ADSL and Cable Broadband


adslAnyone who is interested in dwelling into the world of high speed internet come across two main contenders; DSL and Cable. Both provide similar services and offer super-fast web surfing that can be almost 3 times faster than the speed of a dial-up service. This means that with these two services one can download files, send multiple emails as well as stream videos at really fast speeds. Although they are superficially similar, there are a couple of differences between these two broadband services.

Firstly, let us have an idea of the working principle of these two individual broadband services.

ADSL Broadband

ADSL internet, abbreviation for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, is a type of broadband connection that is available through a user’s active telephone line. Unlike the dial-up service which uses the phone line to get connected to the internet, the ADSL works on the telephone line side-by-side with the voice calling functionality. Thus while using the ADSL service, one can connect to the internet as well as make and receive telephone calls. In the ADSL service the data transmission rate is quite fast.


ADSL or Asymmetric DSL is called so because the rate at which the data is uploaded and downloaded is not the same. In fact the uploading speed is lower than the downloading speed. While the download speeds can go up to 8Mbps, the upload speeds are just about 1Mbps. As the ADSL service is provided via the telephone line, it is widely available; almost 90% of the UK population have access to ADSL connection.

For effective, interference-free ADSL broadband connection, one needs to connect micro-filters on all the telephone lines. This prevents crackling on the phone line during internet access. Finally, installing an ADSL modem/router, connecting an ethernet or USB cable to the comp0uter/laptop will help you log onto the web.

Cable Broadband

Unlike the ADSL service, the cable service is not provided via the user’s telephone lines but is supplied via coaxial cables, which are connected to the main cable cabinet on the street corner. The service is provided over a shared cable line. The cable modem allows the user to send data over the cable television structure. This is done to make use of the unused bandwidth available on the network. As of now in UK, Virgin Media is the sole supplier of cable broadband service.


After having had an idea about the basis of the two types of broadband connections, now is the time for major distinguishing factors. Owing to these factors there is a silent ongoing war between these two broadband connections.

Bandwidth and Speed: – When it comes to bandwidth and speed, cable broadband is the one who wins the battle. Cable is capable of offering a speed that is almost 2 times faster than ADSL. However cable services can slow down if too many people are accessing the internet at the same time in the same region. With ADSL this is not the issue, even if you and your neighbour are using the internet at the same time, it does not considerably affect your browsing speed. Nonetheless, the speed and bandwidth battle is always won by the Cable Broadband.

Security: – Cable service is provided through a shared line, thus the people using cable broadband in a particular region happen to belong to the same local area network or LAN. This provides anyone in the neighbourhood the facility of clicking onto your windows network and download your personal data unless proper security measures are not taken. In case of ADSL, as everyone is using their own dedicated telephone line to connect to the internet, the option of someone in the neighbourhood accessing personal data is considerably less. Nonetheless, it is always safe to have proper security measures irrespective of the type of your broadband connection.

The security battle is thus won by ADSL Broadband.


Installation: – This is the next important factor to be considered when a type of broadband service is to be taken. With cable service all you need to do is call the cable technician to get a new line installed. Next you just need to connect this line to your modem; it is as easy as plugging your VCR to the television. On the other hand, with the ADSL service, one needs to go through a series of steps to get the installation done. You will need some micro-filters to be connected on the phone lines to prevent voice crackling on the phone line. Also, the modem needs to be installed by running through the installation process steps on your computer/laptop. This makes Cable Broadband the winner of the installation battle.

Cost: – When it comes to cost, ADSL tends to be less expensive than cable. With the various package deals currently available, you can manage to reduce your phone bills to a great extent. As cable broadband is tied with the television service from the cable provider, you may have to make a huge monthly payment to cover the bill costs. Therefore, in the pricing category ADSL Service emerges as a winner.

Alternatives to ADSL & Cable Broadband

If you feel the ADSL and Cable are both not the right type of internet service for you then there are a few alternatives you might want to consider.

Wireless Internet: – In remote areas where it is not possible to provide ADSL or Cable Broadband service, the wireless internet service is the best option. A dedicated telephone line is not required in this type of service. Local internet service providers offer local coverage by using the wireless technology. Here a small antenna is fitted outside the user’s house which receives the connection.

Satellite Broadband: – This type of broadband connection is accessible throughout UK, but is only used as the last option. There are two types of satellite broadband connection. The first type is a one-way connection, wherein the computer connects to the internet to receive data via a satellite and a dish, however data can be sent only with the help of a dial-up connection. The next type is a two-way connection wherein the satellite and dish is used for downloading and uploading purposes, but it is very expensive to install it and it requires a monthly subscription.

Which is Better – ADSL or Cable?

This question of which types of broadband service is best has no definite answer. Firstly, one needs to check the availability. More often both ADSL and Cable are not available in the same areas, so there is no choice to this section of people. They will have to opt for whatever is handy.

Next thing one needs to consider is their usage pattern. If you are a passive user who uses the internet for browsing and checking emails and similar stuff then ADSL is a better choice. However if you have a business to run and own a website then cable broadband might be the right choice.

Both the services have their own sets of merits and demerits. Have a look at various packages offered by the ISPs, analyse your requirements and accordingly make an appropriate choice.