Differences Between DSL & VDSL

By Chris Brake

Major differences between DSL and VDSL include availability, speed, equipment and cost.
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The Internet has evolved into a worldwide force powered by technology that continually changes. Years ago, the only decision Internet users had to make was whether to install a second phone line, as being online all day produced perpetual busy signals for family and friends trying to call in. Today, the decision is more involved for residential and business users alike. Learning the differences between DSL and VDSL broadband service will help you decide which is best for you.


Availability is easily the most important factor when it comes to choosing an Internet service. You can't get a service if it's not provided in your area. VDSL is the newest advance in Internet technology but it is available only in limited areas. On the other hand, DSL is widely offered by most Internet service providers. The speed of your connection can vary, however, and depends on your proximity to your carrier's physical facility.


Speed is probably the next most important factor, especially because the speeds between DSL and VDSL are quite different. VDSL can produce average download speeds of up to 50 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 2 Mbps, although this is limited to short, local loops such as within a small neighborhood. DSL has much slower connection speeds of around 2 Mpbs downstream and 500 Kbps upstream. This speed decreases as your distance from your service provider's central office increases, which can result in much slower connection speeds than advertised.


The difference in equipment between DSL and VDSL is also quite significant. For DSL service, all you need is a DSL modem connected to a conventional phone line. For VDSL Internet, a fiber optic cable is required to route the data to your home or office. Most telephone companies are upgrading their lines to fiber optic, but large portions of the country will not be served for a number of years. However, a recent advance in technology has made it possible to route fiber optic cable to a central location which then distributes the VDSL signal to subscribers in a neighborhood.


The final consideration that usually tilts the scale on what type of Internet service is best for you is cost. VDSL offers high connection speeds but with a high price tag. AT&T offers VDSL service under its U-Verse product line for around $100 a month as of October 2010, and that's before equipment fees and assuming it is available in the user's area. At the other end of the spectrum is DSL. A standard DSL connection from AT&T is about $20 per month, plus the cost of a phone line and equipment, for a 6 Mbps/768 Kbps connection, assuming DSL service is available in the user's area.