Internet speeds have been steadily increasing over the past decade. In the early 2000s, cable and DSL providers offered the same speeds. Today, cable customers get 10 times the download and upload speeds of DSL customers, and the difference will only continue to grow over the coming years.
Cable Internet speeds continue to surge ahead, allowing subscribers to stream HD movies and play competitive online video games without experiencing latency issues. Future advances will continue to improve speeds while reducing network congestion.
Cable’s Unlimited Potential
Cable is not about to slow down anytime soon. Providers have been steadily upgrading their equipment to support the new DOCSIS 3.0 standard, which went into effect in 2006. Older DOCSIS 2.0 modems supported speeds of up to 38 Mbps. Although a few DSL customers have access to 40 Mbps service, those speeds are not available in most areas.
However, DOCSIS 3.0 cable Internet increased the maximum download speed from 38 Mbps to 152 Mbps. Most customers still receive speeds in the 20 to 50 Mbps range, but they can expect to see exponentially faster speeds by 2020.
DOCSIS 3.0 is hardly the fastest standard either. The proposed DOCSIS 3.1 standard promises a maximum download speed of 10 Gbps, which is about 200 times as fast as current cable connections. By comparison, Google’s Kansas City fiber-optic network only operates at 1 Gbps.
Ahead of the Content Curve
What exactly can Internet users do with a 50 Mbps connection? They can download a full HD 1080p movie in about an hour. They can upload entire albums of photos to their social media accounts within minutes. All of their family members can use the Internet at the same time without slowing down.
If the Internet is good enough for today’s tasks, why not stop here? The answer is quite simple. Internet connections that are fast enough today will not be fast enough next year. Cable providers are looking ahead to the future to constantly update their speeds.
In the future, Internet users will want to stream 4K resolution video, which has four times as many pixels as current 1080p video. Faster speeds will mean that they can transfer terabytes of data from one computer to another over their Internet connections. They will never have to wait for anything at all. The cable Internet of 2020 will be so much faster than today’s Internet that the change will dwarf the switch from dial-up to broadband.
Benefits of Cable
Cable Internet speeds benefit from a few inherent advantages over DSL. Cable subscribers receive the same speeds regardless of where they are located, so rural, suburban, and city subscribers enjoy the same great speeds.
Cable providers already maintain large networks. They can upgrade their equipment one neighborhood at a time without causing widespread service disruptions. Most network issues are easily resolved remotely, so service technicians don’t need to physically visit a location to fix equipment.
Unlike DSL, cable Internet speeds have room to grow. DSL is a dead-end technology, and it will quickly become obsolete as it falls further behind other Internet technologies. Internet users can future proof their service by switching to cable.
Most ISPs offer different tiers of cable Internet speeds. The slowest tier typically starts at 3 Mbps, which is sufficient for email, web, and office productivity tasks. Faster speeds cost slightly more but increase download speeds up to 50 Mbps.
Most users will want cable Internet speeds of at least 15 Mbps so they can stream TV shows and movies without dealing with buffering issues. At current rates, 20 Mbps services cost around $60 a month, but subscribers can upgrade to 30 Mbps for an extra $15 a month.
Cable subscribers may also be able to improve their speeds by upgrading their modems and routers. If users rent modems from their ISPs, they should check to see if their providers offer faster models than their current modems. While speeds will be capped to their current plans, they will still see an improvement by upgrading to DOCSIS 3.0 modems.
Users will also want to upgrade even if they own their modems instead of renting them. To connect new modems, they simply need to call their ISPs and provide them with their modem information. Each network should identify the new modems within minutes.
They can also improve their speeds by upgrading their old routers. If their routers are a few years old, they probably use the 802.11g standard, which caps speeds at 54 Mbps. Newer 802.11n routers support wireless speeds of up to 600 Mbps, and they’ll be able to take advantage of faster modems. Beyond faster speeds, newer modems and routers also offer better security features.
Cable Internet service is about to become much faster. Current Internet users will want to upgrade their equipment to support these new standards, and they don’t want to get left behind with slow DSL connections. The changes occurring today will prepare the world for a new generation of Internet speeds.