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DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Loop. It is a technology used to transmit and receive digital data over copper telephone lines. ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line is the modern version of DSL. Modern ADSL is being deployed to residential, business and nonprofits. ADLS can simultaneously transmit and receive internet data signals and POTS (Plain Old Telephone Signals). Copper telephone wires are installed in almost every home and businesses built since the late 1800’s.
The local phone company or Internet Service Provider (ISP) utilizes these copper wires to offer your home or business ADSL internet connections. ADSL is an always on connection. Speeds for ADSL are slower for upload than download. In the Puget Sound area, you might find ADSL speeds ranging from 20 Mbps download to 1-2 Mbps upload. These speeds are fast enough for streaming video and surfing the internet.
Modern DSL was invented by Joseph Lechleider while working at Bellcore (Bell Communications Research) in the 1980’s. Lechleider was considered an iconoclast in his field. For many years it was thought impossible to transmit high speed data over the simple two copper wires used for telephone lines. Lechleider proved in the 80’s that it was possible to transmit asymmetric bandwidth over DSL, which more than doubled its bandwidth. He did this by simply slowing down the uplink speeds, which reduced the crosstalk of the copper wires.
The push for DSL was due to slow deployment of Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) technology. Because of ISDN’s cost and slower speeds, the technology didn’t find its niche in the market place and failed. DSL grew in popularity with the invention of Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), High Bit-Rate Digital Subscriber Line (HDSL) and Rate Adaptive Digital Subscriber Line (RADSL). All these additional DSL technologies increased speed and performance of DSL.
DSL internet connects your business or home directly to the Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) Central Office or Data Center. This connection is made over copper wires and is called “the last mile” connection. Since DSL connects via copper wires at your home/office, internet speeds are limited. Many factors can degrade the internet signal over these copper wires, including distance, water, corrosion and other factors.
When determining the speeds of ADSL, the ISP will first measure the distance from your home or office to the ISP’s Central Office or Data Center. This distance measurement will dictate the speed of service the ISP can provide your address. Speeds for ADSL range from 20 Mbps to 8 Mbps overall. Upload speeds for ADSL are 2 Mbps. These speeds might vary depending on the distance and quality of copper wire to your address.
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A Bonded ADSL connection can double the speeds of your internet connection using ADSL. Bonding two or more ADSL lines together involves installing additional ADSL lines and an on-site device, “a bonder” to do the bonding. Each copper line in the bonded connection has its own modem. All the modems are connected to the bonder device. This method can greatly enhance the speeds of DSL. Bonding ADSL is not load balancing ADSL. Bonded ADSL is able to transmit data packets over more than one ADSL line simultaneously, making the speeds much faster.
Load-Balancing sends data signals down one ADSL line at a time and balances the load using a router. You must always contact the ISP to setup your bonded ADSL. You cannot simply order another ADSL line and bonded it without assistance from your ISP. Local ISP’s in the Puget Sound area offer Bonded ADSL.
Sending voice over DSL is a standard feature of ADSL. ADSL technology is designed to allow voice calling and internet connections simultaneously. ADSL can connect to standard landline phones, while connected to the internet connection. We often recommend ADSL to small business customers who only have one standard landline at their office plus a few computers. ADSL excels at reliable landline calling with advanced calling features. If you need telephone, you can request an optional bundled phone line when ordering ADSL internet.
If you are considering DSL for Voice Over IP (VoIP), DSL or ADSL technology is not the best fit. While it is possible to use ADSL, or even DSL to make VoIP phone calls, there are many limitations. VoIP calls may suffer call quality issues over ADSL. Upload speeds over ADSL are not sufficient to support real-time audio VoIP data. We do not recommend DSL or ADSL for VoIP calling.
The main disadvantage of DSL is the distance factor. Your connection speed is always limited to how far away your address is from the ISP central office. If you live in a rural area, DSL isn’t normally a fit due to the line distance. Copper line/phone line quality is also a disadvantage. Copper lines in the ground continue to age and providers are not properly upgrading these facilities. ISP’s continue to focus on installing Fiber Optic cables. These faster and more reliable Fiber Optic lines will soon replace all older copper lines, but this changeover is slow.
Cable internet DOCSIS technology continues evolve and advance, while legacy technologies like ADSL or ISDN continue to be replaced. Copper lines are a legacy and aging technology. We still need ADSL, but it will soon be a footnote in history just like the land line phone is becoming.
Puget Sound area alternatives to DSL or ADSL are Cable Internet, Fiber Optic Internet, or Ethernet Internet services. Cable Internet offers much higher speeds on both upload and download. Cable internet is a shared resource, which isn’t a positive. During peak hours, cable internet speeds start to slow as more users begin to utilize the cable internet connection. DSL or ADSL is a dedicated technology and will guarantee internet speeds consistently, regardless of peak periods. Satellite internet should only be seen as an option for rural internet users.
Satellite internet speeds are similar to DSL. Satellite companies place very low limits on the amount of data you can download monthly. Ethernet Internet is one of the latest technologies and could be considered the replacement for ADSL. Ethernet lines use the same copper lines as ADSL, but Ethernet connections can travel over Fiber Optic cables as well. We recommend using Ethernet Internet over DSL or ADSL if it’s available in your area. Contact ZOBOLT to learn more.