The days of unreliable Internet connections, impatiently waiting for web pages to load, and waiting hours to download something from the Internet are quickly becoming obsolete. Dial-up Internet, which used to be the standard for those seeking Internet access, is rapidly being replaced by faster, more reliable Internet access technologies. One of those technologies, DSL Internet service, is one of the most popular and affordable options for the home Internet customer. There are things to be aware of though, if you are considering using DSL for your Internet access.
DSL, or digital subscriber line, is a form of broadband Internet technology, that has download speeds that span 128 Kbps (Kilobits per second) to 24,000 Kbps, depending on the level of service purchased by the customer and the particular DSL technology in use by the ISP (Internet service provider). The technology dates back to 1988, when engineers at Bellcore (formerly Bell Communications Research, Inc., now Tellcordia Technologies) developed a method of transmitting a digital signal along the unused frequency spectrum on the twisted pair cables that ran between the central office (in a phone company, the location that houses the equipment that connects phone calls) and customer locations. Using DSL allowed a regular telephone line to provide digital (Internet) service without getting in the way of existent telephone service on the line.
DSL did not take off immediately, because it was more profitable for local telephone companies to simply install a second phone line in a home in order to provide dial-up Internet service in addition to regular telephone service. However, when cable television companies began offering and implementing their new high-speed Internet technology (via cable modems) nearly a decade later, local telephone carriers jumped in with the competition and began offering up the DSL technology to customers. Today, DSL remains the primary competition for cable companies and their high-speed Internet technology.
Despite the more reliable connections and faster rates of data transmission, there are some potential drawbacks to be aware of regarding DSL Internet service. For starters, the farther your house is from the telephone company’s central office, the less bandwidth you will have access to. This means slower data transmission rates, and therefore might mean less enjoyment for things like online gaming, video viewing, and picture uploading. Some might not notice the slower capacity for things like email and other basic uses, though.
Another drawback to DSL is the potential cost. There is equipment to purchase, such as the modem and DSL router, plus there are sometimes installation fees. The good news is that competition drives service providers to often offer incentives and freebies for choosing their services, such as free self-installation, rebates for equipment purchases, and large amounts of mailbox storage. However, if you are not satisfied with your DSL service, you are often contractually obligated to them for a certain period of time, and will probably be required to pay a hefty fee for canceling early (up to $200 sometimes). Monthly prices for DSL Internet service range from $14.95 per month for basic DSL to upwards of $49.96 per month for more advanced versions of the technology.
Yet another drawback to DSL Internet service is that customers often see a slower connection than promised by the ISP. This is due to some service providers oversubscribing their service. Their often just isn’t enough bandwidth to go around. But ISP’s make the argument that all of their customers are never online at the same time. This can be particularly frustrating for businesses using DSL that rely heavily on the Internet for their daily dealings.
Don’t let the drawbacks keep you from exploring the possibility of DSL Internet service. As with any new technology, there are kinks, and ISP’s work on a regular basis to make service to their customers faster and more reliable. There are also many ISP’s that offer DSL for you to choose from, so the incentives and promotions for picking one over another can mean saving money and getting more extras. Though it can be frustrating and seem costly, DSL Internet service is still a more cost effective option than some of the other types of broadband Internet service, such as satellite Internet.