DSL Internet


DSL internet is the classic internet service that most people have in the home. DSL is carried over the telephone line and represents what is commonly known as Broadband internet. The abbreviation, “DSL” was originally coined to stand for “digital subscriber loop.” That term has changed over the years and DSL now means “digital subscriber line.” Another term that you will see very often in terms of internet service delivery is “ADSL.” This is probably the most important term to look out for when you want to sign up for Broadband – it means “asynchronous digital subscriber line.”

How Does DSL Internet Service Work?

DSL describes a method of delivering digital services over the telephone line. Everybody knows that telephone lines carry voice signals. However, you might not realize that sound has a wide spectrum. It is possible to send many different sounds down a telephone wire simultaneously and then filter out some of them according to the frequency of the sound. “Frequency” relates to the length of a sound wave. A standard wave has a repeating pattern, which is called a cycle. A long cycle length means fewer waves can travel during a time period. A shorter wavelength increases the frequency of signals. Frequency is measured in hertz, which expresses cycles per second. With a DSL connection, it is more realistic to talk in millions of hertz, which is called megahertz (MHz). A telephone customer who has signed up for DSL has to place a filter between the telephone socket and the telephone jack. This filter removes the digital signal frequencies, so all the caller hears is the voice signal. The soundwave spectrum is broken up into “channels.” These channels are actually ranges of frequencies and are termed as “bands.” The frequency range occupied by voice is called “baseband.” Before broadband was created, all home users had a dial-up modem. This took over the line, making it impossible for anyone to make phone calls while the internet connection was in place. This is because the digital signal was carried over the baseband frequency spectrum.

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What is DSL?

DSL splits the frequency spectrum carried over the telephone into a baseband for voice and broadband for the internet connection. The size of the range of frequencies given to a channel is called “bandwidth.” A larger bandwidth allocated to a function allows more data to pass simultaneously because more waves of slightly different frequencies can be carried simultaneously. The bandwidth allocated to data traffic is further subdivided into an upload band and a download band. Once internet services started being carried over telephone lines with DSL, technicians observed that the download channel experienced much more traffic than the upload channel. “Upload” means traffic traveling from the customer to the internet service provider and “download” refers to traffic traveling from the ISP to the user. When a user accesses a web page, a small request packet goes in the upload direction and that is replied with a large amount of data sent back to the requestor’s web browser through the download channel. If the data channel is equally divided for upload and download, the upload channel consistently has spare capacity and the download channel hits its full capacity, slowing down traffic. ADSL allocates a larger bandwidth to download than the bandwidth allocated to upload. This a practical solution to get the best performance out of the full bandwidth available on a telephone line. There are other types of DSL, such as VDSL, but ADSL is the most common.

Is DSL Internet Reliable?

Any fixed medium transmission system is more reliable than a wireless system. The telephone wires that carry the DSL service are well insulated against environmental interference and the equipment used in the telephone system is robust and well tested. The longstanding operators of the telephone network have got the DSL technology stable to create a very reliable internet service.

What is the Best DSL Internet?

ADSL is by far the best implementation of DSL, so much so that no carrier would offer a straight DSL service. Telephone operators offer high-grade DSL services to businesses, but these are very expensive and wouldn’t be of interest to the general public. Those higher DSL services are usually referred to as “ISDN,” which means “integrated services digital network.”

What is the Fastest DSL Internet?

The speed of sound wave transmission is measured in megahertz; data transmissions are measured as a bit rate. The bit rate is expressed as the number of bits that arrive per second. In internet services, this is expressed as millions of bits, or megabits per second, which is written as “Mbps.” When identifying the fastest DSL service, we are considering the rates available over the standard telephone line. However, most speed reporting services lump DSL, cable, and fiber-optic performance together under the heading of fixed Broadband. According to the Speedtest Global Index, the average US fixed Broadband speed is 124.39 Mbps. This is fast, but not the best performance available in the world. The USA’s Broadband speeds are currently the eighth fastest in the world. Singapore has the fastest average download speed in the world with 196.88 Mbps. Although the USA is not at the top of the league table, things could be worse – the average internet speed in Venezuela is only 3.5 Mbps.

Is DSL Internet a Good Option?

In terms of value for money, DSL internet is the best option you have. The performance of these services varies across the country, with better DSL speeds available in the big cities than in rural areas. Some remote areas of the country can’t get DSL because they are in locations that even the telephone lines do not reach. There are a few faster options available. However, they tend to be very expensive and out of the reach of the typical US family’s budget.

How Do I Get DSL Internet?

In order to get DSL, you need to have a telephone line leading to your home. Unless your home is a new construction, it is almost guaranteed that the line is already in place even if you don’t currently have a landline contract. The main hold up in your plan to get DSL is going to be your decision on which company to choose. Of all of the different internet delivery options, DSL is by far the most crowded market. There are a large number of companies vying for your business and each has a slightly different deal. Once you have signed up, the company just needs to make sure that your phone line is active and then your internet service can begin.

How Do I Install DSL Internet?

You don’t need a modem for your computer in order to get set up with your new DSL service. On the contrary, you need a filter plugged into the telephone sockets that you plug your home phone into. Most likely, you will want to have Wi-Fi in your home so that you don’t need to connect all of your computers and internet-active devices to the telephone system through a wire. In this case, you should connect your Wi-Fi router into the telephone socket.

Pros of DSL Internet

  • Availability – DSL is the most widely available internet access type because it is carried on the national telephone network, which was in place a long time before the internet was invented.
  • Competitiveness – There are more than 800 DSL service providers in the USA. You have more choice of provider in this internet category than with the other types of internet.
  • Ease of Installation – DSL does not require any special equipment. Filters are needed for telephones in the house, but these are usually mailed to customers by providers. Most computer operating systems have DSL connectivity software built in.
  • Ease of Use – DSL is always available so you don’t need to worry about turning it on and off. A home can get Wi-Fi through DSL by connecting a Wi-Fi router to the telephone socket.
  • Cost – DSL is cheaper than specialist media such as mobile wireless, satellite, or fiber-optic.

Cons of DSL Internet

  • Speeds – DSL doesn’t provide the fastest connections. Cable and fiber-optic are both faster.
  • Service Variability – Rural areas don’t get such good DSL service as urban areas.

Who Should Use DSL Internet?

DSL is a very good option for households. It might not be the best option for businesses. It particularly isn’t a good service for companies that run their own web servers. DSL is almost exclusively delivered as ADSL, which limits the amount of available upload bandwidth. Web companies need better upload speeds and capacity than ADSL can supply.


1. Is DSL good for streaming?

DSL, structured as ADSL is specifically designed to deliver video streaming and other download-intensive activities.

2. Is DSL good for gaming?

DSL speeds are adequate for typical home video game players. However, if you are a professional game player or run your own game server, you would be better looking into commercial ISDN services, which offer much more upload bandwidth.

3. Is DSL secure?

There is no specific security protocol integrated into the DSL system. However, all DSL service providers include a measure of security in order to enforce account statuses and prevent non-payers from accessing the service. Phone lines can be tapped. However, physical interference with phone lines is very rare. Despite this unlikely intrusion, DSL is far more secure than wireless systems. DSL users should deploy security software to prevent infection by malware and also create online privacy.

4. Is DSL faster than satellite internet?

DSL is much faster than satellite internet, which is probably the slowest internet delivery system available today.

5. Is DSL better than cable?

The performance of both DSL technology and cable internet services is highly variable. In both cases, the speeds available depend on the proximity to an exchange or access point. The age and quality of the medium deployed in both networks is also a big influence on which service is better. Some cable systems are run along fiber-optic, which makes them very fast, other cable systems are still running on decades-old coaxial cable that was laid when cable TV first became available – those services will be slower than DSL.

6. Is DSL better than fiber internet?

Fiber-optic is the best medium for high-speed internet and trounces the speeds available with DSL. However, it is expensive, so it might be better to compromise on fast speeds in order to get an affordable service.

7. Is DSL better than wireless?

Being a fixed medium, DSL suffers less data loss in transmission than mobile LTE systems or fixed wireless services to homes. Wireless transmissions are vulnerable to interference and signal blocking by intermediate structures. DSL internet is also cheaper than wireless options.

8. Average cost of DSL internet plans?

The cost of DSL depends on the bitrate offered. So, the average price is influenced by the popularity of each package’s speed. Generally, standard DSL packages offer between 5 and 45 Mbps download speed and costs between $40 and $80. This is cheaper than fiber-optic, cable, and satellite internet services.

9. What is the cheapest DSL internet?

None of the DSL providers, such as AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink post a national rate for the USA and subscription prices vary from zip code to zip code. This situation is further complicated by the plans offered by each provider. The lowest price offered by one service might be cheaper than the price of another but give a slower connection. Some companies shift charges into hidden extras to get their headline rate low. Another problem lies with introductory offers. These can bring the price of one service lower than anther, but ramp up to a higher rate than competitors once the initial offer period ends. Add onto the landscape periodic promotional offers, undercutting by small, regional competitors, and specialist services with stripped-down or bundled services and it is impossible to identify an evergreen, definitive lowest price in the industry.

Getting Online

The process of choosing between internet providers and service plans is complicated. However, you need to set your priorities before you start looking. Do you have a maximum budget? Are faster speeds important regardless of cost? Answering these two questions will help you to quickly decide on the right provider and plan and let you get online.