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What is the difference between DSL and dial-up?


Question: What is the difference between DSL and dial-up?

Answer: A dial up connection is basically an analog signal carried over standard phone lines and translated on each end by computers. Because of limitations by phone lines, these signals are not carried very quickly, usually between 20-50 kbps. DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line, is a service that carries digital data transmission over standard twisted pair phone cable. The signal is carried in the unused frequency ranges on the copper wires. This means that it doesn’t interfere with voice communication over the same line. The speed of a DSL connection is directly dependant on the distance of the DSL modem to the DSLAM or ‘digital subscriber line access multiplexer’ usually controlled by the local phone company. It is also dependant on the speeds advertised by the ISP. The typical DSL connection can be anywhere from 128 kbps (2.5 times faster than dial-up) to 6 mbps (almost 100 times faster than dial-up). This again would depend on the ISP and your distance from the DSLAM. Unfortunately, if you don’t live within approx. 3 miles of a DSLAM, you may not qualify for DSL at all. All things considered, DSL is a far superior connection in terms of speed and convenience. However, because of availability limitations, sometimes dial-up is the only option.

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