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What are the advantages of using DSL over fiber optics?

fiber optic vs. DSL internet service
Posted on Oct 20, 2021


Fiber optic internet vs. DSL internet service

One advantage DSL has over fiber-optic broadband is availability. Since most major metropolitan areas already have high telephone traffic, it’s easier for DSL providers to find space on existing telephone lines. For this reason, DSL has expanded faster than fiber optic technology in many areas of the U.S.

Another advantage DSL has over fiber optics is cost. The additional components needed for broadband transmission are expensive. The average price of installing fiber-optic cable is about $1,900 per subscriber. By contrast, the average DSL installation costs about $700 per subscriber. Since most customers purchase multiple services from their ISPs, this difference in initial outlay makes DSL more attractive to smaller ISPs. This cost difference also means that providers can charge less for DSL services than fiber optic broadband.

fiber optic vs. DSL internet service

One advantage DSL has over cable is speed. Cable modems generally cannot match the rates of DSL technologies because they are limited by the capacity of their connection with the Internet via a coaxial line shared with their neighbors. Cable broadband users who download large files or participate in video conferencing may find that DSL is a more suitable technology for their needs.

A final advantage of DSL over cable is service availability. Most telephone companies provide DSL, while cable modem service is limited to major metropolitan areas where coaxial lines are widely available. According to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), published reports indicate that less than 40 percent of U.S. households are within the service areas of cable broadband providers. Rural areas are even less likely to have access to cable modem service than cities.

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Advantages of using fiber optics?

Fiber optic cables can carry vast amounts of data, so they are the networks of choice for corporations and other institutions that need to quickly move large pieces of information. Fiber is also advantageous because its faster speed allows single network connections to simultaneously carry voice, data, and video signals. This quality makes fiber optic cables a better choice than copper wire when institutions send telephone calls, Internet messages, and television broadcasts in the same network.

Unlike DSL and cable broadband, fiber optic service in an area is not affected by whether a competing communications company has wired nearby homes or offices.

In addition, fiber optic service is not hampered by the distance from a signal origination point as it must be in DSL and cable modem service. The physical component that sends the message endures less interference, making fiber optic transmission more reliable at longer distances.


The disadvantages of using DSL over fiber optics?

DSL is not available everywhere. DSL technology uses existing telephone wires, but it can function only on telephone lines close to the provider’s office. DSL service won’t work if the nearest local telephone exchange is too far from subscribers’ homes or businesses. A map on the DSLReports website shows areas where DSL service is available.

A disadvantage of DSL compared to the cable modem is speed. Cable modems can transmit data faster than DSL because the cable signal has dedicated bandwidth, not shared with other subscribers like in DSL. Cable companies can send up to three or four megabytes per second (Mbps) downstream through their cable modem systems. DSL providers generally offer slower speeds that are only comparable to the fastest dial-up modems. Cable modems also often provide faster upstream speeds than DSL providers because of the ISP’s bandwidth’s high upload speeds.

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DSL service is vulnerable to power outages and telephone line faults; both problems can prevent DSL signals from receiving by the customer’s modem. Cable modems are not susceptible to either electrical damage or telephone line faults.

DSL is also less reliable than cable in providing continuous service because it shares bandwidth with other local telephone users and does not have a dedicated circuit. If there are too many subscribers in an area trying to use the DSL services at once, then performance will slow down. This can lead to problems during times of high Internet usage, such as evenings and weekends. Cable modems are generally less affected by multiple users since each subscriber has its dedicated bandwidth.

How about fiber optics?

Fiber optic service is also not available everywhere on an area map. However, unlike DSL service, which only operates on telephone lines near the provider’s office (although other services like ISDN can work over longer distances), fiber optic service is not limited to local loops close to the office. The physical components that transmit messages are more sensitive to length than electrical signals transmitted by copper wire; however, even if a subscriber is relatively far away from the provider’s office, they can still be within the service area provided by fiber optics.

Fiber optic services also continue to work during power outages; because electricity powers electronic components such as modems and routers rather than communications lines.

bottom line:

In short, if you live near a telephone company’s office and the local area is already wired with fiber-optic lines, then fiber optics may be a better choice than DSL or cable broadband. However, suppose you’re in a place where the telephone wiring has not been modernized to support fiber-optic service, and DSL or cable internet services are available. In that case, DSL or cable is a better choice than fiber optics.

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