Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Versus Week Round 3: DSL vs. cable high speed internet

All this week, Observer columnist Langston Wertz Jr. will write about popular technology rivalries and try to determine which is best for you. The week continues today today with a look at wired or wireless networking.

Monday: PS3 vs. Xbox 360
Tuesday: Macs vs. PC

High-speed internet has changed our lives. Long gone are the days of the logging into America Online and watching that blue login bar slooooooooowly fill up along the bottom of the screen.

Today, we download high-definition movies and video games and music, sometimes in seconds. But all high-speed Internet is not created equal. If you’re considering satellite-based Internet services, I’d rule them out – they’re spotty and can suffer from slow upload times. That leaves you with DSL or cable.

DSL Advantages: Unlike cable, which sometimes forces a neighborhood to share a “node,” DSL is one wire to one home (though homes far away from the central server may not receive the same quality service as those closer). DSL is generally more readily available to customers in outlying areas than cable Internet. Some of the newer DSL services, like Windstream in Charlotte, are offering increased download speeds.

Cable Internet Advantages: It’s easier to connect. DSL users often need to add filters to their phone lines to prevent interference with regular phone usage. Not a terribly big deal, but a small nuisance (especially when the filter doesn’t work properly). Also, in real-life applications, cable tends to be a lot faster. In Charlotte, Time Warner Cable’s Road Runner service – both the standard and turbo versions – is the fastest high-speed Internet service I’ve ever tested.

Knockout Blow: It’s all about speed. Locally, Road Runner (the standard version) is fast, reliable and you never need to log in, as some DSL services require. Road Runner also comes with free anti-virus software and free parental controls to keep the young ones off sites you don’t want them to see. (Windstream offers a similar security suite, but charges $2.99 a month for it after a free three-month trial.)

Winner: Beep-beep. Go cable.

Coming up:
Thursday: wireless vs. wired network
Friday: satellite vs cable

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

They both suck, DSL is slow. And they are starting to throttle the cable Internet. So the more you use, the slower it gets. Foreign countries offer much higher speeds for less money. Once again USA is lagging due to corporate greed!!

704Champ said...

Today's Games N Gadgets comparison should be a no-brainer. Cable wins this hands down. The ONLY thing DSL has going for it over cable is price, but I say if anyone says DSL is better, they probably work for AT&T

Anonymous said...

Corporate greed is the very thing that destroys the American dream on every level. Time Warner is one the worst and greediest companies I've ever had to deal with along with Sprint. I'm glad to see some competition among these services.

Matt Privett said...

Every time I have signed up for cable internet it has been on and off, incredibly spotty (and that's being kind). Since I finally switched to DSL a few years ago I've not had any problem whatsoever. DSL wins hands down.

Anonymous said...

DSL may not be the fastest, but it's the only thing available to me where I live and it's all I need. If you don't live within
20' of your neighbor, Time Warner doesn't find it economical to run cable between houses that are 1/2 mile apart out in the country where I live.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear you review TWC vs AT&T's UVerse.

Anonymous said...

It's not just about speed - it's about bang for buck, unless you have an excess of discretionary income.

I'll keep my DSL, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Review cable versus U-Verse service(Internet and TV), please.

Anonymous said...

uverse is coming to town with a real 18 mbps vs like twc 5 mbps. uverse also has better tv options too. Transparent menu, you can remote set your dvr over the phone, play the same show or movie off your dvr in three rooms stop/start each one independent of the others. i have read a lot on this and can't wait.

Anonymous said...

I'm an IT professional who has had business class Roadrunner for almost ten years. I just switched to Windstream's DSL service, as they gave me 12Mbps down speeds (true speeds, tested by me) versus the 5Mbps TW package (TW could not even come close this speed, not offered outside of dedicated services), and the cost is $30/month less. A no-brainer in any book, wich I would have done this years ago.

Anonymous said...

I have 10mb from Windstream in Concord and it runs at 9.5 throughput continuously. I love it!

Anonymous said...

My DSL from CTC was very good. Then Windstream took over CTC. Since then I have had several outages. Their outsourced help desk sucks big time.

Anonymous said...

DSL depends on the distance you are from the switching device. My ATT DSL is limited to Ultra speed because my house in Dilworth is pretty far from a switch. Dilworth! Come on AT&T, I am one mile from uptown!

AT&T's Ultra is pretty slow, about 1.2 mgs down and maybe 275k upload.

If the switch was closer, I would upgrade to 3.0 service at least, which costs just a few bucks more. That would be a big, big improvement for me.

I would use Road Runner but TW accidentally cut the line to my house and CAN'T REPLACE IT. Idiots!

Just to give you an example, with my old Road Runner connection I could watch streaming movies from Netflix on high quality. With DSL Ultra, Netflix defaults to Basic and gives a very poor picture.

Anyone have suggestions for DSL, I mean fast, realiable DSL, in Dilworth?

Anonymous said...

Once competition comes to town, TWC will magically be able to up the speeds they offer as the capability is most likely already built into their system. Cablevision in the LI NY area suddenly found this capability when Verizon FiOS came to town with 15, 30 and 45 Mbps speeds.

704Champ said...

With the turbo charged Roadrunner, I've gotten download speeds of 850-950 kB/s although uploads never go faster than about 40 kB/s.

I don't always get those D/L speeds, but its always pretty fast.

I have been quite curious about UVerse since I first heard of it.

Anonymous said...

I have TWC and the Download is between 3 to 5 mbs but the upload is usuallly 342kbs. They choke the upload and that makes the package much slower to use. Where I live the service is okay but I want speed and I'm paying for a minimum of 7mbs and usually don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Customer service rules and TWC lacks anything that resembles customer service. I dealt with TWC internet outages in my neighborhood for 4 years. I would have slow performance and spotty connections every other month for 2-3 days. I finally switched to DSL. No problems for the 6 months I've been using it. I had to call AT&T during the initial configuration and I didn't have to wait on hold for 40 minutes. I will gladly dump Time Warner and replace my TV service with U-verse when it is available in my area.

Anonymous said...

I changed to ctc to vonage phone service cause ctc wouldnt let me drop its phone service and and keep DSL. vonage is so much cheaper.

Anonymous said...

You forgot Clearwire...way faster than DSL or cable and a lot easier.

Anonymous said...

Roadrunner honks.

Wertz says its faster. IT ALL depends on where you live. Roadrunner is HORRIBLE for me. My Windstream DSL is consistently 12 mbps and at least $20 cheaper. Directv and DSL is the only way to go. I will never go back to Time Warner and their horrible Customer Service.

Oh your service is out? I can fix it next Tuesday.

Steve said...

I agree that it depends upon where you live, and what companies you have to deal with. Speed is important, up to a point, and the hassle of dealing with the provider can overwhelm the joy of a faster connection.

I was about the third person to get Road Runner on Time Warner's Monroe system. They came a few days early and installed it during an ice storm, and there were numerous tweaks needed over the first few months. But allowing for their shakedown period, it worked well, and I was quite pleased, particularly after all those years of dialup.

Now I'm in a transition period of life, gradually moving into a home at Davidson where I'll retire. I have MI-Connection's cable service, and I get 4.5 to almost 5 Mbps now, and presumably better after they upgrade the old Adelphia equipment. I have cheap ($10/mo) and slow DSL at the house in Gaston Co. and overpriced 1.5 Mbps DSL in my office. Either does fine for normal, standard things, and even streaming Netflix movies do OK at the house (at low quality setting, of course, but quite watchable). My main complaint is that the service goes out when it rains. Reminds me of when I had satellite TV.

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Armil@high speed internet in my area said...

Oh! I'd still go for cable high speed connection. I just think my providers do well on that type of connection.