Everything you need to know about ADSL

From routers to to megabytes, we take you through everything you need to know about ADSL

Mike Mead


Getting to grips with ADSL broadband can be harder than it needs to be as there’s a lot of materials and buzzwords that blur the landscape. Because of this, we’ve tallied up the most frequently asked questions that we get asked. This guide isn’t to inform you on how to choose a provider or to compare ADSL and FTTC broadband. It should be used as a thorough run through of all the ADSL terms you need to know and what to expect when looking at ASDL broadband.

What does ADSL stand for?

ADSL stands for Asynchronous digital line subscriber. Whilst this is a bit of a mouthful, you don’t need to worry about remembering the acronym. ADSL is simply another term for broadband.

What does ADSL mean?

Breaking down the acronym, asynchronous refers to the upload and download speeds being different. For example, connections could be 2MBps upload speed and 20MBps download. The digital line subscriber element simply refers to the internet running over the phone line. Combined, we have a broadband connection with different upload and download speeds.

What speed should ADSL be?

There are generally two types of ADSL connections we see in businesses. The lesser grade, phased out ADSL broadband is expected to provide downloads speeds of 8MBps. The more common connection we see in businesses is an ADSL2+ connection. ADSL2+ speeds are capable of providing a 24MBps download speed. However, with any type of connection, the speeds do vary dependent on your environment. For example, the further away from the local telephone exchange or local cabinet impact you are, the more restricted your business will be in terms of broadband speeds.

What is the difference between cable and ADSL?

The difference between ADSL and cable is in the way the technology used to deliver the internet connects to local telephone exchange. ADSL broadband uses the copper phone line network to connect to your telephone exchange and internet is delivered via copper wires. Cable uses a combination of optical fibre and coaxial cables that run from the local cabinet to your business premises. As the fibre cables are more expensive to purchase and implement, cable broadband typically comes at a premium.

Which ADSL router do I need?

With a basic connection, the speed and performance is fairly restricted. In this scenario, the type of router is not too great a concern. When you move to an ADSL2+ connection, you have more bandwidth at your disposal so that’s when the type of router you purchase becomes more important. The likes of Cisco, Netgear, D-Link and Draytek all provide business grade routers. Dependent on how much or how little you wish to do with your broadband, your service provider will be able to guide you to the best type of router.

Both wired and wireless routers are available with ADSL connections. Whether your connection is in place for internet access for users across your site or dedicated for certain userless services will drive the decision to choose wired or wireless.

How to get ADSL without a phone line?

Getting internet connectivity without a phone line is a desired requirement for both homes and businesses that no longer use their copper phone line for calling. With the introduction of SIP,  VoIP and unlimited free minutes with mobile packages, the role of the actual phone line has changed. Rather than a method of calling people, the main use for a copper phone line is now transporting the broadband connection.

To get ADSL without a phone line, you have two main options. Some service providers offer specialist connections where different technologies are used to delivered the internet to your premises – without the need for a phone line installation. The second option is installing a dedicated fibre service to your premises. This is usually seen in larger businesses with a greater number of employees or businesses with a high demand for bandwidth, such as graphic design and video streaming services.

After reading this post, you should feel more informed and confident about the ins and outs of ADSL and hopefully you will feel a little closer to choosing your broadband package. To take the next step in your ADSL journey, our broadband experts are here to help. We can aid you in choosing the right speeds, service levels and customer support options in minutes. For a consultation, fill in your contact details or give us a call to get set up on 0191 511 1000.