There are many ways to access the internet – dial-up, cable, DSL, fiber, and satellite. Depending on your area, there may be one or more choices. The most common form of internet in the world is DSL internet. 60% of households use this service. It's widespread due to the ease of set-up, and how any area that has wired telephone service can be updated to add DSL.
What is DSL?
DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. It uses a higher bandwidth on existing copper telephone lines and is easy to set up and easy to use. DSL comes in several versions based on upload and download speeds. It offers decent speed at a lower cost.
How Fast is DSL?
DSL internet offers download speeds between 5 and 35 Mbps. Upload speeds are generally in the 1 to 10 Mbps range. There are limitations to how fast internet can be delivered over telephone lines. DSL is considered high-speed internet compared to dial-up, but cable internet and fiber optics are much faster. Some of the business DSL services described below offer higher speeds. DSL will stream most videos, be enough for lower-end gaming, and probably work for most applications the average consumer might use.
What Do I Need to Hook Up DSL?
A DSL provider activates the signal on the higher bandwidth part of the telephone line coming into your house. From there, a DSL modem is installed. Sometimes a filter is added between the wall jack and the modem to cut interference between the phone line and the DSL service. This modem often has two connections – one for your telephone and one that hooks up to your computer. You can then use both internet and phone at the same time. You do not have to have active telephone service to connect DSL, just the jack in the wall and service available. When only the higher bandwidths are used for internet with no home phone service, it is called dry DSL.
Types of DSL
ADSL - Asymmetric DSL means the download speed is higher than the upload speed, allowing for faster downloads. This is the most common DSL Internet service available to residential customers. The rest of the DSL "flavors" are mostly for business applications.
SDSL - Symmetric DSL has download speeds and upload speeds at equal rates.
R-ADSL – Rate-Adaptive DSL is a robust business DSL line service and has the same rates as ADSL, but can dynamically adjust the speed of the connection depending on the length and quality of the telephone line.
HDSL – High Bit-Rate DSL is a symmetric connection where the rates range from 1.544 Mbps to 2.048 Mbps for a short distance.
IDSL – ISDN DSL provides transmission speeds up to 144 kbps over a distance of 18,000 feet, just like ISDN lines, but is always live.
VDSL – Very High Bit-Rate DSL is the highest speed DSL with download speeds of 13-52 Mbps and upload speeds of 1.5-2.3 Mbps at shorter distances. VDSL2 extends the distance.
Advantages of DSL
Price – While dial-up internet is the cheapest option available, DSL is probably the next most affordable option. With reasonable prices for monthly service and minimal cost for required equipment, DSL is a perfect choice for decent speed and reliability.
Reliable – DSL is a reliable option as long as the telephone lines are intact.
Easy Installation – With only a simple DSL modem and filter required, plus two or three cables to plug in, installation couldn't be much easier. Do-it-yourself kits are available, or a technician can come in and do it for you. Regardless of who hooks up the hardware, a provider is needed to turn on the service.
Availability – Often, there are very few choices in rural areas for internet connection. As mentioned, DSL uses telephone lines to deliver service, and most people have those lines already installed.
Does Not Tie Up Your Phone Lines – Unlike dial-up, DSL allows you to use your phone and internet connection at the same time. The modem installed in your wall jack separates the two signals, which allows both services to be on simultaneously.
Security – Unlike cable television, where an area might share bandwidth, DSL is dedicated to your use only. This adds a sense of privacy and security.
Disadvantages of DSL
Speed – While DSL is faster than dial-up, if your internet needs are gaming, streaming high-definition videos, or online conferencing, you will want to consider higher bandwidth options such as cable internet or fiber. DSL is capable of decent speeds and doing a speed test to ensure the provider is delivering what they promise is a good idea.
Effectiveness – At greater distances from the provider, DSL may lose efficiency and effectiveness. The good news is that DSL providers are widespread due to the popularity of this service. Additionally, if there are a lot of people using phone service, this may affect your internet signal.
DSL is a good choice for many. If you are upgrading from dial-up, you are going to notice a remarkable difference in service. If you are a heavy internet user, you might consider DSL a little slow, but manageable. As always, evaluate your budget, internet needs, and options in the area and decide if DSL is a good choice for your household.