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DSL vs. Cable vs. WiMAX: The Difference

By:Christine Fettinger

At this point in history, I think it’s fair to say that everyone uses the internet. But, how does everyone access the internet. Conventionally, for home internet access there was DSL and cable, but now, there is a newer player in the game, WiMAX. Let’s examine the veterans first.

DSL stands for digital subscriber line and is a method of providing data transmission over traditional phone lines while maintaining telephone services. Cable provides data transmission through coaxial cables. While on the surface DSL and cable may be very similar, once you dig deeper you will find that cable internet is generally preferred to DSL. However, this preference also depends on where you are, because prices and performance depends on where you live. Therefore, DSL loses the first battle because DSL performance suffers the farther you are from the central hub.

DSL provides connection speeds at a minimum of 768 Kb/s to 1.5 Mb/s whereas cable can provide speeds starting at 2 Mb/s. However, getting cable internet means you have suffer the installation process and charge from the cable company, whereas DSL has much easier installation.

So what about the new guy? WiMAX is where it gets exciting. There is a potential for future WiMAX to provide up to 1 Gb/s of connectivity. The idea of WiMAX started with the forum sharing the same name that promotes the interoperability of WiMAX technology. Recently, speeds on WiMAX have been seen at about 12 Mb/s in Australia, but realistic speeds in your neighborhood may be much slower. WiMAX is based on the new IEEE standard, IEEE 802.16, which was created to promote “Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks.”

Obviously, one of these technologies is better than the other, however, it will take some time for WiMAX to become fully available and the general standard for internet access to change.