Qwest Vs. Comcast High Speed Internet

by Ma Wen Jie

Qwest and Comcast provide high speed Internet service. Although both services are very good for most consumer Internet access, there can be differences in speeds, service levels and performance that may affect your choice of providers. Once you have selected a provider, you have several options for Internet speeds with both companies.


Qwest and Comcast use different networking technologies and infrastructures. Qwest traditionally uses Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology, but has recently started offering fiber optic service to certain areas with DSL links to your home. By using fiber technology with a short copper bridge to your home, Qwest is able to offer much faster speeds than traditional DSL. Comcast uses coaxial cable technology to connect your home computer or network to the Internet.


According to Qwest's web site, several levels of standard DSL service are offered. A connection with 1.5 Mbps incoming bandwidth and 896 Kbps outgoing bandwidth costs $19.99 per month. A mid-level of service with 7 Mbps incoming and 896 Kbps outgoing is $25 per month. A 12 Mbps outgoing connection with 896 Kbps incoming is $35.00 per month. Qwest fiber optic connections start at $35 per month for a 12 Mbps incoming connection with 896 Kbps outgoing. A Qwest fiber connection with 20 Mbps incoming with 896 Kbps outgoing is $45.00 per month. Comcast's website offers an introductory service with 1 Mbps incoming and 384 Kbps outgoing for $24.95. There is a mid-level Comcast service with 12 Mbps incoming and 2 Mbps outgoing priced at $42.95. Comcast's highest speed service, 16 Mbps incoming with 2 Mbps outgoing, is $52.95. Qwest and Comcast have many special offers for new customers and customers who bundle Internet service with other service, so the actual price you pay may be lower. Qwest and Comcast offer home telephone service, and when that service is bundled with Internet service, the cost of the combined services are cheaper than if purchased separately. In addition, Qwest offers bundling discounts for people who subscribe to DirectTV satellite service and Verizon Wireless service through Qwest. Comcast offers bundling discounts for cable television services.

Geographical Considerations

Comcast high speed Internet is available in more areas than Qwest. Standard DSL requires that you live within a certain distance of the central telephone switch for your DSL connection. The farther you are from the switch, the lower the data throughput. Qwest fiber optic service is only available in areas where Qwest has installed a fiber link to the general area. Comcast service is available wherever Comcast offers cable television service. Qwest is available in 14 states, primarily in the West--Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa. Comcast is available in 39 states.


Because of differences in how cable and DSL based Internet service is structured, there is a difference in security for the two. With DSL service, you have a direct link to the switch. You do not share that link with other users. With Comcast and other cable Internet services, you share a link with other people in your area. This shared network is like a local area network. Although a router with a firewall is a good idea for both, it is doubly important for cable connections like those provided by Comcast. Without a router with a firewall, your computer is exposed to other nearby users of Comcast Internet service.


The two systems also differ in a few other ways. People who play online games often need low ping times, the time it takes for a packet to travel over the network to your computer. Lower ping times allow online game players to act more quickly. DSL, because of its architecture and direct connection to a switch, often offers faster ping times than a cable connection. Cable connections also do not offer consistent speeds because they are shared connections. If many people in your neighborhood are downloading large files at the same time, it saturates the cable system's bandwidth and you may notice a decrease in speed. DSL, on the other hand, offers consistent speeds to the switch. Both systems, however, can be adversely affected by area Internet traffic surges, and global and nationwide problems and outages.


About the Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.