DSL Vs. Broadband Internet: Get the Best One for You

As time goes on, internet becomes more and more of an essential. Which type of internet is right for you? We take a look at two of the most popular and determine which is the better option: DSL vs Broadband internet?

Journeying into the world of internet providers will, without a doubt, bring you across confusing terminology. Between the purposefully deceptive language of marketing, the numerous ways the internet is served through a home and all of the different bundles you must wade through.

To simplify matters, we’re focusing on the two most popular types of internet access: DSL and broadband. You’ll come to discover that referring to the Internet as just “the internet”, or “Wi-Fi”, does more harm than good. Getting technical is the best route in comprehending how the Internet is provided to your home and in knowing the key differences between DSL and broadband internet.


The internet, at its essence, is a communications network. It allows computers to connect to one another with data moving from one device to the next across the expansive “net” that links them together. The language that these devices use to speak with each other is called internet protocol.

internet service providers have a variety of different methods of providing the Internet to your home. These companies own the cables, connections, and satellites responsible for transmitting the internet to your computer and devices. Some of this equipment needed to connect to the Internet includes a modem, which allows you to connect to these conduits and a router, which allows you to wirelessly connect devices to you Internet in your home.

Broadband Internet

When delving into the ways internet can be provided to your home, you’ll come across broadband Internet. It’s an electronics engineering term, referring to “wide bandwidth data transmission”, usually used to talk about high-speed internet services. Broadband Internet is faster than dial-up, phone-based Internet services and it’s always connected. 

There are numerous types of broadband Internet, including DSL:

  • DSL

  • Cable

  • Satellite

  • Fiber optic

DSL Internet

Yes, understanding the different internet services can get confusing at this point, but keep in mind that the term “broadband Internet” is a general term. Beneath that umbrella are at least four common types of broadband internet, listed above), and DSL is one of them. As you can see, getting technical will actually save you from future headaches. If DSL is a type of broadband internet, then how does it differ from the others, like cable, satellite and fiber connectivity?

DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. This type of Internet connectivity utilizes existing telephone wiring to provide internet into a home - without interfering with your home’s ongoing telephone service. Service providers install a filter that separates phone lines, fax machines, alarms, and other devices that tap into that specific line, preventing disruptions.

DSL is just as fast as cable broadband internet. Consumers opt for DSL because installation fees can be dramatically reduced, as part of the process is already complete through an already existing phone line. With an easier installation process than other broadband methods, DSL can be set up and running relatively quickly. The icing on top of your broadband Internet cake? DSL may be the cheapest option because of its smooth and simplified installation process.

Getting into the real specifics, there are two types of DSL Internet:

Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line/ADSL: this is perhaps the most common as residential consumers use this type of DSL internet service. If you’re a regular Internet surfer, YouTube enthusiast or if you find yourself streaming or gaming online, then you’ll likely be an ADSL subscriber. This internet service is designed for those of us who take in a lot of data, but don’t send nearly as much - the consumers.

Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line/SDSL: alternatively, there’s an SDSL subscription, which is an amped-up version of its counterpart, ADSL. If you’re wondering who could need a boatload of data support for upstream and downstream content, look no further than a big business. Video conferencing and streaming are among the needs that require a business to use SDSL and its massive data support.

How do other types of broadband Internet compare to DSL? 

Cable Broadband Internet

The discussion of broadband internet often comes around to cable connectivity. Broadband Internet is the term used by consumers in reference to cable connections, especially because it’s one of the most common.

Delivered via copper wiring, cable broadband internet is one of the most ubiquitous methods of Internet delivery in the nation, offering bout 89% national coverage. It’s just as fast as DSL Internet, but you’ll notice a lag during heavy traffic hours, with peak times being in the evening, just as everyone is at home after work or school.

It’s an equal match to DSL in terms of speed and capability (minus the struggle it faces during peak hours), but with cable broadband internet, the issue most consumers see is the way its packaged. Bundles are popular among internet providers, so much so, that it can be difficult to negotiate out of receiving just cable internet. Consumers are frequently saddled with packages from their internet service providers that insist on phone and television deals, too.

However, these bundles aren’t necessarily a bad deal. Consumers can regularly come out on top, as studies have shown that cable internet providers are prone to flexibility in their prices and bundling efforts. You may end up with more than you bargained for and faster internet that’s equal to DSL.

The Other Types of Broadband

Outside of cable, there are other types of broadband that differ from DSL connections. For one, there’s fiber optic, a relatively new broadband connection that’s been introduced to the telecommunications market. Fiber internet is, in fact, a type of broadband Internet, but it has minimal coverage due to its early debut. Incredibly reliable, fiber internet proves its worth over cable broadband and DSL together, but it’s still growing and in its infancy.

Satellite broadband has been around for a decade and some change. Interruptions are can be a common occurrence with satellite, depending on the shifting moods of the weather. When it cooperates, satellite broadband is fast and furious, delivering high-quality internet in speeds comparable to DSL and cable both.

Which is Best for You?

The aspect that will cause you debt is going to be the installation process. It all boils down to whether you have an existing phone line that can be tapped into to provide you Internet access. Do you mind paying a little extra and having more? Then cable broadband internet could be for you, depending on the type of deal you can haggle. Do you want a low-cost, quick-and-easy installation with fast Internet? Then consider DSL.

Ultimately, it depends on where you live. The internet, being a series of connections between computers, depends on who can provide it best for you. Rural customers can depend on reliable DSL, a steadfast connection that hooks up through your phone line - dependable and speedy. Cable is there for those looking for a good deal. If you’re interested in deals, bundles, and packages, then Internet service providers have something to offer you. If you have the option, there’s fiber Internet. It’s the way of the future and like a crystal ball, certainly worth looking into.