What is ADSL Broadband?

What is ADSL broadband?

ADSL is what many people would call ‘standard’ broadband, the lowest cost option available to most people. Not everybody needs warp-speed broadband, and if you need something to check your emails, do a little browsing now and then and maybe do occasional online shopping, you may well find that ADSL is the ideal solution for you. As with any type of broadband, you need to check the expected speeds at your address before ordering just to be sure.

simple home broadbandYou’ll find that ADSL broadband is available to around 99% of the UK’s population, even though many suppliers are now actively trying to move everybody acrosss to fibre broadband where it is available. ADSL itself is an abbreviation of “asymmetric digital subscriber line” which describes the type of line that is used to provide broadband access through a telephone line.

How does ADSL work?

An ADSL broadband connection allows you to access the internet via a standard Openreach phone line. The broadband system shares the phone line frequencies used for voice telephony, meaning you can access the internet and make phone calls at the same time. The pre-programmed ADSL compatible router (and sometimes a micro filter) that your broadband supplier gives you is all you need to get online. You don’t need to know what these are or how to set them up as they are provided ready to plug in and use.

The signal arrives at your home via a copper wire, which goes from your local Openreach exchange to the Openreach cabinet your property is connected to. From there, another copper cable carries the signal to your home, either via a telegraph pole or underground.

ADSL broadband speeds

The latest version of ADSL is called ADSL2+ and is theoretically capable of offering download speeds of up to 20Mbps and upload speeds of up to 2Mbps. Nationwide, the average is said to receive around download speeds of around 11Mbps and upload speeds of around 1Mbps, but in reality speeds are highly variable and very much location dependent.

Basic broadband types - adslOther than the final leg into your property, the lines used for ADSL broadband are shared between a large number of customers, and this can have a significant effect on your actual speeds, particularly at ‘peak’ periods when lots of people are at home, using the internet. Ultimately, they’re all sharing the same line as you.

Slow ADSL speeds can be caused by many different issues, poor line quality and congested exchanges, but one of the main factors is the distance between your property and the local cabinet/exchange. The longer the copper cables connecting your property are, the more speed you lose. For this reason, people in remote rural areas have historically suffered from pretty awful broadband speeds.

Is ADSL any good?

Compared to the original dial-up internet services, ADSL is superb but comparing it to superfast or ultrafast broadband is a bit like comparing an F1 car with a Reliant Robin, and a little unfair too.

Of course, some people don’t need F1 speed broadband. If you only want broadband to check emails, do a little browsing and maybe make the odd online purchase, ADSL offers a very cost-effective way of getting online. Whether it’s any good for you personally depends on what you want broadband for and what speeds are available at your address.