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About digital subscriber line (DSL)

Unlike most of the service types we talk about on CableTV.com, DSL doesn’t support TV—it’s an internet-only service. But some DSL providers offer TV through different service types. And in the telecom world, you’re likely to run into DSL due to its high availability, so we didn’t want to leave it out.

DSL uses standard telephone lines but sends signals on a different frequency than phone calls or outdated dial-up internet. This way it can transport more information without any interruptions.

And now DSL is faster than ever in places where it’s supported by a fiber-optic backbone. This hybrid system might not bring fiber speeds all the way to your home, but it still improves DSL’s overall capabilities by using fiber to carry data from your neighborhood to distant nodes.

While a lot of DSL providers are local companies, a few big-name companies have DSL networks too:

The significant advantage of DSL is that it’s available to more people than fiber or cable internet. Use the tool below to find DSL providers by zip code:

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Bottom line: Is DSL worth it?

DSL might not be the fastest service type on the market, but most DSL plans still qualify as high-speed internet (anything 25 Mbps or faster). That said, DSL’s greatest strength lies in its wide availability—you almost definitely have DSL in your area.

DSL internet providers

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DSL internet providerDownload speedLearn more
AT&T InternetUp to 100 MbpsVIEW PLANS
CenturyLinkUp to 100 MbpsVIEW PLANS
FrontierUp to 115 MbpsVIEW PLANS

If you’re looking for TV service, AT&T bundles DSL internet with DIRECTV. CenturyLink and Frontier also bundle with DIRECTV and DISH respectively.

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Pros and cons of DSL

Pros of DSL

  • Availability: DSL service is available to about 90% of the US population. That makes it even more common than cable service and far more common than fiber service.
  • Data allowance: While DSL falls behind cable’s and fiber’s high speeds, it stands up well against satellite internet in terms of data caps. You’ll still be going at full speed with DSL long after you would have hit a throttling data cap on satellite internet.

Cons of DSL

  • Cost: Some DSL plans are more affordable than cable and fiber plans, but DSL has a hard time competing when you compare the prices of similar speed plans. Generally, cable and fiber can bring you faster speeds for less.
  • Speed: Thanks to the fiber backbone that DSL networks depend on, DSL can bring you much faster speeds than it used to. But even these souped-up speeds can’t compete with the fastest download speeds available from cable and fiber internet.

DSL vs. cable vs. fiber vs. satellite

While cable, fiber, and satellite technology can all deliver both TV and internet, DSL can’t serve up TV access. And when it comes to internet, these service types vary greatly.

DSL

Your DSL service will come through one of the telephone ports in your home. With help from a fiber backbone, DSL can reach speeds up to 115 Mbps.

Cable

Thanks to coaxial cables, this internet type comes through the cylindrical twist-on outlets in your wall where you may be used to hooking up TV. Depending on your provider and plan, you can get speeds up to 400 Mbps with cable internet.

Fiber

Contained within fiber-optic cables that hold bundles of glass or plastic as thin as hair strands, fiber sends data in the form of light. That’s why it’s the fastest service around—it’s hard to beat the speed of light.

Satellite

When you live in a rural area, it may be difficult to get even DSL service. Satellite can be a good, widely available alternative—by sending data to space and back, you can access the internet from just about anywhere in the US. The process takes a while, though, so satellite internet tends to lag.

Bundling DSL with TV

When you’re looking to bundle TV with your DSL service, you’ll usually have a few options. If AT&T Internet is a DSL provider in your area, you can snag some good savings on bundles with DIRECTV.

Since satellite TV covers most of the US, it’s safe to say DIRECTV and DISH will be among your best options. Not every DSL provider offers the same bundling discounts AT&T does, but there’s still a lot to like about the wide selection of plans you get with DIRECTV and DISH.

See what internet and TV providers are available in your area

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Give DSL a chance

DSL isn’t the most advanced technology, but it can offer more than fast enough download speeds for many households. Include DSL providers in your search to make sure you know all your options.

You can see if there’s DSL in your area by entering your zip code below:

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