What Are The Major Differences Between DSL Modems and Cable Modems?

We might not be aware of it, but we are always online.

Being online is not an option when most of our tasks and routines depend on it. Work, education, staying in touch, you name it. All come through the internet.

In the past years, technology has grown exponentially. In a short time, we’ve seen more scientific advances than in the last few decades combined.

What does this have to do with modems?

Modems are the fundamental pieces of the puzzle that is our internet network at home. These are the devices that allow our online status to continue when we’re home.

The artifacts we know as modems are the ones responsible for our internet, whether by cable or our ever-necessary Wifi.

So here are some fundamentals we should know about the little gadgets that make a considerable difference in our lives.

Modems know about us, we should know about them

Modems cannot possibly know us. But they are the ones in charge of receiving and sending off vital information.

Before we start comparing the two systems that make the internet a possibility, maybe we should dedicate some words to explaining what they are.

The word modem comes from the two actions – modulate and demodulate – that the device executes. They are in charge of translating a specific type of information into another.

Let us explain how the magic happens.

The modem takes information, known as digital data, and converts it into data that cables can transfer analog data.

You might be wondering what the difference between DSL and cable modems is. Let’s get to it then.

What Are DSL Modems And Cable Modems-dsl modems

DSL Modems

DSL modems are the big brothers of cable ones. They were born before them, after all.

DSL technology got discovered when researchers dedicated their time to investigating data transmission. They brought it into the world in the late ’80s.

These efforts had, in fact, started because of television demands. Not long after, they opened up the horizon to internet connectivity through those same cables.

The artifacts that could make internet-at-home a reality came to be within reach soon after that. The first version of DSL arrived in the houses of citizens in 1990.

And so, the dawn of home-based connectivity began and is still in use today.

The internet provided by the DSL modems depends on your home’s phone line. Because of how they function, the speed of the internet sets at a specific rate. The velocity of your connection will most likely depend on how close you are to the provider of the service.

Although a little older, these modems can provide more stable internet access because the connection is isolated. However, there are no ways to boost their velocity.

What Are DSL Modems And Cable Modems-cable modem

Cable Modems

Although faster than the previous, cable modems could be the analogy of a wreck at sea.

They came out a few years after the release of DSL modem technology. DSL modems function by communicating with providers through cable and deliver what we mostly know as broadband internet access.

These represent the space where users have to compete for speed while surfing the internet on a specific network.

If you’re a cable modem user, then the maximum achievable speed when connected will be an estimate of 20mbps. However, getting close to this peak means there is no one else on the same network.

Imagine you’re on a boat with limited supplies. If you’re all alone on this boat, then you’ll have all the supplies for yourself. The minute other people climb aboard, these supplies will split into equal parts.

What is the main difference between them?

These technologies are the ones that provide us with a gateway to the triple W. We can essentially find the distinction between these two systems in the devices and services they connect to.

The older DSL tech links itself to your phone services, and it relies on them as well.

On the other hand, we have DSL connections that link themselves to your cable box. You could think of them as an extra “topping” on your cable services.

Why should I know about modems?

Modems are probably one of the most relevant aspects of technology in our current time. Their hardware allows the dual transmission of digital data.

In other words, it makes it possible for us to connect to the internet wired or wirelessly in our homes.

The digital space is as important as the real world. It is, after all, an extension of it. Many foundational aspects of our day-to-day lives rely on this kind of connectivity; it is only logical for us to know about the way we relate to our world.


1. Is DSL or cable internet better?

If better means faster, then the answer is cable.

However, it can be a little bit more complicated than this. As explained, the internet through cable modems can be a lot faster in comparison to DSL services. But, experts advise DSL to be a safer and more stable alternative, given that it is individual.

2. Can I connect a DSL router to a cable modem?

The short answer is no.

DSL systems cannot work separately from your telephone line. Contrary to this, internet services through cable is a system that works as an add-on, an additional communication channel within your TV cable service.

If what you’re looking for is to recreate a wireless internet network (Wifi) for your home, then you will need a router to connect to your modem.

3. Is cable more reliable than DSL?

If you go back to what we said a little earlier, you’ll see that we’ve mentioned speed and reliability.

Because of the way they work, DSL and cable services have distinctive pros and cons. DSL cannot offer the speed cable services can. However, cable services are not individual while DSL is.

Knowing this, we can conclude that although cable internet is significantly faster than DSL, you’re not guaranteed to have the same speed throughout your connection.

Should I choose between cable and DSL modems?

What you’ve just read is a simplified introduction to understanding the differences between the two most known (and used) modem systems of internet connectivity at home.

We have listed the positive aspects that spring from the diverse connections to the internet. However, there is another factor to be taken into account.

A cable internet connection came to us almost a decade after DSL connection did. It means that many years of research and applied scientific knowledge went into developing this new system.

Just as evolution is, the more recent connectivity methods will prevail as favored over older ones. For these are, after all, the improvement and development of their ancestors.

Our Verdict

So that’s all for the difference between a DSL Modem & a Cable modem. Now, it’s upto you, which one you want to set up in your home or workspace. And yeah, DSL modems are faster compared to cable modems, so if you’re looking for something that boost your internet speed, then you should go with a DSL modem.

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