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Surf the Web Faster: Everything You Need to Know About DSL Internet Speed

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Did you know that the official birthday of the internet is January 1, 1983? You can probably agree that nowadays the internet has become a part of our lives and we can’t really go an entire day without getting online. If you are trying to figure out if DSL internet speed is the best option for your home, you are in the right place.

We have put together this guide to share everything there is to know about DSL including pros and cons of DSL internet. Read on to learn the ins and outs of DSL.

How Fast Is DSL?

One of the first questions people ask is: “is DSL internet fast?” The average speed is almost as fast as cable internet options. The main difference is that cable internet is shared with others in the area you live in, which ends up slowing down the internet speed.

Because of this, DSL is considered the fastest internet between cable and DSL because it’s not shared with your neighbors, so your speed isn’t affected.

The speeds vary depending on the package that you choose and the area you live in. For those that love streaming and binge-watching their favorite shows or love to game, you need to choose the fastest package available from your local provider. We highly recommend you compare internet service providers to see the difference between the packages offered.

Speed packages can range between less than 1 Mbps to 5,000 Mbps and the average person is happy and satisfied with 100 Mbps. The download and upload speeds will vary based on how you use your network. Usually, local service providers will offer faster downloads than uploads because most customers spend their time downloading.


The time that is required for a signal to travel from your device to a server and back is called the latency or the ping rate. It is not the same measurement as internet speed but it’s just as important when it come to the performance of your home network.

If your internet connection has a high latency or high ping rate then it will lead to a laggy connection. You will mainly notice the lagging when you are connecting to video conference calls, livestreams, and gaming.

Low latency, on the other hand, will give you quick response times and instant action when working or gaming online. The latency for DSL is around 11-40 milliseconds. Fiber connection has around 10-12 ms latency and cable connections have around 13-27 ms latency.

As you can see, the ping rate for DSL connections is on the higher end compared to the other two common internet options.

Why Is Speed Important?

The reason speed is important is that it sets up what a person can do online without issues or delays if you’re trying to work or do school work. Having enough speed will make it easier to do things online that require a high bandwidth.

For example, streaming in 4K or downloading a large file will be best with higher internet speeds because you won’t have to worry about buffering or your connection dropping and having to restart your download or what you were watching.

Speed is also important because it allows you to multitask without lagging. It also allows you to use multiple devices at the same time without delays. Having faster internet means that you will have enough bandwidth to efficiently allow multiple users to go online at the same time.

High speed internet will give you faster loading times, quicker downloads, better support for multiple users on the same network, lower chances of dropped connections, less buffering, and smoother connections on video conferences calls.

A good analogy when you think of faster internet is thinking of the type of vehicle you use when you move from one home to another home. Using a truck or large SUV will make it much easier to move your stuff than moving in a two-door sedan.

Internet Speeds

When you call to get an idea of the packages your local company offers, you might be confused on what you can do with the number of Mbps they give you. Here is an idea of what you can expect with different internet speed ranges:

  • 0-5 Mbps – send emails, stream in HD on 1 device, search online
  • 5-40 Mbps – stream HD on a few devices, play games online, run 1 or 2 smart devices
  • 40-100 Mbps – stream in 4K on 2-4 devices, play games online with more than 1 player, run 3-5 smart devices, download large files quickly
  • 100-500 Mbps – stream in 4K on 5+ devices, run 5+ smart devices, download large files (2-30 GB) quickly
  • 500-1,000+ Mbps – stream in 4K on 10+ devices, download and upload gigabyte plus-sized files quickly, run 10+ smart home devices, do anything on multiple devices without worrying about slowing down

Someone that lives on their own will not really need as much internet speed and bandwidth as a family that is doing school work and streaming in every room.

How Is Speed Measured?

Speed is measured in bits per second when it comes to the internet. Bit stands for binary digits, and it is the most basic unit of digital data. The most common measurement internet service providers advertise is Mbps, but sometimes you might see Kbps or Gbps.

Kbps is kilobits per second (1,000 bits per second), Mbps means megabits per second (1,000,000 bits per second), and Gbps is gigabits per second (1,000,000,000 bits per second). When you come across an Internet package in Kbps speeds, this means that it is on the slower side because it’s only running 1,000 bits per second.

Those that share the internet with a lot of people in the house will benefit from speeds that reach Gbps.

Cable vs DSL Internet

If you have residential cable at home, then you might be offered cable internet as part of a bundle package. Cable internet means that you have wires that provide a high-speed internet connection along with your TV service. Usually, with cable internet, you have download speeds of up to 500 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 50 Mbps.

With cable internet, you can usually have a household using multiple devices online without an issue. There are some cable providers that offer plans that are almost as fast as having fiber internet. Cable internet is a good choice for households that require a reliable internet connection but do not need lightning fast internet.

One of the cons of cable, like we mentioned earlier, is that you do share your bandwidth with others in your area that have cable internet. This means that during peak use times, you will notice a delay.

DSL internet uses telephone lines rather than cable lines. Because most of the country has access to phone service, DSL is more widely available than other internet options. This is why people living in rural areas can still have access to the internet with DSL.

Keep in mind that with DSL internet, the farther away you are from the provider, the more spotty your internet connection will be. DSL requires your connection to be near the ISP (internet service provider). The cabling for DSL networks degrades in strength over long distances, the closer you are, the faster and more reliable your internet connection will be.

DSL Costs

This is one of the more reasonable priced internet options. Plans are usually between $20 to $45 per month. There are much larger plans for households that require higher speeds that can cost $90+ per month.

You can find many providers that offer completely unlimited plans, which is a major plus if you don’t want to worry about going over and paying a lot more. A perk to keep in mind with DSL internet plans is that you won’t really have to worry about your rates spiking like they tend to do with fiber or cable internet.

Future of DSL

Even though more than 70% of households in the United States use DSL to connect to the World Wide Web, its days are numbered. Most providers of DSL are pivoting towards more reliable and faster technologies such as fiber because of the internet demand people are leaning towards.

During the pandemic, the internet requirements for online education, streaming of video, and telemedicine grew exponentially. With the release of more smart televisions, smartphones, and internet devices such as Alexa, the demand for more bandwidth is inevitable.

DSL can still be a good choice if it meets your current internet needs, and it’s the least expensive option, but in the long term it might not be the best solution. This internet option might not allow you to keep up with the needs of your household in the future.

IS DSL Right for You?

It might be a good option if your household has 2 or less internet users. DSL is also a good choice if you want internet at a more affordable price. It’s also great if you use the internet for streaming movies, browsing the web, streaming music, and for online shopping.

Households that enjoy gaming might not benefit from DSL because you might notice some lagging if you don’t opt for a package with high speeds. DSL is considered high speed internet because it meets the criteria to be considered high speed. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) defines high-speed internet as anything that delivers at least 25 Mbps download speeds.

The average internet service provider does offer DSL plans that are 25+ Mbps. The maximum speeds most providers offer for DSL are around 100 Mbps.

Is It the Same as Phone Cable?

DSL is the same as a phone cable and it runs through the same copper wiring as a telephone landline. Sometimes people confuse it with dial-up internet, but it is not the same thing. DSL, unlike dial-up, is always on.

The average dial-up speeds are around 56 Kbps, while the slowest DSL connections are still around 10-20 Mbps (equivalent to 10,000 – 20,000 Kbps).

Difference Between Upload and Download Speeds

The upload speeds are the rate at which information travels from your device to the internet. For example, your upload speeds will determine how quickly you post things to your social media accounts. Activities that require higher upload bandwidth include:

  • Virtual conference calls
  • Posting to social media
  • Writing an article on Google Docs
  • Hosting a livestream

Download speeds are how quickly your information travels from internet servers to your connected device. For example, if you are on Facebook, your download speeds are going to determine how long it will take to load your feed.  Activities that will be affected by your download bandwidth include:

  • Downloading files
  • Streaming music
  • Streaming movies
  • Scrolling through social media
  • Reading a blog post or an article

Usually, internet providers offers plans with a lot faster download speeds than upload speeds because the average person downloads a lot more information than they upload. For this reason internet providers allocate less bandwidth to uploads when providing internet service at home.

With more people depending on video conferencing such as Zoom or collaborative work on sites like Google docs, upload speeds are becoming more important. Fast upload speeds reduce the chances of long load times and choppy video calls.

Feeling Like a DSL Internet Speed Pro?

Now that you have learned the ins and outs of DSL internet speed, you can make an informed decision if this is the best option for your home internet needs. Don’t forget to ask about the package options your local provider offers to see if their speeds will fit your internet requirements.

Did our guide help you today? Please continue browsing the rest of our technology section for our latest helpful guides.

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