DSL: A Basic Introduction

by Hannah Miller 16. September 2009 21:12

DSL is an acronym for “Digital Subscriber Line”, and is a type of broadband connection that typically uses the phone line to transmit information. It does not, however, inhibit the use of the telephone, like dial-up. The DSL connection and the telephone both use the lines at different frequencies and therefore go unnoticed by the other. DSL is usually a dedicated connection, so you can quickly access webpages at any time.

Telephone companies are usually the DSL provider, but sometimes other companies have an agreement with the local phone company, who provisions the user's line. DSL transfers data between the phone company's central office, the analog phone line, and a DSL modem. This is the same path dial-up, but DSL is able to use the telephone lines to full potential by eliminating the digital to analog to digital conversion that takes place with a dial-up connection. DSL is completely digital, and can therefore transmit more information and much faster.

Most DSL services work this way—through a land line phone. This type of DSL will not work on a VIOP or cable provided phone line. Dry-loop DSL is sometimes available and does not require an active phone service. New DSL customers must check with local phone companies and search online to find what kind of DSL service is available to them. They should also find out if 1, if it requires a land line phone, and 2, are there several providers to choose from. Once this information is obtained, there are a few additional factors that help make the decision on which plan is best:

Speeds available and needed: The possible connection speed for DSL is typically determined by the user's distance from the telephone company's central office. DSL is often not available at all to rural homes for this reason. DSL speeds usually range from .5 mbps to 6 mbps (megabits per second) in download speeds. Depending on the type of DSL, the upload speed can be equal to, but is usually less than the download speed. Typical Internet users will download more often than upload, so this is usually not a problem. Many factors can effect connection speeds, so sometimes the advertised speed is greater than the actual speed experienced by the user.

Even the slowest download speed on DSL most likely sufficient for normal web-surfing, email, and basic audio and video streaming. Higher speed plans may be necessary if the connection will be routed to other computers and wireless connections, or if the connection is needed for heavy usage and frequent downloads and uploads.

Price and other fees: Depending on the location of the individual and area competition, DSL can cost anywhere between $12-100 a month, as well as equipment and installation fees. The prices also differ depending on the download speed desired by the individual, and could be an introductory rate or include a contract. This is important to keep in mind. If two companies offer “DSL”, one at $14 a month and one at $24, the second might be double the speed as the other, and contractual requirements or eventual price increase on the “cheaper” plan could result in more expenses in the long run. DSL is rarely the same across the board.

The process of provisioning the DSL service to the telephone line and completing the set up usually takes several days, sometimes as much as two weeks. When new users order DSL service, they can expect several costs upfront, like buying a modem and other equipment. Some DSL providers will allow their customers to buy their own modem, but then will not be able to tech support it if it doesn't work. Those who want to use their wireless card on a second computer will need to buy a router, which is not always included in the DSL package. Many department stores and computer stores offer a variety of DSL modems and routers, so it may be helpful to shop around.


Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, Copper.net.

Copper.net is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at www.copper.net! Check out my blog for more articles! 

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About the author

Hannah Miller is an Online Marketing Representative for Copper.net - America's best provider for Dial-Up Internet Service since 1997.

Hannah has been a Customer Service and Tech Support agent for Copper.net since 2007, which has supplemented her knowledge of dial-up, computers, and the Internet. The entries that are posted in this blog are professional articles relating to our industry. Email your questions, suggestions, and other comments to hmiller@copper.net.

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