What is The Difference between DSL, Cable Modem or FiOS for Internet Connection

Your business depends on internet connection. We store data in the cloud, run applications, upload and download data, and use Managed IT services – none of it would be possible without proper internet connection. The most obvious difference is in speed, and that is based on technology used. There are several most common ways to connect to the Internet. So, what makes them different from one another and which one will serve your business best?

Most Common Types of (wired) Internet Access:


Dial-up, or as it is most commonly used, dialup,  is a form of Internet access that uses the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to establish a dialed connection to an Internet service provider (ISP) via a dedicated telephone landline, with an average transmission rate of 150 kbit/s. (The first ones were 14.4) Dialup can be internal (as an expansion card,  part of the chipset or the computer’s motherboard), or external, – an independent unit that would be placed next to the computer. Chances are, some of you are young enough not to even know what the dial-up box is, and those of us old enough still remember the squeaky static noise when trying to connect (We did put up with it in anticipation to hear a now proverbial “You’ve got mail!”. Dialup connection is the slowest type, and it is is on it’s way to become obsolete. According to the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), only 6% used dial-up in 2010, mostly in rural areas. 56K standard and 56K high-speed are the fastest options for the Dial-Up
  • PROS: Dial-up modem relies solely on the phone connectivity, you can connect to the internet anywhere, as long as there is a phone line you can plug the modem into.
  • CONS: It is an outdated, slow technology. If speed is important to your business, you will loose with this one.


DSL begins the types of broadband (high-speed) internet connection. DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line (or Loop, as it was originally known) is a type of Internet connection provided by an ISP  through the telephone network. DSL uses the high frequencies, while the low (audible) frequencies of the line are left free for regular telephone communication, so unlike dial-up, DSL does not interfere with the telephone line for regular voice phone calls.  These frequency bands are subsequently separated by filters (telephone units) installed on location. 8 mbits/s transmission rate is an average number for DSL, but distances greater than 2 km (1.2 mi) significantly reduce the bandwidth usable on the wires (twisted-pair copper), and it can reduce the data rate. Additionally,  your range of abilities with DSL Internet connection is mostly defined by the configuration of services offered by the particular ISP. In the US, there are three types of ISPs that you can purchase the DSL Internet access service from: Independent ISPs, Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers and ISPs acting as Competitive Local Exchange Carriers. DSL gives you fast access by taking advantage of unused frequencies in existing phone lines
  • PROS: It’s faster then dialup and its more likely to be available for those in rural areas
  • CONS: DSL options can be confusing; while DSL is still popular, its technology is going to be outdated soon


T(X) lines are dedicated lines set up by a telecom company between a remote site and the network backbone. They are typically used to connect geographically separated locations such as corporate offices for private voice and/or data networking. T1 operates at 1.544 Mbps, T2 at 6.312 Mbps, and T3 at 44.376 Mbps. All you have to know about T1/2/3 is that these lines are typically used by larger businesses and are far more expensive than the traditional broadband connection as they are dedicated and always reliable. The concept of T2, T4 and T5 aggregated lines also exist in telecommunications, but cases of them being used in practice are rare.
  • PROS: Reliable
  • CONS: Expensive. When the number after T gets bigger, so does the price.


It is used  for transmission or receipt over cable television lines, and is is used primarily for connecting to the Internet. A cable modem converts analog data signals to digital form and vise versa to transmit signals over cable lines much faster, and it is not to be confused with a telephone modem.  Transmission rates average around 1.5 mbit/s.  Because cable is shared among multiple tenants, connection is usually slower during the hours most users are on the internet. Faster transmission is actually possible, but in addition to shared overload, speed can usually be restricted by the cable company’s connection to the Internet. Cable Internet access is competitive with DSL.
  • PROS: Fast for the value
  • CONS: Initial cost and limitations of available locations.


FiOS stands for Fiber Optic Service that connects to the Internet using light over an optical network. In your home, you still connect your computer through copper wiring. The advantage of FiOS is that it can provide higher speeds than traditional copper wire connections such as DSL or cable. Some Internet providers offer multiple options, depending on the area you are in. More populated areas are more likely to have FiOS available. Check with your phone company or Internet provider for more information.
  • PROS: operates at speed of light
  • CONS: limited to one provider (Verizon) and not available in all areas
Of course, a lot depends on your actual Internet Service Provider. Here is a good resource to dig through when choosing the Internet Access type for your business:
  • ISPcompared.com gives you the edge when it comes to comparing Internet service providers. We assist you by providing useful tools, user reviews, and user submitted ratings. ISPcompared.com helps make finding a faster more affordable ISP quick, easy, and painless.
  • Top 10 ISP providers reviewes byTopTenREVIEWS, who are dedicated to giving you the information you need to make a smart purchase.

If, like ours you business is located in New Jersey, USA, here is another good resource for you:

  • New Jersey ISP Guide compares Price, connection type/speed, special offers, features and more information about various providers, including AT&T, Verison, Quest, Comcast, TIme Warner Cable, Charter and Cox.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out!

Comments are closed.