ADSL vs. Cable Modems
Both services are asymmetric
- Specifically intended for residential applications such as Web surfing
- Not intended for sites hosting servers and services
Reliability and service questions
- CATV providers have a poor service level reputation compared to telephone companies
- ADSL provisioning problems -- large number of "truck rolls"
The ADSL and cable modem services have a number of things in common. First, both are asymmetric, offering a higher downstream data rate than upstream data rate. They are both intended as residential services to support typical residential applications, such as Web surfing and e-mail. (They're also well-suited to downloading MP3 files and more but that's another story!) In particular, ADSL and cable modem providers do not particularly want customers to hook up publicly accessible servers via these connections and, in fact, the asymmetric nature of the services make them poorly suited to server hosting applications.
Second, both services suffer from a perception -- or reality -- of poor service. Cable TV companies have long been maligned because of unexpected and frequent service outages, interference from sunspots (a phenomenon occurring 93 million miles away!), and generally poor quality plant and switches. How many times have cable companies around the U.S. been sued or fined by local municipalities or public service departments because of lack of performance or non-compliance with tariffs? In fairness, as the cable industry has consolidated, they have greatly improved the plant, noticeably improving service and "community citizenship."
Telephone companies are a different story. The Bell system in the U.S. has a 125 year history and their network is so reliable that maintaining it is considered essential to national security. So now let's talk about ADSL. The rollout of ADSL service in the U.S.has been plagued with difficulties. In many areas of the U.S., telcos have found a fairly small percentage of their local loops capable of supporting ADSL. Even where it is available, horror stories abound where multiple service calls from the telco (a "truck roll") are needed for successful service installation.
Another thing in common is the generally high customer satisfaction with both services once they are successfully installed.