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Talkin' Smack: DSL v. Cable Modem

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After the first two days, however, I have not been disconnected at all. I can't really explain it, but that's the way it is.

Which one do you choose?
Those of you trying to gauge your decision on this column will probably be a bit confused by now. Both cable and DSL seem to have problems, and all broadband providers seem to have lousy customer service. So which way do you go?

My advice is this: Get whichever one is cheaper right now. If one is offering free installation, definitely go with that. (Free installation is often available in fall.) Be prepared to change your service in one or two years. Changing your service is good because it means you get fresh equipment, and there's no way—simply no way—that either a cable provider or your DSL provider will supply you with new equipment just because you ask for it. You have to leave them and come back.

In my particular case, I got free installation (in the form of a rebate), which included a free DSL modem, free Ethernet card and free cables. They're mine to keep, and I don't have to pay a rental fee, as I did with my cable modem. On the other hand, if I need a second account, I'll have to switch to cable. A second account with a cable modem is about $7, depending on your provider. With DSL, you either have to get a five-account plan, or you have to pay something like $30 for a second account, again, depending on the provider.

So, as I say, go with whatever's cheapest. They're both about the same in terms of speed and cost, depending on your needs. The lesson here is that bad customer service leads to bad customers. And until broadband providers get their acts together, there's no reason at all to have any kind of loyalty to one or the other.

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, Digital Media Designer, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Plug-in Central, Presentation Master, and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.

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