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Cable beats DSL in speed race

Cable modems are 50 percent faster on average than DSL connections, according to a new study that also lists the companies offering the fastest access.

Cable modems are outpacing digital subscriber lines in terms of connection speeds, as household broadband access continues to increase, according to a study released Tuesday.

The number of Internet users accessing the Web through home broadband connections rose 9 percent between October 2002 and March 2003, according to Net measurement firm ComScore Networks. That brought the total percentage of broadband-connected households to 28 percent of all homes with Internet access.

However, despite signs of consumers' appetite for broadband, connections speeds vary depending on whether they use DSL or cable modems, according to ComScore. Individual service providers also showed differences in access speed.

The study said cable modems were 50 percent faster on average than DSL connections. According to data tabulated during February, Cablevision reportedly had the fastest connections, averaging 800kbps, or 13kbps above the industry average. Comcast came in second at 794kbps, Cox in third with 688kbps and Adelphia in last with 575kbps. Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable television network, was not included in the study.

DSL providers showed huge swings in performance. AT&T WorldNet averaged 762kbps, 63 percent faster than the industry average of 467kbps. SBC came in second with 584kbps, EarthLink in third with 369kbps and Qwest in fourth with 240kbps. Notable omissions from the study included Verizon and BellSouth.

According to ComScore, competition for broadband services will continue to intensify, leading to pricing pressure and greater importance placed on performance.