September 13, 2014 Jessica Sims
Undressing the Top 5 DSL Myths… Literally!

Undressing the Top 5 DSL Myths… Literally!

All anyone talks about with broadband these days is Cable vs. Fios and Fios vs. Cable. But… what ever happened to good old-fashioned DSL? After all, the world of DSL is filled with intrigue and mystery, and… totally untrue rumors that have somehow become universally accepted as facts!

Well cheer up DSL, because today we’re coming to your defense and setting the record straight by addressing the top 5 DSL myths! Go DSL!

MYTH #1 – DSL Requires Land Line Telephone Service

FALSE! DSL no longer requires that subscribers also have land line telephone service. Qwest, Verizon, ATT and all of the other major players now are required to offer what is called “naked” DSL, which sounds racy but simply means DSL without local phone service (it is also called “dry-loop” or stand alone DSL).

This has always been the biggest knock against DSL, especially for cell phone users who don’t want home telephone service. Now it’s a 100% non-issue, you can get DSL service as a stand alone, just like you can with cable. Plus, when you order it, you get to say “I want NAKED DSL! Errr… please.”

Note that some companies do not heavily advertise naked DSL, so if you don’t see it on a providers’ website, just call and ask (Earthlink DSL advertises it here).

MYTH #2 – DSL Isn’t “Always On” Like a Cable Modem and Requires You To Log In Each Time You Use It (Like Dial-Up)

FALSE! In most cases, DSL is actually always on just like cable. There was a time, pre-2004, where DSL Internet access required a login sequence, but the vast majority of DSL providers now offer always on service through DSL.

MYTH #3 – Cable Speeds Blow DSL Away, ESPECIALLY If You Live Far Away From the DSL Provider

FALSE! There’s certainly a sprinkling of facts in this rumor, but they’ve been totally distorted and DSL’s reputation as a “Slowsky” (clever, Comcast) is not at all deserved.

When some snooty cable modem-type says something like “DSL speeds depend on the distance from the provider’s central office, while cable is fast all the time… blah blah blah”, it’s simply not accurate. DSL signals can and do diminish in strength over distances because the twisted copper wire used to carry DSL (and telephone) signals is vulnerable to data loss due to a phenomenon called attenuation.

But the distance between your home and the actual headquarters of your provider is not the distance that matters anymore. What does matter is the distance between you and what is called the DSLAM.

A DSLAM is a DSL user’s gateway to the ultra high-speed lines that form the Internet’s backbone. It’s a device that takes many DSL signals in a given area (from homes, offices, schools, etc.) and combines them into one signal that is then broadcasted over the high-speed Internet backbone lines.

At the inception of DSL in the early 2000’s, DSLAMs were located exclusively at telephone company offices. This meant that DSL users living more than a few miles away experienced slower connection speeds due to attenuation.

BUT, DSL providers quickly realized that if they deployed many remote DSLAMs near neighborhoods, schools, etc., they could reach TONS more customers. And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing since that time. Too bad nobody bothered to update the rumor!

If you live in a heavily populated suburban or urban area, there’s a very good chance that you now live quite close to a DSLAM. That means that your DSL speeds would be on par, or even FASTER than cable!

How does 7 M/bits per second download speeds sound? Who’s the Slowsky now, eh cable?

MYTH #4 – You Can’t Get Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Phone Service With DSL

FALSE! This one is just plain wrong and probably stems from a general misunderstanding of what VoIP really is. You can absolutely get Vonage or any other VoIP-based broadband phone service with a DSL connection. All broadband phone requires is a fast connection, and with naked DSL now available, you’re all set!

MYTH #5 – DSL Providers Want To Switch To Fiber Optics, So They Won’t Be Servicing Their DSL Infrastructure

FALSE! While Verizon (pretty much the only player in fiber internet currently) definitely has an incentive to push their Fios service to customers given the money they are investing in deploying fiber to homes, they are still actively marketing DSL. They realize that it will be a while before their Fios infrastructure is equal in breadth to their phone network, so many customers will not be able to get Fios anytime soon. And for many customers, DSL is quite fast enough.

Additionally, Verizon is just one of a number of DSL providers, all of whom will continue to dutifully service and upgrade their networks.

So don’t you worry about good old DSL! It’s a technology that still has and will continue to have legs.

2 comments on “Undressing the Top 5 DSL Myths… Literally!”

  1. MARK HOPPE says:

    Recently ordered DSL dry loop from DSLExtreme. After 2 orders with Verizon transport I have been told I can’t get DSL and Verizon has stated on 2 different calls that they can’t get a good signal for DSL, but that I can get their FIOS service. This smells. . .

    Should I file a complaint with the CPUC or do you have any other suggestions. I really can’t justify doing business with Verizon and I am just want DSL (not FIOS).

  2. Roger says:

    “How does 7 M/bits per second download speeds sound? Who’s the Slowsky now, eh cable?”

    Sounds pretty slow. My cable speed is 115 Mbits/s down/ 12 Mbits/s up.
    What sounds good for DSL is $40/month vs cable modem prices, though.

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