Broadband is coming! Actually, most of us already know that
broadband has been around for quite a while, but now it's going mainstream. In our current FS poll we ask users "What internet connection are you using right now?" While 41% of respondents are still using 56k or slower analog modems, a whopping 59% are on faster connections: 25% Cable modem, 14% T1 or faster, 12% DSL, 7% ISDN, 1% Satellite. (In case you were wondering, the remaining 1% connect to the internet with "something else.")
Being first to market has helped cable take the majority of the growing broadband market, but DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is catching up fast. While cable modems offer users higher possible download speeds (30MB/s anyone?), the shared bandwidth nature of the service often results in much lower, and often erratic connection speeds. With cable, everyone on the same neighborhood node shares a single pipe, and a few bandwidth hogs can ruin connections for everyone else. DSL, the connection of choice for gamers, provides users with a good deal of bandwidth and a steady, dedicated connection. Having a dedicated connection is nice because if your neighbor starts up his warez FTP while you're playing HL Counter Strike, your ping won't spike like mad.
DSL does have its downsides, but it has nothing to do with the actual service. According to most people, DSL is great once you get it installed, but installation is where the trouble is. Since DSL uses the copper wiring already present in your home, you have to deal with your telephone company to get DSL installed, and the service isn't available to everyone yet. You have to be within about 12,000 feet of your telephone company's switching center and your line quality has to meet certain limits. Once your telco decides that your line passes muster, a technician has to install a splitter on your line to split the data and voice.
This installation service need on the customer side is one of the main reasons DSL isn't growing as fast as it could. Telephone companies can't get enough qualified technicians to install splitters fast enough. As a result, a DSL order may take weeks or months to get fulfilled, and you'll find that a few of the technicians out there are a little less than qualified and/or overworked.