DSL and Cable

DSL vs Cable Internet – Which is Better?

The importance of the internet is no longer a debatable topic, as people from all walks of life now use the internet for their daily activities. The internet has become an integral part of our daily life for both personal and business usage. 

As a result, internet service providers (ISPs) regularly update and catch up with new technological innovations to provide internet users with fast and reliable internet services.

Given the number of service providers in Canada, the country’s internet users have diverse options for their home and business internet needs.

DSL vs Cable Internet

Generally, the two most popular internet access in Canada are DSL and Cable internet. These internet connections are the most popular and the most accessible with different internet speeds and reliability, depending on their usage.

Understanding the differences between these two internet connections – DSL and Cable internet – will help you in making an informed decision in choosing or upgrading your internet services.


DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is an internet connection that provides internet access to subscribers via modems. It is the most accessible internet service as it uses traditional phone lines to deliver reliable internet to Canadians. 

Using local phone lines to transmit high-speed internet, DSL engages a separate frequency for phone and internet usage. The implication of this is that a DSL internet user can use both phone and internet simultaneously without any hitch or interference.

While DSL is arguably slower than other high-speed internet connections like Cable and Fibre-Optic, it’s usually a preferred option among many internet users in rural areas. It’s a better option compared to traditional dial-up connections.

How it Works

DSL internet connection transmits services to internet users via a modem. It is 10 times faster than dial-up internet. Interestingly, DSL internet connections do not interfere with telephone usage. You can use both your phone and the internet simultaneously. This makes it one of the most popular internet services among Canadians.

DSL internet is prevalent in rural and urban areas as most Canadians have existing telephone services. Therefore, DSL is available in areas that other internet services may not reach. 

The need for faster and high-speed connections that can compete favorably with cable and other high-speed internet paved the way for two major types of DSL connections – ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) and VDSL (Very-high-bitrate Digital Subscriber Line).


  • It is widely available.
  • It’s more affordable and cost-effective


  • The connection speed is affected by distance to the provider or transmission station.
  • It can be disrupted by the weather.

Cable Internet

Cable internet is an internet connection that transmits or distributes internet services via coaxial cables. Cable internet makes us of existing TV cable lines for its broadband connection.

Cable internet service is one of the fastest and most reliable internet services available to Canadian internet users. 

Unlike DSL connections, Cable internet is most popular in urban areas and can transmit up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed, depending on your provider and network speed. Cable internet boasts of fast browsing speeds for upload and download of data.

While DSL uses telephone wires, Cable internet distributes internet services via Cable wires which invariably results in faster connections. 

How it Works

As mentioned earlier, cable internet uses existing TV cable lines (coaxial cables) and modems to transmit one of the most reliable internet connections to internet users. 

While speed may vary by location and providers, Cable internet is adjudged by many internet users as a faster and more reliable service than DSL. 

Cable internet is a shared connection among different internet users in a neighbourhood which may affect the connection speed. Concerns were also raised about the security of information transmitted over these shared lines.

However, modern cable internet service providers now use Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) that integrates safety measures in modems.


  • It’s more reliable than DSL.
  • It transmits faster internet speed
  • It uses existing TV cables


  • It’s not widely available in all locations, especially in rural areas.
  • It’s more expensive than DSL.
  • It may transmit a slow connection speed at peak periods.

Major Differences between DSL and Cable Internet in Canada


Download usually affects how fast or slow an internet connection will transmit services to users. Depending on your internet needs, both DSL and cable internet are capable of transmitting high-speed connections, though with different strengths.

DSL internet speed ranges from 1 megabit per second (Mbps) to 6 Mbps, which is sufficient for basic tasks like email, web browsing, video, and music streaming. The introduction of ADSL and VDSL paved the way for high download speeds of up to 50 Megabits per second and up to 10 Mbps upload speed. This speed range is suitable for large files transfer, HD video streaming, video conferencing, VoIP, and more.

Cable internet on the other hand has a faster and more reliable internet speed than DSL. Cable services download speed ranges from 15 Mbps and can go up to 100 Mbps.


When choosing your preferred internet service, you need to ensure its availability in your neighbourhood. Using existing phone lines, DSL connections are readily available in most rural and suburban areas.

Cable internet is also accessible using TV cable and is available across the country, especially in urban areas.


Depending on your internet usage, both DSL and Cable internet are suitable for an average internet user. DSL is capable of handling internet access to your PC or laptop for simple internet tasks like music streaming or web surfing.

Cable internet is suitable for multiple devices using a home network including laptops, smartphones, smart TV, Tablets, and more.

Connection Reliability

While both DSL and Cable services are reliable, the quality of their connection differs. DSL internet speed is mostly affected by proximity to the transmission source. The farther the user from the source, the slower the internet speed. Invariably, DSL users who are far from the ISP may experience a reduced quality in their internet connection.

Cable internet may also be affected by the number of users sharing the connection in a particular area. This may reduce the quality and speed of the internet, especially during peak periods.


Choosing your preferred internet connection is a factor of what you want to do with the internet, either for business or personal usage. Your location and available internet service (and ISP) in the area play an important part in your choice of internet connection.

Besides, you need to strike a balance between the speed and cost of your preferred internet service.

Overall, if you’re a light internet user, a DSL internet connection is adequate for your internet needs. Cable internet on the other hand is ideal for high internet usage on multiple devices. It all depends on your internet needs.

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