whether service is available at your phone number.

    If you order DSL directly from your telephone company, you probably will have to use the company's Internet service, which means changing your e-mail address if you are with a different provider. If you want to keep your address, check with your current provider to see whether it can arrange the DSL hookup. The big ones, such as AOL or EarthLink, and many smaller ones can do so.

    Cable modem service is available only where cable lines are interactive.

    A cable line is generally shared within a neighborhood. So if numerous neighbors with cable modems are all online at the same time, the speed for all will slow. DSL, however, flows at an essentially steady speed.

    If you already have cable service, you can get broadband for less than DSL. Most residential DSL subscriptions cost just under $50 per month.

    (c) 2001, Los Angeles Times

    Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.

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