DSL Internet Providers

DSL internet is one of the most widespread, accessible, and reliable ways to get connected to the web. Though it’s earned a reputation as an old-school technology, don’t let that fool you; DSL still has plenty of uses, and can easily yield speeds necessary for most household internet needs. Read through our guide to DSL internet service to find out everything you need to know about this type of hardware: what it is, DSL’s advantages and disadvantages, and other frequently asked questions.

Provider Max Download Speed Up To
AT&T 100 Mbps View Plans
CenturyLink 100 Mbps View Plans
Windstream 100 Mbps View Plans
WOW 100 Mbps View Plans
EarthLink 75 Mbps View Plans

What is DSL internet?

DSL is a type of internet service that makes use of phone lines to connect you to the internet. Don’t worry: it’s not dial-up, so you won’t have to worry about interference due to using the phone and the internet at the same time. Luckily, those days are behind us.

Many consumers choose DSL internet service because it is widely available across the country. While Cable internet requires a Cable hookup (like the one you’d use to get Cable TV service), and Fiber Optic internet is rather hard to come by outside of tech hubs and urban areas, DSL is available in most of the USA, because it uses the hardware and infrastructure already in place due to phone lines. Residents in rural areas often choose DSL internet for this very reason, and because, although Satellite is also an option in those areas, DSL tends to be faster and more dependable.

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What does DSL stand for?

DSL stands for digital subscriber line. This means that internet providers are able to transmit digital data—like computer code—over a phone line. This data is transmitted at a different frequency from a phone call, so, unlike dial-up, you can use the phone and browse the web simultaneously. When you subscribe to DSL internet, a line is hooked up from the phone line to your modem. The modem serves as the gateway to the internet, and the device through which internet signals are transmitted and made usable by your devices. You can also hook up a WiFi router to your modem, turning the broadband signal delivered by DSL into a wireless frequency that is picked up by your web-enabled devices.

DSL Internet

What are the Pros and cons of
DSL internet

What is DSL internet good for? And where does it struggle? As with any internet service hardware, there are pros and cons that come along with DSL. It’s a great option for those who live in rural areas with little broadband coverage and families may find it perfectly suitable for everything they need: streaming, some light gaming, general web browsing, email, and messaging.

Pros of DSL internet

  • Widely available in the US: Phone lines cross the entire country, and even many remote and rural areas have access to phone lines. This makes DSL a promising option for those who live out in remote areas, as Cable lines are less likely to have been laid out that far.
  • Inexpensive: DSL internet connections tend to be less expensive compared to other internet service options. Some plans cost as little as $25 a month, and are perfectly capable of handling average internet browsing needs, like email and light video streaming.
  • Stabler connection in bad weather: For many in rural areas, Satellite and DSL are the two options available. If your residence is connected to the necessary phone lines, DSL may offer a more stable connection than Satellite. This is largely due to the fact that Satellite service can be easily interrupted by inclement weather, clouds, and even trees in some cases. Phone lines can go down in a bad storm, but it takes more than a cloudy day to interrupt service.

Cons of DSL internet

  • Slower top speed: Phone lines aren’t capable of supporting the same download speeds that Cable or Fiber Optic can, thus most DSL services max out at 100 Mbps—or megabits per second.
  • Reliance on phone lines: DSL does require that your residence is hooked up to phone lines. While this isn’t a problem for many, if you live in a particularly remote rural area, you may not have access to phone lines.
  • Distance from network hub slows speeds: DSL is an older technology than some other varieties of internet provider, and so it does suffer some performance drawbacks. One is that, if your local network hub (run by your internet provider) is far from your point of usage, the internet speed can be delayed, resulting in lag and latency.

What are the best DSL providers?

The best DSL providers typically depends on your specific geographic location. A few common providers that you are likely to find in different parts of the country include:

  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • CentryLink

Be sure that you search for providers in your area. Take a look at this FCC.gov coverage map to find out more about what providers offer broadband coverage near your home, and whether DSL is among the options listed.

The best DSL internet provider for your needs also depends on your particular usage habits. There are three general speed ranges that you’re likely to find DSL internet:

  • 5 - 20 Mbps: Introductory DSL speeds work well for messaging, email, and some internet browsing.
  • 20 - 50 Mbps: These speeds are great for light browsing, email, and some video streaming.
  • 50 - 100 Mbps: Higher speeds are suitable for multiplayer online gaming, streaming, video calls, and more; if you plan on using DSL for business, these are the speeds you’ll likely consider.

Be sure to look at all the relevant features, including internet speed, offered by the plans you’re shopping before committing to service. It’s also wise to look at online reviews of the company you plan on working with, as even two companies offering the seemingly the same service package may not be equal in factors like consistency, customer service, and repair time.

DSL internet installation

DSL internet installation can be fairly simple. Since phone lines exist in most places, a certified technician simply has to come and connect your new modem to the phone lines. This process shouldn’t take longer than a couple of hours.

If you do not already have phone line connectivity installed, the process may be more complicated, and could take several days—and come at a much greater cost—to complete.

DSL Internet FAQs

Does DSL internet have WiFi?

Yes, you can connect to WiFi using DSL internet. In order to establish WiFi in your home, you’ll have to purchase a router in addition to your modem. The router takes the broadband signal transmitted through the modem and broadcasts it via radio waves so that it can be picked up by any WiFi enabled device in the area.

Is DSL fast enough for Netflix?

DSL speeds can reach as high as 100 Mbps, which is more than enough for Netflix’s recommended 3 Mbps to run the site and stream its content. For HD content, 5 to 10 Mbps is recommended. For most DSL plans, as long as your connection is stable and you have no other connectivity issues (and your devices are performing normally), streaming Netflix should be seamless.

Is DSL obsolete?

Some think that DSL is obsolete due to the prevalence of Cable internet. However, each has their own use. DSL is a great option for rural areas without Cable connectivity, and it can also be inexpensive compared to Cable, making it accessible to those with tighter budgets. Until other technologies become cheaper and more widely available, DSL won’t be obsolete.