The ABCs of DSL
by James Capobianco
times my Internet connection is painfully slow. My computer is a Pentium
III at 600 MHz with a 56K modem. Off line I compute at lightning speed.
But on the Internet, I feel like I'm in s-l-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n.
Enter DSL. DSL, which stands
for Digital Subscriber Line, is a high speed connection to the Internet.
It uses standard copper phone
lines, but differs significantly from the traditional dial-up Internet
service many of us use in our homes.
Imagine your copper phone
line is a two lane highway. DSL uses one lane for your Internet connection
and the other lane for your fax or voice conversations. The neat thing
is you can do both at the same time. That is, talk on the phone and
surf the net simultaneously.
Scientifically speaking, DSL
enables data to travel down the "highway" at a higher frequency
than voice traffic.
The second major difference
between DSL and dial-up Internet access is with DSL your Internet connection
is "always on". Your modem does not have to dial into
the Internet, once your computer is on, your connection to the Internet
is on too.
Then there is the
DSL providers typically offer
a range of speeds, all of which are faster than a standard 56K
modem. Downloading a file from the Internet might take 15 to 30 minutes
using a 56K modem. The same file would take 24 to 48 seconds using DSL.
DSL comes in various "flavors",
with higher costs for higher speeds. The two most common being ADSL
(Asymmetric DSL), in which download speeds are faster than upload speeds,
and SDSL (symmetric DSL), in which uploading and downloading are equally
as fast. ADSL is best for small businesses. It's relatively cheap and
if you are not transferring lots of large files regularly, you don't
need fast upload speeds.
The final major consideration
is availability. DSL can't be delivered to every home because it
can't be pumped over long distances.
The rule of thumb is you must
be within about three miles of the phone company's central office. Most
DSL providers can figure this out for you. There are cases, however,
where the rule doesn't always apply. Your home may be close enough to
the phone company, but your telephone line takes too many twists and
turns and puts DSL out of reach.
For information on DSL, there
are several web sites, including http://www.dslreports.com
which provide lists of DSL providers, customer reviews, and answers
to frequently asked questions.
James Capobianco has been self-employed for over 25 years, both on and offline. At his web site, Cap-Tech.com,
he shares his experience and expertise when it comes to owning your own business. Come pay a visit at: