Does Anybody Have the Scoop on DSL in Layman's Terms?

I am considering getting DSL for my business. Southwestern Bell has three plans that have different speeds and different prices. Anyway here are my questions?

What is the difference between DSL and regular phone internet service?

How much faster is DSL that regular internet service?

The fastest line is about $200 a month. This seems very high will that come down?

What are their plans & what are their prices?

Also, it can take a month or more to get it, so you better sign up soon.

Check out T1 access. It’s cheap in some areas.

Here is the rank for speed:


Q. What is the difference between DSL and regular phone internet service?

A. Many technical differences, the one you are interested in is that it is a dedicated line which is permanently connected. You don’t dial up. You will get a little box (a DSL modem) which plugs into the phone line, and an ethernet board for your computer which plugs into it. Your ISP will tell you how to configure it, which, frankly, is easier than setting up a dialup connection.

Q. How much faster is DSL that regular internet service?

A. Varies greatly with the sort of plan you buy and how close you are to your CO (Central Office - phone jargon for the place your phone line goes to connect to the machine that does the actual switching). Your “guaranteed” download speed may be anything from about 3 to 50 times your modem depending on these factors. In practice, you may get significantly more than your guarantee.

Q. The fastest line is about $200 a month. This seems very high will that come down?

A. Good question. I would guess we’ve seen most of the price reduction in DSL service at this point.

There is a very good resource at this site, which will answer many of your questions, let you look at ISP reviews, find out how far you are from your CO, run speed and security tests, etc:

Their basic FAQ is quite informative, and they have more advanced info as well.

And once you get set up, DO think about security - you will probably want to run a software firewall like Zone Alarm or BlackIce.

I used to work as a technology analyst and had the opportunity to research DSL pretty thoroughly

The differences between DSL and regular dial-up internet service:
[list][li]DSL (digital subscriber line) is, as the name implies, digital. POIS (plain old Internet service) is analog, i.e. the modem translates the digital information the computer sends/receives into a series of tones which are sent out over the phone lines.[/li][li]DSL is MUCH faster than POIS. The usual stat quoted is on the close order of 50 times faster than a 56k modem. Downstream speeds range from several hundred kbps to a couple of Mbps; you pay more for the faster service (as you’ve discovered), and in some areas you can also get symmetrical DSL, which is just as fast upstream. This also costs more, unsurprisingly. (FYI, my DSL service at home clocks in at about 600 kbps.)[/li][li]DSL is an “always on” connection - if the computer’s on and the (external) DSL modem is on, you’re connected. No dialup waiting, no busy signals, no being dumped by AOL because you went to make a sandwich. Of course, this does pose a larger security risk, but some elementary precautions greatly reduce that risk.[/li][li]You don’t need two phone lines if you have DSL, and it doesn’t interfere with analog voice traffic or analog fax transmissions. The digital information is sent at a much higher frequency than the analog traffic, and a “splitter” at your home separates the two signals and routes them to the appropriate equipment.[/li][li]DSL suffers from an inherent distance limitation… i.e., if you live more than a certain distance from the switching hub you’re out of luck. The max distance is improving all the time; check with your provider to see if you qualify.[/li][li]DSL (obviously) costs more than dialup service. It depends on who your provider is… I’m paying about $40, plus $10 for the ISP. I hear some places it’s a lot more… there are also some ad-supported free providers, I think. If you compare it to a $20 ISP and an extra phone line, about another $25, it’s pretty much a wash.[/li]
Hope this helps.

Very good info yabob! Thanks.

Thanks for the answer Chef Troy.

That line probably won’t come down, as it most likely isn’t really intended for consumer use. I don’t really know What the specifications for SWB’s price plan, but for that price it is probably for small business customers(lots of computers using the same line), and they are usually able to keep the profit margin much higher on for that.

T1 may be cheap in some places, but have you priced a T1 router lately? ($800-2500 for the ones I was looking at for a customer last summer). Throw in what most ISP’s will hit you for T1 access to their service, and you’re looking at a pretty hefty monthly fee (My ISP charges $1500/mo for T1 access).

As far as you speed breakdown, It’s not very accurate:
T1 (23 D channels) =1.55Mb downstream/upstream
Cable <10Mb downstream, 0.5-3Mb typical/~128-512upstream
DSL <7Mb ds, 144kb-3Mb typical/~144-512 us
ISDN (2 D channel BRI) 128kb both ways

ISDN services (T1 is a class of ISDN service) is an always on, full-bandwidth service. This means that at any time, you will always get the advertised bandwith between the ends of the circuit.

Note that cable and DSL speeds are only approximate. There are several different standards involved with DSL that have a wide variation in capabilities. Some are high speed but require you to be very close to the CO. Others, IDSL in particular, have a pretty long range but with little improvement in speed.

Cable and DSL are always-on, bandwith-on-demand services. With cable, you and your neighbors share a 10Mb circuit to the cable company head-end and then are connected to the Internet. With DSL, you are connected at the telephone company’s central office with all other DSL users and your packets use this stream (commonly called the “ATM cloud”) to get to your ISP. This keeps costs down since each connection does not require a dedicated wire pair from your house to your ISP like V.90 and ISDN do.