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DSL, short for “Digital Subscriber Line”, is a method of transmitting data over copper telephone lines at speeds much higher than with traditional dial-up modems.
DSL is the most common broadband connection provided by telephone companies. DSL provides many advantages over traditional dial-up services, including significantly faster connection speeds and the ability to maintain a continuous connection to the Internet without tying up your phone line. In the early 2000’s, DSL was the most popular broadband technology; however, as cable and mobile technologies have gotten significantly faster, DSL has been largely unable to keep up.
DSL is sometimes referred to as ADSL, or Asymmetric DSL, because it provides higher speeds for downloading than uploading.
Frequently Asked Questions
How fast is DSL?
At the time of this writing, DSL speeds typically ranged from 0.5 megabytes per second (Mbps) to 15Mbps, while uploads ranged from 128 Kbps (0.128 Mbps) to 1Mbps. At those speeds, you could easily download a song or upload a photo in just a few seconds. By comparison, dial-up connections have a maximum upload and download rates of 56 Kpbs (0.056 Mbps…See why everyone is switching to broadband?), while many cable providers now offer download speeds up to and exceeding 100 Mbps. Of course, Internet providers are constantly improving technologies to increase their speeds, so this could all change at any time.
Why are download speeds so much faster than upload speeds?
Asymmetric technology (different speeds for downloads and uploads) is well suited to the Web, where much more data is sent from a server to your computer than you send to the server. As we increasingly use the Internet to stream music, view image-rich web pages, and watch television and movies, we are downloading massive amounts of information. While we may upload the occasional photo or cell phone video to our favorite social networking accounts, this requires fire lower speeds than most downloading. Remember, when you stream a movie over the Internet, it has to download fast enough for you to watch it in real time!
Why can’t I download as fast as my DSL provider claims?
There are many factors that could impact the actual speed of your DSL service. Line conditions play a big part in performance, both the lines coming to your home and your internal wiring. Remember, DSL works over existing copper wires, and many of those were installed decades ago. Telephone providers have been working hard to update these lines, but they may not have reached your area, or your home wiring may need to be updated in order to maximize your speed. Your connection speed will also vary based on your distance from your local exchange. The farther away you are, the slower your connection. And, of course, general Internet lag may play a part. Just because you can connect at blazing fast speeds doesn’t mean the sites you’re visiting can.