Primary Disadvantage of Cable Internet

By Nathan McGinty

Know what to look for when choosing a broadband provider.
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First introduced to the general public in the United States in 1997 and 1998, cable modem Internet connections gave home computer users a way to connect to the Internet at high speeds. As with shopping for any other type of appliance or service, savvy users want to know all the ins and outs before making a purchase. Cable modems do have one primary disadvantage when it comes to connection usage, but this may be outweighed by its advantages, even over other methods for connecting to the Internet.

How Cable Internet Works

Cable signals for an Internet are sent to your house over coaxial cable, the same type of cable that carries cable TV shows. In addition to the coaxial cable, you need two pieces of equipment: a cable modem at your end and a cable modem termination system (CMTS) at the cable company's end. In most locations the cable company strings together several coaxial connections from several houses or a neighborhood before hooking the coaxial signal up to a fiber optic trunk line.

Primary Disadvantage of Cable Internet

The primary disadvantage of cable Internet lies in the coaxial end of the connection. Because you are essentially on a network loop with the other residences in your area, you share bandwidth with your neighbors. Most of the time this may not be a problem, but during hours of peak Internet usage, you might notice your network speed slow considerably.

Other Disadvantages of Cable Internet

One of the other disadvantages of cable Internet is that it may not be offered in your area. This is mostly true in rural locations. Lack of choice is another disadvantage because only one cable company services a particular area. Cable companies also usually charge a connection fee and might also charge a monthly fee for the use of a cable modem.

Alternatives to Cable Internet

The major competitors with cable Internet include ADSL, satellite, dial-up and wireless broadband. As with cable Internet, each of these types has their advantages and disadvantages. Satellite, for example, is more available in remote areas, but connection speeds can sometimes be impacted by adverse weather, such as rain or snow. Wireless broadband is growing in usage, but this is typically only available in larger metropolitan areas.