What is the difference between DSL and ADSL?

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) is a generic term that categorizes services provided over copper wire. DSL subscribers can receive high-speed Internet service and other services included in the DSL package. When a service provider or ISP offers Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), the customer will receive service that is not guaranteed to be the same speed in both directions.

An ADSL modem.

For example, many ISPs advertise their internet service with download and upload speed, 1 Mbps download and 256 Kbps upload (or something similar). These advertised speeds are rarely the same in both directions. That would be how ADSL worked, the upload and download speeds offered by the ISP to subscribers are different and thus affirmed.

ADSL has considerably faster download speeds than upload speeds.

DSL is more generic, implying any type of Digital Subscriber Line service, from ADSL where upload and download speeds are different, to symmetric digital subscriber line (SDSL) where upload and download speeds are the same. Service providers are introducing new methods of ADSL-style technologies, including tiered pricing that allow ISPs to charge higher fees for more bandwidth for downloading, uploading, or both. ADSL is a specific type of service sold to allow subscribers to connect to high-speed data networks. Most of the DSL service sold for residential access is ADSL.

DSL, no matter the flavor, has some huge benefits over the dial-up technology used in earlier phone lines. The biggest benefit of DSL, or the most seen, is the ability to use your phone to make or receive calls while connected to the Internet. With traditional dial-up service, this was not possible without using a second phone line. DSL achieves this by incorporating a filter into the phone jacks in a location that will have phones plugged into them. Signals on the wire below 4KHz are considered voice signals and anything above 4KHz is considered a data signal. The filter helps ensure that these signals never cross.

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One disadvantage of DSL is the proximity issue. The closer a subscriber lives to the telephone company’s central office (CO), the faster the DSL connection (ADSL or otherwise). Subscribers who live far from the CO but still within range of the DSL service (as determined by the telephone company) will have a slower Internet connection. People living outside the predetermined limit for DSL service will not be eligible for DSL and other means of high-speed access will be required.

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