DSL Tops Cable Modems

As the debate over which technology will provide high-speed Internet access continues to rage, Keynote Systems set up a test where DSL and cable modems went head-to-head during peak usage evening hours. When the dust settled, DSL reigned victorious.

The month-long test consisted of more than 150,000 Web page downloads from 40 popular sites. The results showed that Web page downloads were much slower over cable modem than over T-1 connections and that cable modem performance deteriorated during peak evening usage hours.

The median download time over DSL for the 40 Web pages was 3.55 seconds in April, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Pacific time. The DSL results were nearly 11 percent faster than the median of 3.97 seconds over cable modem performance during the same period. Although cable modem outperformed DSL during business hours with a 3.68 second performance versus DSL’s 4.30 seconds, cable modem performance degraded by 8 percent during the evening hours while DSL improved 17 percent. Keynote also conducted the same performance measurements over four different T-1 connections, which performed 36 to 48 percent faster than DSL or cable modem.

The test was conducted in San Francisco throughout April over an asymmetric DSL (ADSL) connection to SBC’s Pacific Bell network and a cable modem connected to the @Home Network through a cable system operated by AT&T’s TCI unit, and over T-1 connections supplied by AboveNet, Exodus, Intermedia Communications’ Digex, and Savvis Communications.

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