DSL Speed Guide Q & A

dsl speedQuestion 1: How Fast is DSL?

Answer 1: DSL comes in many different speed grades ranging from several times faster than dial-up to literally hundreds of times faster than the fastest dial-up connection.  As with everything else, the more you pay the faster you can go.  There are some limitations there, though.  First off, some rural areas may have premium prices for DSL as there may not be any rival broadband offering available.  Conversely, some larger cities may have competition so fierce that a DSL provider will opt to forgo the bargain market and concentrate on the high-end where the premiums are greater.  Be sure to investigate your local area to see the broadband market in action and how DSL fits into the broader picture.

Question 2: How Does DSL Compare to Other Broadband Services?

Answer 2: As a general rule DSL offers some of the best prices on symmetrical broadband, and great latency and reliability in exchange for slightly lower overall download speeds compared to cable modems.  The recent advances in both technologies have kept this relationship more or less intact, but the amazing amount of bandwidth modern DSL has on tap is probably more than enough for almost any consumer.

Question 3: What Does “Up To” Mean?

Answer 3: The short answer is that this would be the maximum speed a particular broadband connection would be capable of.  How long and how often the performance of a given DSL connection will exceed its minimum requirements and how close it will ever come to the maximum ‘up to’ speed is an open question.  Few providers seem willing to disclose numbers or hard facts on the subject, but it never hurts to ask and perhaps even dig around the Internet and see what kind of stories you can dig up.  Keep in mind that people seem far more willing to share horror stories than positive experiences, so bear that in mind when using the Internet as a research tool.

Question 4: Should I Bundle My DSL Service?

Answer 4: Yes, but only if you plan on using the other service or services that you might bundle with.  There is no sense in ‘saving’ money by spending more and getting something that you will not use much of, or use not at all.  Instead, focus on finding DSL services bundled with other services that you might use, including digital cable delivered over the DSL network, home security, satellite TV, digital cable (VoIP) services, and so on.   The more services you bundle, the better the savings tend to be.

Question 5: Is DSL Faster Than Wireless 4G?

Answer 5: In most cases yes, but speed is not everything.  Reliability is a major factor and wireless broadband is not nearly as reliable as tried and true technologies such as DSL networking.  Simply put, if you want to be sure that a web page will load when you hit the button then you want a technology that has wires behind it rather than wireless at this point.  That may change with 5G or some other future wireless system, but 100% reliability is not something wireless can really offer at this stage.  Even wired networks have some reliability issues, but they are extremely rare by comparison to the problems that plague wireless technologies.

Question 6: How Much DSL Speed Do I Need?

Answer 6: This is a simple-looking yet complex question with a complex answer.  There are two major factors to consider: how many people would be using the DSL connection at once and what they might be doing.  Do not forget to factor in passive devices such as WiFi connected tablets and cell phones that may be updating email or social media in the background as they will certainly account for at least a modest trickle of data.  More serious applications such as media streaming and online gaming are going to require even better data plans.  The net result is that you could need anything from a bargain basement 512kb plan to a plan rated at dozens or even triple-digit MBps.

Question 7: How is DSL Speed Rated?

Answer 7: DSL speed is rated in terms of downstream speeds and upload speeds as a general rule, but it may also have ‘up to’ speeds to consider as well.