Understanding ADSL

ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line and is the most commonly available type of broadband, delivered through the copper wires of your phone line. Two different types of ADSL technology which are used in the UK - ADSL1 and ADSL2+. Commonly taking the form of a fibre leased lines, a dedicated line differs from standard broadband, fibre to the cabinet and ADSL connectivity where up to 50 other businesses might be sharing the line with you.

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Often taking the form of a physical pathway owned by the business user or rented from an internet service provider, a dedicated line is also commonly called a Leased line. But, unlike many common connectivity options, such as dial-up lines, a dedicated line (also commonly referred to as a non-switched line) is not shared with multiple users, meaning the connection is reliable and uninhibited multiple internet users.

Often taking the form of a physical pathway owned by the business user or rented from an internet service provider, a dedicated line is also commonly called a Leased line. But, unlike many common connectivity options, such as dial-up lines, a dedicated line (also commonly referred to as a non-switched line) is not shared with multiple users, meaning the connection is reliable and uninhibited multiple internet users.

For small businesses, in particular, the jump from standard ADSL to a dedicated line can seem a big one. When it comes to pricing, investing in a dedicated line can seem a little daunting. Price, contract lengths and deployment times are often the key issue for businesses considering a dedicated line. Unlike regular broadband, a dedicated line can take around three months to install, and monthly fees can set businesses back by around £150 per month (if not more).

However, a dedicated line can come with a whole host of benefits for your business. In this post, we explore general business use cases of a dedicated line and how it could significantly impact your business efficiency and resilience in the long run.

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How does ADSL broadband work?

ADSL is the name given to a broadband connection which works through the copper wires of your existing phone line. Because it comes through the Openreach phone line network — which most homes are already connected to — it's the most popular type of broadband available, simply because it's so easy to sign up to and requires minimal installation in most cases.

When ADSL broadband is installed, a microfilter is plugged into your phone connection. This separates the frequency of your phone line from that of your broadband connection. It's this device that allows you to surf the web while chatting on the phone.

Almost all the major UK broadband providers offer ADSL broadband. While some of them also provide cable broadband or fibre broadband, ADSL broadband is by far the most commonly available. Nearly every home in the UK can now get ADSL broadband, so whether you live in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England, ADSL broadband is very likely available to you.

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ADSL offers speeds of up to 8Mbps (Megabits per second) downstream and 448Kbps upstream (832Kbps on business lines). The technology is cheap, fast and easy to install (doesn't require an engineer) and reasonably reliable, although performance can suffer due to ISP congestion, distance from the local exchange (shorter lines are faster but anything over 6.5km is usually slow), poor home wiring and interference from other electrical devices. Each connection is fixed to a specific telephone line.

The latest ADSL2+ (ITU G.992.5) technology is capable of pushing download speeds at up to 24Mbps and uploads at up to 1.4Mbps, it also supports port bonding (linking several lines together for faster speeds) and has an improved range over ADSL. Both ADSL and ADSL2+ are "best effort" broadband services, which means that bandwidth is shared between many users and can be highly variable - especially over long distances and at off-peak times (i.e. busy afternoons will slow the performance). The following graph shows what impact distance can have on speeds.

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