During the day, cable modems can download Web pages faster than computers employing digital subscriber line technology. But at night--when personal Internet usage is at its peak--DSL beats cable modems for speed.
Those are the results of a monthlong test conducted by Keynote Systems, a San Mateo, Calif., company that measures Internet performance. Keynote timed more than 150,000 downloads from 40 popular Web sites in the San Francisco Bay Area using Pacific Bell's DSL offering and @Home's cable system. Keynote found the median download time using a DSL connection was 3.55 seconds at night (5 to 11 p.m.) and 4.3 seconds during the day (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) In contrast, the median download time using a cable modem was 3.97 seconds at night and 3.68 seconds during the day.
But both services were significantly slower than a T-1 connection, which can download a Web page in 2.36 seconds during the day and 1.83 seconds during peak usage hours, according to the Keynote tests.