Due to cable problems I got DSL to try it out for awhile. I now
have both cable and DSL. I have a WRT54G Linksys router for the cable
and WRT54GL for the DSL and separate pcs for each ‘network’. Since the
routers are almost identical I expected similar setup but was quite
surprised at the differences between cable and DSL. Cable was pretty
straightforward as I remember. Mostly it was plug it in and it worked.
The DSL was much more complicated and the ISP complicated that to no
end by forcing me to sign up for a lot more than the plain internet
access I wanted. Why is cable and DSL so different? Both modems output
an Ethernet connection, why isn’t connecting to both of them as simple
as ‘plug in your router and go’?
Most of the time it is or can be that simple.
But not all ISPs are created equal.
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It’s not so much that the cable and DSL technologies are different,
but that the different ISPs may have some other differences in
technology, and have different marketing goals.
The one technical aspect that could be different is
authentication, but this can also differ from one DSL provider to the
next, or one cable provider to the next. In many cases you can in fact
simply plug in and go, however some ISPs require that the connection
somehow be authenticated. That means you some how sign in to enable the
connection. Typically, that requires either configuring the router or
the modem or installing additional software on your PC.
that they indicate needs to be installed before plugging in your
connection. In my experience, nine times out of ten that’s simply not
Now, the mere presence of a CD full of software to be installed on
your PC doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the case – you may not
need to install anything.
Many ISPs will send you a CD full of software that they indicate
needs to be installed before plugging in your connection. In my
experience, nine times out of ten that’s simply not the case. I’ve
almost always been able to just plug in and go.
Some ISPs rely on that “do I need it or don’t I?” confusion to get
you to install software that you simply don’t need.
The bottom line is that it’s really up to the ISP, not the cable
versus DSL connection type, as to how complicated the setup and install
will be. The authentication technology that they choose to use can have
an required impact, but their marketing push to get you to install
additional software that may or may not be necessary can also play a
In my case, I almost always ignore the CD full of software until for
some reason something doesn’t work, and then I try to figure out the bare
minimum required to get the connection up and working. Sadly, as you
might expect, that too is ISP dependent.