If there were a race for internet types, these three would take the podium.
With Fiber coming in first place, Cable a close second, and DSL internet connection proudly in third.
All three are broadband internet connections, which is tech speak for “different than dial-up or satellite internet”.
But while they share a common definition, each varies in technology, internet speed and price.
Time you learned the difference? You've come to the right place. HomeLinkd has provided this easy guide explaining the differences between these internet service providers.
DSL stands for “Digital Subscriber Line”. DSL service is transferred through existing phone lines. Or in other words, the lines you're already “digitally subscribed” to. Unlike old-school dial-up internet, DSL uses different frequencies for phone and internet so that you can use both at the same time.
DSL is the slowest of the three, but it's generally cheaper. DSL is the most widely available type of connection as well.
Fiber gets its name from its fiber-optic cables underground, through which data is sent as pulses of light.
Fiber connection is the fastest internet around today but is available to only a quarter of Americans.
Cable internet uses existing television cables (or coaxial cables) to transmit fast internet to your home.
It's the most popular choice for most US residents since it delivers high speeds at reasonable costs. It's not as fast as fiber, but much faster than DSL.
DSL has been around since the 80s. And because most neighborhoods already have telephone wires, it's a resourceful choice.
Download speeds :5 –35 Mbps
Upload speeds:1 –10 Mbps
DSL requires you to have firewall protection, so it's actually more secure than Fiber and Cable connections. And unlike Cable, which slows down if your neighbors are all online at once, DSL's speeds are unaffected by user congestion.
ADSL and VDSL are altered versions of DSL. The “A” in ADSL stands for “asymmetric” since it offers much higher upload speeds than download speeds. The “V” in VDSL stands for “very-high-bit-rate" and is a newer and faster rendition.
Fiber optic internet transmits data through hair-thin strands of fiber glass. Fiber can send data at light speed, making it the fastest —and most reliable —internet of all time.
Download speeds: up to 1000 Mbps
Upload speeds: up to 1000 Mbps
To install fiber in your home, you'll need fiber optic infrastructure in your area. Then, you'll need to find an ISP in your area and get their technician to run additional fiber cables to your home. You'll also need a fiber-ready modem and router.
A lot of people ask, “is fiber internet better than DSL?"
In short, the answer is yes, as fiber is able to reach further distances than DSL or cable, but of course, it'll cost more money.
For more on how to install fiber, read our article here
Cable internet is available to 90% of Americans, since most people have access to cable TV. Of course, it's usually bundled with TV channels or telephone deals.
Download speeds:10 –1000Mbps
Upload speeds: 5 –100Mbps
Cable is not as expensive as fiber but still offers good speeds. But, since it uses a shared line to a central office, its speeds can be slowed down when more users are online at once.
For more on cable internet and how it works, read our article here.
Fiber offers the fastest internet speeds at the moment. And these are the main providers in the US:
Google Fiber: Google offers symmetrical high-speed internet, reaching up to 1,000 Mbps in select areas. It's available in 19 states and Washington D.C., with more locations being added every year. You can check if Google Fiber is available in your area here.
AT&T Fiber: AT&T offers symmetrical speeds of up to 940 Mbps in 22 states, with plans to offer service nationwide by 2020. You can check if AT&T Fiber is available in your area here.
Frontier FiOS: Frontier offers symmetrical speeds of up to 940 Mbps in select areas on the East Coast and in California. You can check if Frontier FiOS is available in your area here.
Verizon Fios: Verizon offers symmetrical speeds of up to 940 Mbps in nine states on the East Coast. You can check if Verizon Fios is available in your area here.
CenturyLink: CenturyLink offers symmetrical speeds of up to 1 Gbps speed in select areas nationwide. You can check if CenturyLink is available in your area here.
Comcast: Comcast is the largest cable internet provider in the US, offering Xfinity packages with download speeds of up to 2,000 Mbps in select areas.
Spectrum: Charter Communications offers Spectrum internet with speeds of up to 940 Mbps in 41 states.
Cox: Cox Communications offers internet packages with speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps in 18 states.
EarthLink: EarthLink is available in 8,000+ cities and offers speeds of up to 1 Gbps.
Some of the providers offering DSL are:
AT&T: AT&T is one of the largest DSL providers in the US, offering internet packages with speeds of up to 100 Mbps.
Verizon: Verizon is one of the largest DSL providers in the US, offering internet packages with speeds of up to 100 Mbps.
CenturyLink: CenturyLink is one of the largest DSL providers in the US, offering internet packages with speeds of up to 40 Mbps.
Frontier: Frontier Communications offers internet packages with speeds of up to 6 Mbps.
Windstream: Windstream offers internet packages with speeds of up to 50 Mbps.
Cable and fiber internet are both similar in that they're fast and widely available. But there are a few key differences:
- Fiber is faster than cable. The average download speed for fiber is 1,000 Mbps, while the average download speed for cable is 100 Mbps.
- Cable is more affordable than fiber. The average price for fiber is $70 per month, while the average price for cable is $45 per month.
- Fiber is more reliable than cable. Since fiber uses a dedicated line to your home, its speeds are not affected by how many people are using the internet at once. Cable, on the other hand, uses a shared line to a central office, which means its speeds can be slowed.
DSL and cable are both widely available and offer average speeds of around 100 Mbps. But there are a few key differences:
- Cable is faster than DSL. The average download speed for cable is 100 Mbps, while the average download speed for DSL is 25 Mbps.
- Cable is more affordable than DSL. The average price for cable is $45 per month, while the average price for DSL is $60 per month.
- DSL and Cable transmit data the same way - via electricity through a copper cable, but these copper cables can be affected and weakened the further it has to travel.
- Cable is more reliable than DSL. Since cable uses a dedicated line to your home, its speeds are not affected by how many people are using the internet at once. DSL, on the other hand, uses a shared line to a central office, which means its speeds can be slowed down by heavy internet usage in your area.
Fiber and DSL are both widely available and offer average speeds of around 100 Mbps. But there are a few key differences:
- Fiber is faster than DSL. The average download speed for fiber is 1,000 Mbps, while the average download speed for DSL is 25 Mbps.
- Fiber is more reliable as it able to travel much longer distances than DSL due to its underground network of cables.
- Fiber optic internet is more expensive than DSL. The average price for fiber is $70 per month, while the average price for DSL is $60 per month.
When it comes to gaming, fiber is the clear winner. Fiber optics offer much higher speeds than both cable and DSL, making them ideal for gaming and other high-bandwidth activities. Additionally, fiber optic connections are much less likely to be affected by external factors like weather or electrical interference.
If you’re looking for an internet connection that can handle your streaming needs, you may be wondering if you should go with cable or fiber. Both offer fast speeds and are widely available, but there are some key differences between the two that could make one a better choice for you than the other.
Cable is typically faster than DSL and is available in more areas, making it a good option for streaming. Fiber is even faster than cable and offers symmetrical speeds, which means you’ll get the same speed when downloading as you do when uploading.
Choose your internet like you would a pair of shoes —is it a good fit for you?
Check out our table below which lists what's best for your area and preferences.
Key Strengths: Inexpensive, secure
Best Suited For: Small households, small offices
Suitable For: Simple browsing, emails
Types of Users: Older residents, small families in rural areas
Key Strengths: Fast, reliable
Best Suited For: Smart homes, big office buildings
Suitable For: Video streaming, virtual calls, online gaming, smart devices
Types of Users: Tech lovers, internet lovers
Key Strengths: Highly available, standard speeds and costs
Best Suited For: Quieter residential areas
Suitable For: Standard streaming, downloading, gaming
Types of Users: Big TV viewers, the average internet user
Now that you know the difference between three leading internet access types, you can make informed decisions when it comes to staying connected to the internet, Whether its fiber-optic internet you're after, something that offers a high-speed internet connection or an affordable plan that gives you great internet signal - we have something just for you!
Regardless of what internet you choose, HomeLinkd’s got you covered.
Browse and compare all our offerings by provider, speed, price and more, here.