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What is ADSL broadband and how does it compare?


In this article we will give you a broad overview of what ADSL broadband is, how it works, and how it compares to other types of broadband. 

What is ADSL broadband?

ADSL broadband is a high-speed internet connection. ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line and works by taking advantage of the high-frequency band on telephone lines already in place. This high frequency band used for voice signals is not as crowded since there are fewer users, whereas lower frequencies are much more crowded which means speeds are slower. To be able to transmit internet signals over these existing phone lines ADSL connections use special filters called DSL splitters that separate out the lower and higher frequencies into two channels, voice and internet signal respectively. The ADSL modem receives signals from the computer and transmits them over the phone line, while it receives incoming internet data from the UK's landline infrastructure and sends them to the computer. ADSL modems also include special software that can change how much information is transmitted at a time which makes for better traffic management and control on the system.

What is ADSL 2+? 

ADSL 2+ is a new and improved version of ADSL broadband. It is the successor to: ADSL, ADSL 2 and SDSL (Synchronous Digital Subscriber Line). It is faster than previous versions of DSL thanks to its greater spectrum capacity. What does this mean you might ask? When compared to other forms of broadband, your service will deliver faster speeds.

What are the main benefits of connecting with ADSL2+? 

There are many advantages that come with connecting through an ADSL 2+ modem/router. These include: 

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  • Faster connections 

You can connect wirelessly or by using a network cable which provides fast upload and download speeds making it great for sharing files between computers, playing online games etc...

  • Longer range

The ADSL 2+ connection can reach areas that older types of broadband often couldn't which makes it perfect for rural homes or where signal strength is weak.

  • Multiple connections

This type of modem is capable of hosting multiple people at once so you don't have to worry about sharing speed with neighbours causing them to slow down. 

  • Higher capacity per user

The higher spectrum capacity allows more data to be transferred with less drop off in speeds, meaning each person on the network has a better experience when compared to conventional ADSL services.

What are the main differences between ADSL2+ and ADSL broadband? 

ADSL 2+ is faster with its greater spectrum capacity, whereas ADSL requires users to share bandwidth because it is limited by how much information can travel over the copper wire. This means that in terms of speed ADSL 2+ is faster but when it comes to sharing there are fewer limitations with ADSL.

What are some advantages of ADSL broadband?

1.) The biggest advantage of ADSL is that it can be installed on an already existing phone line, with no need to create a new infrastructure. This means the technology uses existing phone lines for both voice calls and internet data, which makes installation more cost effective than other technologies. 

2.) Another advantage of ADSL broadband is that it has greater potential speeds than other common broadband technologies such as cable or satellite internet. However, because these speeds are dependent on how far away a user's home or business is from the telephone central office (CO), there is no guarantee of the top speed, since this will depend on how many users are connected to any one CO at any given time. 

3.) Most major providers have a selection of ADSL broadband deals available. This means you can afford to be picky when comparing average speeds, and monthly costs for instance. 

What are some disadvantages of ADSL broadband?

1.) The most obvious disadvantage is that only one computer using ADSL broadband can be on the Internet at any given time. If you have multiple computers in your home that need to be online then they must share the maximum speed available under this system. You may also need extra equipment to use DSL, such as filters to separate voice and data signals. Older computers may not have the required Ethernet card to connect to the DSL modem or phone line that is also needed for ADSL. 

2.) Other disadvantages are that you must live in an area where there is service available from your service provider, this can make it more difficult if you move around often. This means that with ADSL your speed will vary depending on how far you are from the central office of your telephone company, which is usually about 6,000 ft. For someone living in a small town this could mean slower speeds than someone living in London who might be closer to their telephone company's central office.

Should I upgrade from ADSL broadband?

Only you can decide whether or not to upgrade from your ADSL broadband deal. The biggest advantage of upgrading currently seems to be the new technology that offers faster speeds and more reliability, such as VDSL: 

  • What is VDSL broadband? 

VDSL is an acronym for Very-high-bitrate Digital Subscriber Line. VDSL's maximum speeds are up to 52Mbps downstream, and 16Mbps upstream. VDSL can handle more data per second than ADSL because it uses a wider range of frequencies: 25 kHz compared with 1.1 MHz (this means that the bandwidth that is available to carry signals on the line is much larger). VDSL modems use less broadband noise and distortion than standard modems by using echo cancellation technology, which reduces interference from high levels of regeneration or long cable lengths. 

  • ADSL vs Cable broadband

Cable internet is also very popular, especially in areas where it's not practical or economical to run DSL. Cable modems work similarly to DSL, taking advantage of frequencies that are less crowded for faster speeds than can be achieved with dial up.

  • ADSL vs Satellite

Satellite internet is another high-speed internet option but only available in remote areas where cables and phone lines don't exist. Satellite can deliver speeds up to 15mbps (megabits per second) but the latency (time delay) can make this quite impractical since you need quicker response times when playing games or video chatting. This time delay does make satellite useful however for tasks like sending email which doesn't need quick response times.

Satellite based broadband services are usually sold on a long term contract, which may be good for the provider because there is low overhead but bad for the consumers, as they are often forced to pay higher rates than can be found outside of contracts.

  • ADSL vs Fibre Optic

Fibre optic internet also has high speeds capable of 100+ mbps (megabits per second) and like any other broadband connection it only requires a modem and wireless router to transmit data. Another benefit is that fibre service tends to offer unlimited data capacity so there are no limits on how much you can use. This means people working from home have the ability to download/upload large files in their non-working hours without worrying about hitting some 'limit'. The largest downside with fibre optic is the distance limitations, which can be overcome by using fibre to the node (FTTN) where at least some of the distance wiring is traditional copper; but this will still affect broadband speeds.

Can I get ADSL broadband where I live?

To connect an ADSL modem, your home must be within six kilometres of your local telephone exchange. This is based on how far it takes for sound waves to travel through wires (6,000 meters). If you are farther away from the exchange, satellite service may be available instead. ADSL works with any kind of telephone line, but isn't available everywhere. To check if ADSL is an option for you and to see what speeds you can expect (maximum 24Mbps, average 8-15 Mbps), visit their official website.

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