From cable to internet: what changed?

Communication and data transmission technologies have rapidly changed over the years. In the last few decades, the amount of data we consume on a daily basis have increased exponentially.  The way we send and receive those data has also drastically changed and people can now get access either through a telephone- DSL or television-cable to internet connection. Aside from cable and DSL internet, newer technologies such as fiber optic internet have also now become available.  As of the moment, the most common method for people to get online is either through cable or DSL. The two methods take advantage of the existing telephone and cable networks that are already in place in major cities and towns across the United States. These networks were put in place way before the advent of the internet. Having these well-established networks of telephone and cable lines essentially means that internet service providers won’t have any problems reaching neighborhoods and areas within and around major cities in the United States. As long as there is a telephone line or a cable connection near a residence or place of business, an internet connection can be installed.

From dial-up to DSL

Over the past couple of years, the most common form of residential internet connection was DSL. DSL, which stands for Digital Subscriber Line, is an evolution of dial-up internet. The relatively more advanced form of data communication uses a sophisticated modulation scheme to send and receive data using copper wires. Unlike dial-up internet, DSL is an always-on connection that uses existing 2-wire copper telephone lines that will not tie-up a telephone line when the internet is in use. Because this form of connection is “always on,” there is now no more need to dial in to an internet service provider to get access to the internet. A vast majority of people living in and around major cities in the United States will likely have access to DSL. DSL internet speeds are somewhat slower than cable internet, but with improved technology, modern DSL lines have managed to catch up with cable internet in terms of their maximum speeds. Most packages being offered by the various internet service providers will include internet connection speeds of anywhere from 3 megabits per second to 10 megabits per second. DSL is also relatively cheaper than cable, satellite, and fiber optic internet connections in most cases, but prices will of course vary between the different internet service providers. DSL subscription prices were quite high just a few years ago, but it eventually dropped down when cable internet started to become more available. Unlike cable to internet subscriptions, DSL is a dedicated line that is not shared with anyone else. DSL is generally much more consistent when it comes to its maximum speeds.  Cable internet is based on a shared bandwidth that is connected to several users in a given neighborhood. While a cable internet connection may have relatively higher maximum speeds, its speeds can actually fluctuate depending on the number of subscribers on the network. Another big advantage of DSL internet is that service providers do often include a basic residential telephone line as part of the package. Depending on the type of plan that is acquired, some DSL internet service providers may include a residential telephone line with unlimited nationwide calls.

DSL to cable internet

Similar to DSL, cable to internet is achieved through the use of existing cable television networks over coaxial cable lines. With most homes and buildings in the United States already having coaxial cables lines routed into them, installing a cable internet connection is essentially a very straightforward task. Cable internet transmits data using the television channel space. Certain channels are used for upstream transmissions while other separate channels are used for downstream transmissions. Compared to the copper wires used in telephone lines, coaxial cable lines can support greater bandwidths. This means that cable internet is relatively much faster than DSL. Coaxial cable lines can also support more users at any given time. Cable internet plans usually includes an internet connections with speeds that range from 10 megabits per second to 100 megabits per second. This is of course depended on the internet service provider and the location.

Since cable television lines are already being routed in the customer’s home or business establishment, most cable internet service providers do offer basic cable television as part of their packages. Some companies even offer comprehensive plans with various add-ons that will include cable television packages with hundreds of channels from various networks. Those who prefer to consume their video content on their television screens can opt to get these higher tier packages that will include HD channels and channels from foreign networks. Additionally, some cable internet companies do offer all-in-one packages, which will include an internet connection, cable television service, and a residential telephone line. Getting one of these packages may be a good option for most families seeing as that they will be getting all of these necessary services from just one provider.

Additionally, in today’s highly competitive broadband internet market, internet service providers will often offer customers limited onetime deals for their bundle options. These “surf and watch” bundles are often much cheaper than the getting the same internet connection outside of the promotion. Price discounts will of course vary from the different internet service providers, but generally these cable to internet television packages offer much more value for money.

Evolution of cable internet

While most DSL internet companies have started to shift their technologies into fiber optics, cable internet companies have mostly decided to pursue a different approach. A majority of the cable internet companies in the United States have started to upgrade their systems to utilize Hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) technology. The relatively new broadband network is becoming quite common in the telecommunications industry as it does provide the best features of both cable and fiber optics technology. A hybrid fiber-coaxial cable system utilizes fiber optic cables to send television channels and internet signals from the cable company’s distribution facility to local communities. The signals coming from the optical fiber subscriber lines are then processed by a box called an optical node. The light beams are then translated into radio frequency signals that are then sent over to residences and businesses through standard coaxial cable lines. Through this system, higher bandwidth capacities are achieved. This translates to even higher internet speeds that almost reach gigabit levels. Through the use of the hybrid system, internet service providers can provide customers with higher internet speeds while also keeping their costs low as the technology is, in fact, high economical. The unified fiber optic and coaxial cable-based transmission mode are capable of delivering voice, cable television, internet, and other digital interactive services and solutions to residents and businesses. Cable internet plans that utilize this technology often come with internet connections that reach speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second.

As previously mentioned, cable internet speeds are totally dependent on a number of factors including the number of subscribers sharing the same cable connection. Even with the use of hybrid fiber-coaxial technology, cable internet speeds for some users can still slow down significantly during the peak-usage time. Reputable cable internet providers do usually expand their networks to combat this problem. However, most companies do still impose a strict data capping policy for most of their residential accounts. The standard data capping rate for most providers in the United States is usually 1 terabyte of data per user per month. This amount of data will probably be more than sufficient for most users who typically use their internet connections for light to medium online tasks. These tasks may include light internet browsing, standard definition video streaming, and web-based online gaming.

Unfortunately, heavy online users may find that 1 terabyte of data is simply not enough for their activities. Those who like to stream HD videos all day or those who play heavy graphics-intensive online games for hours on end will find that the data allocation will probably not last for an entire month. If a user exceeds his or her allocated monthly data limit, the internet connection itself will be throttled down. Speeds could go down to as low as 1 to 3 megabits per second. These speeds may be sufficient to allow users to check their email or social media accounts, but it may not be possible to watch online videos anymore. The internet speed is fortunately reverted back to its original rate once the billing cycle rolls over. Some internet service providers to offer internet connection without any data caps, but these are typically much more expensive than basic internet plans. Another thing to look out for before getting an internet connection is to check whether the provider is requiring a fixed lock-in period. Most companies typically offer their services with a one or two-year contract. These contracts basically prohibit customers from prematurely terminating their connections before the lock-in period ends. Those who will end their contracts before the lock-in period will be liable to pay a fixed early termination fee. Fortunately, some companies do offer transfer promos wherein they will shoulder the early termination fee for customers who want to switch to their service instead.  Head on to to know more about this deal!

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28 Oct 2018

By XYZies