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How does cable internet work?

Cable internet, much like cable TV service, uses coaxial cables to deliver electrical signals. A cable internet modem receives these signals and converts them into internet service, similar to how a cable TV box receives a signal and displays an image.

A coaxial cable supports higher bandwidth than telephone lines, which gives cable internet a significant speed advantage over DSL internet. Additionally, coaxial cables are more common and less expensive than fiber-optic cables. This makes cable internet more widely-available and sometimes lower-priced than fiber-optic internet service.

Cable internet provider details

ProviderMonthly starting price*Starting download speedsMax download speedsData capContract

Atlantic Broadband
$39.9950 Mbps1,000 MbpsNoneNone
Buckeye Broadband
Buckeye Broadband
$19.9925 Mbps1,000 Mbps250 GB/mo. or unlimitedNone
Cox
Cox Communications
$29.9910 Mbps940 Mbps1 TB/mo.One year
Mediacom
Mediacom
$19.9960 Mbps1,000 MbpsVaries by plan, up to 6 TB/mo.One year
Optimum
Optimum
$29.9920 Mbps940 MbpsNoneOne year
Shentel
Shentel
$40.0050 Mbps1,000 MbpsVaries by plan, unlimited options availableOne year
Sparklight
Sparklight
$39.00100 Mbps1,000 MbpsVaries by plan, up to 1.2 TB/mo.None
Spectrum
Spectrum
$49.9960 Mbps940 MbpsNoneNone
Suddenlink
Suddenlink
$34.99100 Mbps1,000 MbpsNoneOne year
Xfinity logo
Xfinity
$29.9915 Mbps2,000 Mbps1 TB/mo., unlimited options availableNone required

Pros and cons of cable internet

Cable internet is a common choice for home internet as it is widely available and delivers fast download speeds, but it may not be for everyone.

Advantages of cable internet

  • No home phone line is required to get cable internet
  • Cable internet offers speeds up to 10x faster or higher than DSL internet
  • Available to about 89% of U.S. residents

Disadvantages of cable internet

Best cable internet customer satisfaction ratings

While some cable internet providers — such as Xfinity, Cox and Optimum — managed to improve their American Customer Satisfaction Index scores over the years, others, including Spectrum and Suddenlink, experienced continued declines.

Provider2020 ACSI score2019 ACSI score2018 ACSI scoreAvg past 3 years
Xfinity66/10061/10060/10062.3/100
Optimum65646364
Spectrum63596060.7
Cox61605960
Mediacom59565356
Suddenlink57606159.3
David Anders David Anders
David Anders

Staff Writer

@allconnect

@allconnect

David joined the Allconnect team in 2017, specializing in broadband and TV providers. He is our transactional content lead and responsible for the most popular post in our Resource Center… Read more

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Cable internet frequently asked questions

Is ADSL or cable internet faster?

Cable internet supports higher bandwidth and faster speeds than ADSL internet. Cable internet plans vary by location, but cable internet can deliver more than 10x the speeds of DSL in select areas.

What kind of cable is used for internet?

Cable internet uses a coaxial cable, the same as cable TV service. Within the coaxial cable is a copper or copper-plated steel line which carries internet signals from a provider to a residence. Other cables used for internet include telephone lines and fiber-optic cables.

Do you need a phone line for cable internet?

No. Unlike DSL and dial-up internet, which require a phone line for service, cable internet uses a coaxial cable. Home phone services are available from most cable internet providers, but one is not required for internet service.

What is a good cable internet speed?

Cable internet is capable of delivering a wide speed spectrum. A good cable internet speed for most homes is 100 Mbps or higher, but a “good” speed depends on your needs.


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Moving or looking for a new deal? Let Allconnect help you find the right internet plan for your needs. Call now to start comparing providers, prices and speeds in your local area.

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