Cable Internet ServiceAbout Cable Internet Service
Cable high speed internet availability usually coincides with the availability of cable TV service. Cable internet providers use the same lines used to provide cable TV service.
Depending on the subscriber plan and the technology used by the provider, cable internet speeds range from 3-2000 MBps (Megabytes per second). While that's a pretty wide range of speeds, the most typical offerings by cable providers are in the 50-100 Mbps range. Internet traffic and computer hardware limitations often prevent subscribers from reaching the maximum advertised speeds. Uploads speeds are usually throttled back by the cable internet provider to about twenty percent of the maximum download speed in order to prevent customers from running high load servers or file sharing over their internet service.
Ultrafast gigabit and fiber-optic internet services are generally only available in major centers where equipment and infrastructure upgrades are more practical. We discuss those services in a separate article here: Gigabit and Fiber Optic Internet Service.
Cable internet can be installed using existing cable TV jacks, but the technician will typically install a new jack near your primary computer or primary TV. Your cable internet provider's "modem" connects to your cable jack and to your computer using an Ethernet or USB cable. Many companies now offer all-in-one devices that act as a wireless home networking access points and cable tv boxes.
Generally $40.00 to $50.00 per month. High performance plans may cost $100-$200 per month or more. Many cable internet providers are now offering introductory pricing between $30.00 and $40.00 for up to 12 months. Some cable internet providers will ask you to buy the equipment (cable modem and ethernet card, if necessary). Some will ask you to rent it. Some will simply give it to you (returned to them if you cancel). Some cable internet providers offer to buy back the equipment if you cancel - some do not. Confused yet? Be sure to ask the provider when you call or read the fine print when applying online.
Many companies are now offering a "Lite" cheap cable internet in the $20.00- $30.00 range. It is slower than regular broadband internet and "full" cable internet. "Lite" plans are generally not fast enough for video streaming or online gaming, but good enough for e-mail and internet access.
Most companies offer discounts on high speed internet service when the customer is subscribed to a bundle of services including digital television and phone services.
Many companies apply data limits to their plans. These typically range from 100GB to 1TB per month. Overage fees will generally apply when the cap is exceeded. Unlimited data or increased caps may be available for a fee. If you plan to use streaming video services heavily, you may want to find an unlimited or high limit plan.
Lastly, cable internet performance is dependent on a "clean signal" from the broadband provider. If the signal is weak or distorted, broadband performance will be reduced or it simply will not work. The signal can be weakened by bad grounding or the addition of line splitters used to accommodate additional jacks. Be sure that the technician does not leave before confirming good signal strength that will allow you to add more equipment (a TV, for example) without hindering cable internet performance. If necessary the cable internet provider's technician can run a new clean cable line into your house.
Be sure to evaluate all options before choosing a high speed internet provider.