DSL technology is showing its age, and its speeds and throughput can't match what cable and fiber internet offer.
But DSL is still a better internet option than dial-up, and we have to wonder why 1.9% of Americans with an internet connection still use that screechy 56k connection to get online.3 (Hint: It's likely because they don't have any other way to connect to the internet.)
While DSL and dial-up both connect through phone lines, dial-up ties up the whole line and DSL doesn't. This means that dial-up doesn't let you use the internet and make phone calls at the same time. Plus, dial-up requires you to re-connect every time you want to access the internet. (Remember that old screeeee-ba-doi-oi-oing-bapbapbap noise when you connected?)
A DSL connection, on the other hand, is always on. And, thanks to a special filter installed at the phone jack, the internet and phone signals don’t interfere with each other.
This allows you to use the phone and internet at the same time. (Don’t underestimate the convenience and saved time of an always-on connection—nobody wants to sit and wait for their mom to get off the phone just to check some email.)
Cable uses coaxial cables to connect you to the internet, and those cables allow your internet connection to reach faster speeds than what DSL gets you. For example, cable internet can reach speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, while DSL internet caps at about 100 Mbps.
Cable internet technology also offers faster upload speeds than even VDSL2, which means you can post that new YouTube video online faster or send off that giant Excel spreadsheet to your boss without wasting much time.
But one way DSL gets the lead on cable internet is that it gives you a dedicated circuit. That means you don't share your DSL internet lines with any of your neighbors. So if they hop online at the same time you do, your speeds don't slow down.
With cable internet, you share part of your connection with any neighbors who use the same ISP. So if everyone around you uses Xfinity and you do too, your internet speeds will likely dip if everyone's online at the same time.
If you can get fiber internet, we always recommend it over any other type of internet. This newer technology uses glass fibers and light signals to keep you connected to the internet, resulting in much faster speeds and a connection that doesn't get worse over long distances.
The price for fiber internet has come down in recent years too. That means you might pay as much for a fiber connection as you would for a DSL plan, making the choice between fiber and DSL much easier.
Satellite internet might be another alternative you're considering if you live outside of town. But if you've got the choice between a faster DSL internet plan, like 50 to 100 Mbps, we say that's a better choice than satellite.
Why? The main reason is that DSL internet costs a lot less than satellite. The average DSL internet bill is $50 a month, while the average satellite bill skyrockets to $123 a month. That's a huge difference, and we doubt your budget would like it.
Another reason is that satellite internet has high latency. That's how much time it takes for your data to leave your computer and travel to the server hosting the website you're visiting, then back again. Satellite latency usually sits around 600 milliseconds (ms), while DSL latency hovers around 30 ms.