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Cable vs. DSL vs. Telephone Test Review © 2004 Ken Rockwell.com

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Second Telephone Line

Just forget about getting a second phone line. The phone costs you $20 a month and then you have to pay another $25 a month for AOL or MSN or whatever. For this same $45 a month you can get a cable modem or DSL (in developed areas) and get far better, always-on service with no disconnects, no waiting to log on and no waiting for things to download. Unfortunately telephone dial-up is the way most people connect to the Internet and I have designed my site to work well through it. Just forget the second phone line.

Cable or DSL?

These two kinds of service compete directly against each other. They are pretty much the same and cost the same. Either is far better than a second phone line.

I asked myself this twice. Here in La Jolla, California I can get any Internet connection I want.

I had commercial DSL (384/384kb) for a year or two and they went out of business. I chose that because I guessed that the telco would be more reliable than the cable company and I thought the speeds were the same.

Then I got Road Runner Cable in September 2001.

I prefer the cable modem. Why?

1.) It's faster. All I got on DSL was the 384kb/s for which I paid $120 a month. I get 1.5 Mb/s from cable that costs $45 a month, and that's even with a neighbor who hosts an illegal porno movie website out of his house through his cable modem! The upload speed of the cable modem is only about a couple of hundred kb, a little slower than the expensive commercial DSL. Unless you are hosting a web site out of your house, upload speed isn't too important. (This site is hosted by a professional hosting company, not on my home Mac!)

2.) It's easier. The DSL people want a year's contract and make you wait 4 weeks to install it. The cable people know their service is great so they don't need to get you to commit for a year sight unseen, and they'll probably have you up in less than a week from when you first call them. The cable folks usually let you cancel it if you're unsatisfied within 30 days, quite the opposite of DSL.

3.) Taxes. Oddly, you pay federal taxes on DSL, since it's considered a telecom service from the phone company. You pay no taxes with cable since it considered an internet service which is exempt from federal taxes. Weird, and subject to change and will vary from state to state.

4.) Service. My cable modem just works, and if it didn't the cable company, the only company involved, would fix it. With DSL you may have several different organizations involved who will blame each other for any problem and leave you holding the bag. In June 2004 a friend is having a problem with her DSL, and the DSL company, Covad, came by and then blamed the problem on Pacific Bell. Covad left and is hoping PacBell will come by in a day or two and fix it. All this time my friend is out of luck and can't make either side fix her connection.

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