Broadband: ADSL vs Cable



Broadband is a type of high-speed internet connection that has surpassed dial-up as the standard way to connect to the internet. Broadband is most often in the form of ADSL, which means it is transmitted along BT phone lines, although there are also cable broadband connections.

ADSL broadband comes from your local telephone exchange, owned by BT, through a fixed line access network made out of copper wires.The information that you receive is a series of digital signals that come through the copper wires, these are then split into phone and the internet by a microfilter, a small, plastic box that plugs into the main BT socket.

The speed of ADSL broadband depends on your distance from the local telephone exchange. Signal weakens over distance, so the closer you are to your exchange, the higher the speed.

Cable broadband uses fibre-optic cables to transmit data. Unlike the copper wires of an ADSL connection, cables are partially made of a fibre-optic material, which allows for far less signal degradation and much faster broadband speeds. An  advantage of cable is that it also allows for the transmission of audio and visual signals. This is what allows you to get your landline and digital TV services from your cable broadband provider.

ADSL is available using BT phone lines and is accessible for more than 99% of the UK population, cable is less readily available and you must be in a cable-enabled area to gain access.

Nevertheless, cable broadband does have its downside too as it can often have speed bursts. While this won’t cause any problems for general downloading and browsing, it can be frustrating for users that need a constant connection. Cable broadband is usually tied into TV and phone deals as part of a bundled service from a cable provider. As a result, this will be more expensive.

Personally I use ADSL because fibre optic hasnt been fitted in our village yet. I would love to be able to get faster internet through fibre optic but until it becomes accessible ADSL will have to do.