Cable Internet Access

Cable Internet access is an always on Internet access method that is available in areas that have digital cable television. Cable Internet access is attractive to many small businesses and home office users because it is both inexpensive and reliable. Most cable providers do not restrict how much use is made of the access. Connectivity is achieved by using a device called a cable modem; it has a coaxial connection for connecting to the provider's outlet and an Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) connection for connecting directly to a system or to a hub or switch.

Cable providers often supply a cable modem free of charge, although of course you are paying for the rental of the modem in a monthly service fee. Many cable providers offer free or low-cost installation of cable Internet service, which includes installing a network card in a PC. Some providers also do not charge for the network card. Cable Internet costs are comparable to DSL subscription.

Most cable modems supply a 10Mbps Ethernet connection for the home LAN, although you wouldn't expect the actual Internet connection to reach these speeds. The actual speed of the connection can vary somewhat depending on the utilization of the shared cable line in your area. In day-to-day application, data rates range from 1.5Mbps to 3Mbps.

One of the biggest disadvantages of cable access is cited (by DSL providers at least) as the fact that you share the available bandwidth with everyone else in your cable area. As a result, during peak times, performance of a cable link might be poorer than in low-use periods. In residential areas, busy times are evenings and weekends, and particularly right after school. In general, though, performance with cable systems is good, and in low-usage periods, it can be very fast.