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How do I get an ADSL Connection?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 17, 2024
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ADSL is one of the most popular types of high-speed Internet access available. Running over standard copper telephone lines, ADSL is widely available and affordable. Since it uses a different frequency band than telco voice service, one can surf the Web and use the landline telephone at the same time. Best of all, it’s easy to get an ADSL connection.

ADSL is normally referred to as DSL for short. The entire acronym stands for Asynchronous or Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line. Asynchronous simply means the upstream and downstream speeds differ. Far more bandwidth or speed is available in the downstream direction, or for data that is coming from the Internet to your computer. Less bandwidth and speed is available for sending files to the Internet. This is because most people don’t upload large files to the Internet, but only send short, simple requests for Web pages, mail services, and so on. Synchronous or SDSL service is also available with matched upstream and downstream speeds, but it is more expensive and usually reserved for businesses.

To get an ADSL connection you can first check for DSL providers in your area. One way to do this is by entering your city and state or country in a search engine, followed by a space, a plus sign, and the letters, DSL. For example, "Manhattan Beach CA +DSL" without the quotes. Visit a link that will take you to a provider. Enter the physical address where the computer will be that requires DSL service, and the provider will let you know if the neighborhood is covered. If so, it will present you with the DSL packages available to you.

DSL is affordable precisely because it offers tiered packages that start at a very low monthly rate for minimal speeds that are still tens of times faster than dialup. Faster packages have progressively higher monthly rates. Most DSL plans require a one-year contract with an initial 30-day trial period during which one can cancel the service without paying a penalty fee for early cancellation. However, read the fine print, as terms and trial periods vary from service to service.

Most providers offer first-time customers a reduced monthly rate for the first year that increases the following year to the standard rate. One can optionally choose to leave the provider after the first year to get an ADSL connection elsewhere.

Most DSL providers offer an included DSL modem with their package that has been preconfigured to work with the provider. There might be a deposit required, or a small monthly fee for leasing this equipment, and wireless models can be a little more. Either way the customer is typically required to ship the modem back at his or her own expense when service is discontinued. The provided modem can be handy for people who are not technically inclined, but for those who are, many chose to provide their own modem which can be less of a hassle over the long run, and in some cases more cost effective. Again, read the fine print.

If you’d like an idea of what customer service will be like at a particular provider before you get an ADSL connection with them, you might check customer reviews. One good website for this is DSLReports.

Once you’ve decided on a vendor, signing up is quite easy. It can take a few days up to a couple of weeks to get an ADSL connection active, depending on the provider. The largest providers tend to have longer wait times than smaller providers, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule.

Don’t forget to install DSL filters on any line leading directly to a landline telephone. One or two filters might be provided for free from your ISP, and more can be purchased from an electronics shop. The filter blocks the frequencies used in DSL signals, keeping the landline free of noise created by electronic interference.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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