Cable internet, much like cable TV service, uses coaxial cables that connect from your home through a modem receiver to a nearby node, and then to your internet service provider. The modem receives electrical signals, which then convert into internet service, similar to how a cable TV box receives a signal and displays an image.

What we like

  • Faster than DSL or satellite internet – Cable internet offers speeds up to 10x faster than DSL or satellite internet.
  • Widespread availability – Apart form satellite internet or fixed wireless, cable internet is the most available internet service, serving 89% of U.S. residents.
  • Easy installation – Cable internet is already installed in most homes, unlike fiber internet which requires a lengthy and expensive installation process for it to become available in your community. 

Things to consider

  • Irregular internet speeds – You may find that during peak usage hours of the day, your internet will slow.
  • Potential data caps – Select cable internet providers have data caps and may throttle your internet speed or charge additional fees when you go over your limit.
  • Fiber is a better option  – Cable internet is a good option, but it’s not the best option. Fiber internet has cable beat when it comes to cost, speed and reliability.

Is cable internet right for your home?

Cable internet is a popular option for many homes as providers typically offer a range of speed options and high data allowances to support streaming, gaming online and other internet activities on multiple devices. Along with numerous internet plan options, cable companies are also likely to have TV and phone options available as well, and often come with monthly savings when bundled together.

Cable internet is good for:

  • Speed options
  • Data allowance
  • Streaming
  • Gaming
  • Bundling
  • Video conferencing

Cable vs. DSL vs. fiber

Cable vs. DSL: While cable internet is integrated into the cable television infrastructure, DSL is integrated into the telephone line infrastructure. Both share similar availability, but a coaxial cable supports higher bandwidth than a telephone line, which gives cable internet a significant speed advantage over DSL internet. With greater speeds, you can stream and search the internet with multiple devices at a time.

Cable vs. fiber: Coaxial cables are more common and less expensive than fiber optic cables. This makes cable internet more widely-available and sometimes lower-priced than fiber optic internet service. Cable can also be more convenient as it is already installed in most homes, as opposed to fiber. While cable tends to provide faster internet speeds than DSL, fiber is known for providing faster and more reliable internet. One more thing to consider when comparing fiber vs. cable? Although fast, fiber only covers approximately 41% of the country. Cable, on the other hand, covers close to 90%.

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