Broadband – Cable vs. DSL – inQuo’s Tech Tip Tuesday Newsletter

Broadband internet service is a part of many people’s daily lives, whether at home, at work, with our phones and even at coffee shops and other public locations.  Many terms are used by advertisers and computer nerds, but what do they mean?

Cable and DSL
  • Cable broadband travels over the standard COAX cable that is usually buried and ran directly to homes.  Cable internet can offer faster speeds than DSL, but the broadband internet for a neighborhood is a shared connection, which may mean that during peak times, the internet may slow down.
  • DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a broadband internet service that works over regular copper telephone wires.  Most homes in the US have copper phone wires that are run (either underground, or overhead) directly to them.  Those lines run from your home to a DSLAM (a building or box that feeds the internet to homes).  DSL speeds can be slower than cable, however, because of how the network is setup, there is not much variation in that speed.
Bandwidth, Upload and Download

inQuo Computer Repair in Salt Lake City, UT - The Tech Tip Tuesday Newsletter

  • Bandwidth refers to the capacity or speed of a connection.  Imagine your internet connection is a pipe.  The diameter of the pipe is your bandwidth.
  • Upload speed means the speed in which your computer or network can send data over the internet.  When sending emails, accessing websites (typing the address), or sending large files over FTP or file sharing networks, you are uploading.
  • Download speed means the speed in which your computer or network can receive files and information over the internet.  When you are viewing a video on a website, you are downloading the stream to your computer, temporarily.  When you open an email and save a file to your hard drive, you are downloading that file.  When you type in a web address, as the page begins to load, it is downloading the information to your computer in the form of text and graphics.
Cable and DSL Broadband are priced differently, and depending on your individual needs, either one can be a good fit for you.  For the average home computer user that is surfing the internet for news and email, DSL is probably a good solution.  For online gaming, downloading large files, and heavy internet streaming (movies and video), cable may be a better solution.  Cable is typically more expensive than DSL.
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