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Presented by Persimmon Telecommunications                                                                              Updated: September 24, 2022

Comparison of Cable, DSL, T1, and Fiber Broadband Internet Access Options

Pros and Cons of Cable, DSL, T1, and Fiber Internet Access!

High speed internet access is possible via cable, DSL, T1, and Fiber. To see which are available at your location(s), visit Business Cable, DSL, T1, and Fiber Price Quotes for reliable data connections most of which include guaranteed bandwidth. Many cable, DSL, and satellite services offer bandwidth up to a specified value which is not guaranteed.

T1, DS3, OCx and Dedicated fiber services offer guaranteed bandwith; i.e., they include a SLA. It used to be that, for a highly reliable, quality connection, businesses would choose one of these. However, in many locations, but not all, cable is now more reliable than it has been historically. Also, shared fiber;e.g., FiOS, as opposed to dedicated fiber is pretty good in many locations. Although shared fiber and cable are not as good as dedicated service, many businesses combine 2 diverse circuits using SD-WAN to obtain a connection that has reliability and quality at least as good as that of dedicated fiber or T1 service. Relatively inexpensive circuits that can be combined to give diversity for high quality and reliability include cable, DSL, microwave, cellular, satellite, and shared fiber.

Below is more detail on each circuit type.


Internet service via cable is provided by your cable TV company on the same type of cable that is used for cable TV. Advertised speeds vary depending on your location. Generally, higher speeds are provided to business accounts; however, like with residential accounts, the speed (bandwidth) is not guaranteed to be available at all times because it's a shared service. It is shared with your neighbors. If your neighbors are using the internet heavily, the bandwidth available to you could be radically reduced and the latency of the service could be increased. The situation is similar with shared fiber services. However, some cable companies offer fixed bandwidth to businesses, and most work at keeping the bandwidth from dropping precipitously.

In the past, many businesses used cable Internet service as a backup to their primary Internet service. As cable Internet service has become more reliable and as the bandwidth has been increasing, some businesses now use cable Internet as their primary service with lower bandwidth fiber, T1 Internet service or Ethernet over Copper Internet service as the backup. This latter approach can make sense financially for businesses that are comfortable with a lower bandwidth on their backup Internet access than on their primary Internet access. However, the best approach for most businesses that are critically dependent on their internet or network connections is often SD-WAN. SD-WAN can make such a combined network very reliable. In fact, cable as a primary circuit with satellite and/or cell service as the backup or secondary can work very well using a SD-WAN approach. Contact us for details as to how SD-WAN can provide a great solution for your specific needs.

Nowadays, most US cable companies provide public WiFi Internet access at locations that purchase cable Internet access. This public service is typically additional bandwidth over what the customer purchases.

If your cable company offers a free trial or an attractive price for a month-to-month service, it may be worthwhile to try it even on shared services to see if the available bandwidth meets your needs. However, at any time, a neighbor, who has not done so before, may start using cable Internet access in such a way that interferes with you in an unacceptable manner. If this happens, there is a possibility that you could convince your cable company to provide another circuit into your neighborhood. Cable operators do give priority to business cable internet access over residential cable internet access.

There are times when cable Internet service goes down, and when it goes down it can be down for hours or even days at a time. Most cable companies are pretty good about restoring service in a timely manner, however, there is no Federal mandate as there has been for years for T1 service.

If you plan to use VoIP phone service (aka Broadband phone service), note that there are cable customers using VoIP. However, cable systems do not always provide the quality required for VoIP and neighbors, competing for bandwidth, might wreck havoc with the quality of your VoIP service. Even if you have plenty of bandwidth, voice quality can be degraded cause of high packet loss or latency neither of which has any SLA on most cable services. One of our VoIP customers had an interesting experience with cable Internet Access. She was on the second floor of a Manhattan highrise. Sometimes the person at the other end of a VoIP conversation could not hear her or her voice was very weak. She had the cable company investigate: they determined that the cable signal at her modem was too strong, they turned down the signal strength, and the problem was fixed. A week later the problem returned. When the signal strength was turned down, cable customers on the upper floors of the highrise building had too weak a signal and so the cable company had to turn the signal strength up. She eventualy solved the problem by moving - the VoIP service allowed her to take her Manhattan number with her to another state.

While most areas of the USA can obtain data and voice services from a variety of Telcos, there is usually at most only one cable company that can provide service to any specific location. The cable companies all offer services that are similar to those offered by other cable companies; however, there are some differences that we can help you understand. The largest cable company is Comcast. For more info on the services that they offer, got to Comcast Business Services. For any locations where cable is available, get Business Cable Internet Access Price quotes

DSL - Digital Subscriber Line

DSL is a family of technologies provided via twisted wires, the same wires used for traditional phone service. In fact, some DSL providers require that you have a normal phone number and service with them. However, some DSL providers do provide "Naked DSL or "Dry Loop DSL"; that is, DSL without the requirement of the customer buying normal phone service from the same provider. Typically, available DSL bandwidth is less than available cable bandwidths so, if cable is available at a location, you probably will want to use cable before DSL. However, DSL connected to your other circuit(s) using SD-WAN logic could help build a solid service.

As with cable, advertised speeds vary with location; one reason for the variation in speeds is the distance to the phone company central office. The speed (bandwidth) is generally stable over time but it can be much less than the published speed. Like with cable offerings, your DSL might be specified as; e.g., "up to 15 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up". Depending on the length and condition of the twisted pair running from your location to the central office, you may only be able to get much less down. However, whatever speed you see initially, you will usually see most of the time. However, there is sharing with other users at the Central Office and between the Central Office and other network nodes, so your speed can vary. SDSL (Synchronous DSL) is a business class DSL that has a higher priority than residential DSL or ADSL (Asynchronous DSL). SDSL is less oversubscribed than ADSL and is subject to fewer bandwidth degradations. The point is that DSL speeds can vary but normally the bandwidth variation on a DSL circuit is small compared to the variation on a cable circuit. However, there are exceptions. For example, I know of an instance when more or less the same time every day, DSL service seemed to disappear completely. This is unusual.

DSL goes down sometimes and it's not unusual for it to be down for hours at a time. Some locations have more reliable DSL service than others. For example, if the service is provided via overhead lines, it is more likely to go down than if it is provided by lines that run completely underground. Business DSL which costs more than residential DSL is generally more reliable than residential DSL.

Generally, VoIP phone service (aka Broadband phone service) works very well over DSL lines. If there are problems, it's probably because your computers that are sharing the DSL with your VoIP phones are competing for the available bandwidth. This can sometimes be cured by programing your router for Quality of Service giving a guaranteed bandwidth to VoIP.

As Cable Internet service reaches higher bandwidths and higher reliability, and T1 and Ethernet over Copper services become less expensive, DSL is losing popularity.

T1 Internet Service

For guaranteed high-speed Internet Access, T1 access had been the standard for many years. Although a standard T1 is only 1.5 Mbps, you can obtain higher bandwidth by going to bonded T1s or a T3 (a T3 is 28 T1s). However, you will pay significantly more for a T1 than for DSL or Cable - prices average $180 to $600 for a full T1 depending on your location. Out in the country, you can see up to $750 or so while in some "sweet spots" you can beat these prices. Although T1 service is provided over twisted pair wires as is DSL, it is a more reliable technology. With dedicated T1 service you get close to the published bandwidth when it is provided by a tier 1 carrier. There is some overhead but there is no sharing on a dedicated T1. However, as business needs for higher bandwidths has grown, dedicated fiber, which has the reliability of T1 service, has replaced it since the cost per Mbps is much lower. Except that, in some rural areas, neither fiber nor cable are available so that T1 service can be highly desirable perhaps in combination with diverse circuits like satellite or cellular using SD-WAN.

To comprehend T1 reliability, note that on the average, T1 service is down only 15 minutes in a year! If there is a major outage, for example, caused by a storm or other disaster, the carriers are required by law to fix T1 service first then they work on other services like DSL and POTs service. As an example, during some hurricanes, T1 and DS3 services are typically restored in hours or perhaps a day while DSL and POTs service might only be restored after days or weeks. For a business or other organization that does not want to take the risk of possibly having an extended outage, T1 service is often considered to be well worth the cost.

Of course, T1 service is a very good platform for VoIP phone service.

Ethernet over Copper

Ethernet, Ethernet over Copper (EoC), Ethernet over DS1 (EoDS1), and Ethernet over DS3 are preferred by some businesses over T1 or DS3 services since they provide similar reliability as cable service and the cost per megabit of bandwidth is usually much less than for T1 or DS3 service. These Ethernet services are not as widely available as T1 service.

Ethernet over Fiber

Fast Ethernet (Fast-E) and GigE (Gigabit Ethernet) are delivered over fiber. Although more expensive than other services, Fiber Ethernet is more desirable than cable, T1, DS3, and Ethernet over Copper services since it provides better reliability and the cost per megabit of bandwidth is usually much less than for T1 or DS3 service. Fiber Ethernet usually starts at a minimum bandwidth of 5 M or 10 M and is available at some locations up to 100 G or more. Fast Ethernet and GigE Internet services are quickly becoming as widely available as T1 service; however, there is typically a longer installation time for fiber. Do not confuse shared fiber services (e.g. Verizon FiOS or AT&T Business Fiber, as opposed to AT&T Dedicated Internet) with the fiber services discussed in the previous portion of this paragraph.

Satellite Internet Service

Because of the latency and limited throughput allowed on satellite internet service, in the past, it was mainly only used at remote locations where there were not sufficient other choices. However, in recent years satellite technology has improved to where bandwidths are higher and more consistent so that it has become a more reliable service that is sometimes used as a primary circuit. LEO satellites are being placed in orbits that offer way less latency than the geostationary satellites that have been the mainstay of satellite communications in the past. Traditionally, Satellite Internet Service has been used as a diverse backup to terrestrial circuits. If you would like more info, Contact us. Another disadvantage of many Satellite Internet services is that some have throughput limitations;i.e., for any specific bandwidth, you pay more as your usage increases.

More Info and Quotes on Business Internet Access & Network Service
To see a chart comparison, see Internet Access Comparison Chart. If you would like more info on dedicated services, or would like to see pricing for your location(s), see the following sites:

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T-1 -
DS3, T3, OC3 -
Ethernet -

Obtain Real-Time quotes for your Dedicated Internet service requirements.

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