DSL, Cable, or Fibre Optic internet access are the different broadband high speed internet options available for anyone these days, most especially in major urban cities around the world. For this blog post, I will be writing about what options are available for consumers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Ontario, Canada.
First off, let’s differentiate DSL, Cable and Fibre internet:
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)
A Digital Subscriber Line or DSL connection, uses the existing copper wire of your phone line to deliver high speed internet access. While not as fast as cable, this type of connection is incredibly faster than dial-up and suits the needs of most home users just fine. On top of being suitably fast, this type of connection also tends to be notably less expensive than cable, which is the main reason it has became such a popular option so quickly. One critical factor that will impact your decision on DSL is the distance between your home or office residence and the provider’s central office. The further you are from the main line, the weaker the signal, and the slower the connection. With that being said, DSL is not as widely available as cable so you will need to inquire with your local phone company regarding availability. (FiberforAll.org)
Though often confused with fibre, cable utilizes the coaxial cable that connects to your television set. In contrast to DSL, the quality of a cable connection does not depend on distance so your speed is guaranteed regardless. However, unlike DSL, which runs on a dedicated line, cable connections are typically shared amongst your neighbors, making it a slightly less secure option. As far as speed goes, cable access ranges from about 3 to 10 Mbps, which is essentially 3 to 4 times faster than DSL. Keeping in mind that this speed is reflected in the price, you should expect to pay a lot more for cable service. (FiberforAll.org)
Fibre optic offers many advantages over conventional copper cable lines. It is able to transmit data much faster over greater distances and because the cable is smaller in diameter and weighs less, it makes an ideal alternative for a wide variety of cabling solutions. Since the conductor is glass and cannot generate electricity, fiber is immune to all sorts of interference. This means that it can come in direct contact with high-voltage electrical equipment, power lines and lightning, all while still putting out a superior performance. Because fibre optic cables cost less to maintain, the price for service tends to be much less than cable and very competitive with DSL. The major downside to fibre is that service is only available in a few markets, so there is no guarantee that you will be able to find it. (FiberforAll.org)
Now that we’ve differentiated the three high speed internet options, let me list the various Internet Services Providers (ISPs) available in the GTA for residential customers:
- Beanfield Metroconnect
- CIK Telecom
- Start Communications
- Telnet Communications
- Toronto Free-Net
- ZiD Internet
Most of the ISPs on the above list are Third-Party Internet Access (TPIA) providers, meaning they are wholesale high-speed access (WHSA) resellers of the large major carriers such as Rogers, Bell, Cogeco, Shaw, who offer their own retail internet services to their own end-users. Several of these TPIA providers tend to offer cheaper rates than those of the major providers.
The above list only includes those that offer internet services to residential customers, but most of these ISPs also offer internet services to businesses. Take note that there are other available ISPs in the GTA, however they only cater to businesses, not residential.
Whether DSL, Cable, or Fibre, GTA residents have a lot of options to choose from for their internet service. The differentiating factors in making the decision to go with a certain ISP are pricing, speed, and customer support. Most of the internet speeds offered by the various ISPs are similar. However, advertised speeds are not always the same as actual speeds. I will be writing more on that in a future blog post, so stay tuned!
Who is your internet service provider and are you satisfied with them? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Kristina Alexanderson