What Is the Difference Between DSL and U-Verse?

By Jennifer Gigantino

DSL provides an Internet connection over regular telephone wires.
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DSL is an acronym that stands for direct subscriber line. Many different telecommunications companies around the world provide DSL service. AT&T, the largest provider of landline telephony in the U.S., provides DSL as well as U-verse, a fiber-optic network that connects digital television and telephone service with high-speed Internet access through a central "brain" called the Wireless Gateway.

How DSL Works

There are multiple types of DSL, but all of them are delivered to your home over unused frequencies in existing telephone lines. It differs from dial-up Internet access in that while dial-up uses the same frequencies used for voice communication -- 0 kHz to 4 kHz -- DSL uses different ones, about 25 kHz to 1 mHz. This extra bandwidth also makes it faster than dial-up Internet access, with download speeds up to about 52 Mbps.

How U-Verse Internet Works

The Wireless Gateway is an intelligent device that connectsU-verse Internet with U-verse digital television and telephone services to allow you to control your DVR and check your voice mail through your computer or smartphone. It is powerful enough to enable wireless networking throughout your home without any dead spots. Additionally, its firewall protects your information and Internet activities from hackers and other snoops.

DSL Pros and Cons

DSL can have very fast data transmission rates -- up to 25 times faster than dial-up or traditional modems. Since it sends voice and data over the same line that already exists in most homes, there is no additional cabling to install. Unlike cable Internet, your home has its own dedicated line, so you needn't share with your neighbors. Unlike dial-up, DSL is always on and there is no need to wait for it to connect.

DSL is significantly more expensive than dial-up or cable Internet access. The further you are from your Internet service provider's central office, the slower your download and upload speeds. If you are located more than two miles from the office, you cannot get DSL access at all. The lack of standardization in the DSL industry means that you cannot buy just any DSL modem and expect it to work with your telephone company.

U-Verse Pros and Cons

U-verse is available in a selection of download speeds, which range from 3 Mbps to 24 Mbps. The plan includes amenities such as a security suite, email accounts and personal web space. Some DSL companies offer these features as well, but not all of them. The Wireless Gateway also controls your digital television and telephone service, and all of these services can be placed on a single bill.

U-verse is not available in areas that are unequipped with fiber-optic cable networks. Homes that are located close enough to a DSL service provider will find that DSL speeds are faster than those of U-verse.