Difference Between DSL Modem and Cable Modem – Which One is Best?

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Are you in the search of a new broadband internet connection for your home and want the best internet speed for your need? If so, you may be wondering if a DSL or cable modem is the better option for you. Both types of service have their pros and cons, so it can be tough to decide which is the best fit for your needs.

In this post, we’ll discuss about the differences between DSL and cable modem to help you make an informed decision.

The main difference between the DSL modem and Cable modem is the connectivity medium and the connection method. A DSL modem uses a phone service that is connected by the telephone lines and operates through a unique connection. While the Cable modem uses a TV Cable service that is connected by coaxial cable and operates through the shared network connection.

Also Read: How To Self-Install Optimum Modem 

Comparison Table of DSL Modem and Cable Modem

Parameters of ComparisonDSL ModemCable Modem
Connectivity MediumIt is connected to internet using telephone linesConnected to the internet through TV Box via Coaxial cable
SpeedCan handle up to 400 MbpsCan go as high as 10 Gbps
UsabilityFor average browsing and Standard quality YouTube streamingFor business needs, High-end gaming, and to stream UHD videos on 4k or 8k screens
Speed StabilityIts unique phone line connection and dedicated network makes it more stableLess stable and internet speed fluctuates due to shared network connection for the whole area
Distance FactorInternet speed slows down with the increase in distance between modem and central office of Internet service providerNo effect of distance. Speed remains same as long as modem is connected to internet

What is DSL Modem?

DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line, is a type of modem that provides high-speed internet access through the use of your telephone line. DSL uses the residential lines to connect the ISP to modem. DSL Internet techonology been around for many years and is still one of the most popular types of internet service available.

DSL uses two wired telephone connections, one for download and one for uploads. This provides a higher speed than a single connection like you would find with a dial-up service. Download speeds can be as high as 100 Mbps to 400 Mbps with some providers, and upload speeds are usually around 10 Mbps but can go as high as 100 MBps.

DSL is that it doesn’t require a lot of setups. In most cases, you can simply plug your DSL modem into your telephone jack and you’re good to go. This makes it a great option for those who are not tech-savvy or don’t want to deal with complicated setup procedures.

DSL is a great option if you need fast speeds for things like streaming videos or gaming online. It’s also a good choice if you need to upload large files frequently. Because nobody else will be using your bandwidth and you will get what you paid for.

DSL is ideal if you want the higher broadband speeds without having to worry about data caps or shared connections. It uses unique lines for your home, so you won’t have to worry about others using up your bandwidth. However, if you compare it in terms of speed, it can be a little slower than other types of modems, such as cable or fiber.

Also, If you are opting for a DSL modem, an additional point to consider is your distance from the service provider. If your DSL service provider is further away, you may experience slower speeds while you can get the same speed as your subscribed package if the physical distance is less between you and your ISP.

Also Read: Blue ridge compatible modems

What is Cable Modem?

A cable modem is a type of broadband modem that provides high-speed internet access through a cable TV network. It uses the coaxial cable connected to your TV box to provide a fast, shared connection for all the devices in your home.

It is one of the most popular types of modems available and is typically used by those who want high-speed internet access. The speed of the cable modem is significantly higher than the DSL modem.

It can give up to 1 Gbps downloading speed on DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem while 10 Gbps speed if you are using DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem

Cable modems typically offer faster download speeds than DSL modems, and they are not as distance sensitive as DSL. This means that you can get the same speed no matter how far away you are from your service provider.

Cable modem is a great option for those who have multiple people in their homes using the internet at the same time, as they can share the bandwidth.

But one downside to cable modems is that they can be more expensive than DSL modems. They also require a monthly rental fee from your service provider if you are renting it, which can add up over time.

However, if you are a blazing fast internet speed passionate and higer costs doesn’t bother you then a cable modem is a great option for you.

Also, they are a bit less stable in maintaining the bandwidth if a lot of users are connected to the internet, while the DSL modem can equally handle the bandwidth distribution thing.

Also Read: Armstrong approved modems

Difference between the DSL modem and Cable Modem

The main difference between a DSL modem and a cable modem is the type of connection they use. DSL modems use telephone lines to connect to the internet, while cable modems use the cable TV network. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference and what’s available in your area.

There are a few points to consider when discussing the difference between both types of modems.


The Speed of a Cable Modem is undoubtly faster than a DSL modem. If an extraordinary internet speed is not your need and your internet usage is limited to regular browsing, you should opt for a DSL modem because it will easily cope up with your basic browsing needs.


DSL modems use the unique telephone lines directly coming from the telephone exchange and nobody else is using your internet from the leakage of pipe on the way. However, Cable modems use the common network throughout the whole area through the TV cable connections.

Cable modems acts like a network switch where every user struggles to get maximum speed and those who are using the modems having high-end specs get most of the speed.


DSL modems are considerably lesser in price when compared to cable modems. Also, if you are a cable modem user, either you rent the modem or buy your own.

But renting the modem costs a lot and your ISP chagres it every month on the top of basic subscription. Still you got to make the choice becasue the perks and joys of a scalable speed are there when you consider using cabel modem.

Distance from ISP:

DSL modems tend to perform ineffectively and have slower internet speed if the distance between the Internet service provider and the DSL Modem becomes higher.

On the other hand, the speed of Cable internet is never affected by the distance factor. Whatever the distance of your cable modem from the internet service provider is, it will perform equally while maintaining the same speed.


DSL internet uses phone lines for the connection. These phone lines are used for the internet as well as the landline phones. These lines have unique and separate addresses for each DSL modem.

Cable modems use the coaxial cable network. These cables are attached to your modem along with the TV Setup box at the same time. Also, the TV programs and internet services are transmitted using the same lines which saves the infrastructure costs and the installation costs of ISPs.

Things to consider when choosing a modem

Type of Internet Connection:

Give your head a litte struggle and think about the type of internet connection you want to use in your home, DSL or Cable. The selection of the modem will be based on your connection preferences.

Availability in Your Area:

Your preference is always followed by your availability. Your willingness to use the Cable modem is nothing more than a dream unless Cable internet service becomes available in your area.


Tight on the budget and some bills are pending? Let your budget decide which modem and internet connection currently fits in your lifestyle. I suggest you to go for DSL internet because it costs a lot cheaper than Cable internet and fiber optic internet. For the time being, it would make you save a few bucks that you can use on the rainy day.

Pros and Cons of Each Modem

Pros of DSL Modem

  • It is cheaper as compared to the cable modems
  • It provides a stable internet connection through the telephone lines
  • Each user has its unique wire so the bandwidth is never shared with anyone else
  • It uses phone lines, which may already be in your home, so it can save the cost of new lines
  • You can make the phone calls using your landline phone while using the internet at the same time
  • Its coverage and service are usually available in most areas

Cons of DSL Modem

  • It’s an older technology so you may need to install the telephone wires if you don’t have them already
  • Its speed is limited and can’t handle more than 400Mbps as a max
  • Internet speed drastically drops if the distance between the modem and ISP is more. DSL service performs at its peak when you are closer to the central hub/office of the ISP

Pros of Cable Modem

  • The cable modem can handle the speed from 1Gbps up to 10 Gbps through its future proof technology of the DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 modems
  • Most of the users already use the Cable TV services so no need to install additional Coaxial cable for the internet connection
  • Distance from the Internet Service Provider does not impact the internet speed
  • You can add more upstream and downstream channels to boost the internet speed just by switching to an advanced modem

Cons of Cable Modem

  • Cable internet packages and modems are a bit expensive
  • It uses the shared network connection, so the users that are using High-end advanced DOCSIS 3.1 modems usually get maximum bandwidth and speeds than those who are using an ordinary cable modem.
  • When too many users are connected through the same channel, internet speed decreases


Now that, you have closely observed all the differences between DSL modems and cable modems. I hope this detailed guide will help you to make the informed decision for about your modem selection.

Considering connectivity medium, connection method, and the expected speed of both type of modems, I suggest that If you are an average internet user with basic browsing needs then I would recommend you to select the DSL Modem internet connection. Otherwise a Cable modem must be the winner of your vote if your aim is to play like a pro-gamer or streaming the UHD Netflix movies on your 4k screen is in your wishlist.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the max speed for DSL?
It entirely depends on your internet package plan and the modem you are using. The basic stater speed of DSL internet package is usually 5 Mbps to 10 Mbps, but most of the average used use the internet package of speed upto 100 Mbps. However, DSL internet with High-end DSL modem has the capacity to go up to 400 Mbps.
Which is better cable modem or DSL explain?
When it comes to Speed, Cable internet is a straight winner. It can deliver from 1 Gbps up to 10 Gigs of downstream speed while DSL internet has slower speeds probably 100 Mbps on average. However if talking about the stability, DSL modem beats the competition because it uses direct phone lines connected to your home while Cable modems uses shared network which makes it unstable. So for speed, Cable modem is better but for stability DSL is better.
How do I know if I have a Cable or DSL Modem?
Pick up your modem and look at its back, if the telephone landline wire is connected to it then it’s a DSL modem. While if the coaxial like just like the one which is attached with your TV LCD or TV Setup box is attached to the back of your modem, then it’s a Cable modem.
Can I use a cable modem with DSL connection?
No you can’t use Cable modem with DSL connection because DSL connection has the telephone wire, while cable modem takes the input only through Coaxial cable. So both type of networks needs different modems. However, a single type of router can be connected to almost every type of modem.

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