Disadvantages & Advantages of a Dial-Up Connection & DSL Connection

By Steve Lander

DSL and dial-up use your phone line differently.
i Andy Sotiriou/Photodisc/Getty Images

Dial-up Internet connections and digital subscribe line connections share one attribute -- they both operate using your analog telephone wiring. However, while dial-up uses the same telephone system that you use for your landline, you need to have a special connection created for a DSL line. DSL, on the other hand, is much faster than a dial-up connection.

Dial-Up Advantages

One of the benefits of dial-up service is that if you have a land line, all that you need is a dial-up account and the modem built into your computer to connect to the Internet. You don't need to have a special line installed or have a special DSL modem box. Furthermore, you can take your dial-up account with you and connect to the Internet anywhere there's a phone line you can access. This can be useful if you are frequently in areas where you cannot access high speed Internet services.

Dial-Up Disadvantages

The key disadvantage of dial-up Internet access is that it is slow. As of the date of publication, the fastest dial-up modems available have a maximum speed of 53 kilobits per second -- this equates to 0.053 megabits per second. Furthermore, when you're using dial-up service, your landline is tied up.

DSL Advantages

The key advantage of DSL is that it's fast. DSL line speeds are typically measured in megabits per second, giving you at least 20 times the speed of a dial-up connection. Furthermore, DSL connections are usually always on, meaning that you stay connected to the Internet all the time and don't have to reconnect every time you sit down at your computer. Finally, while DSL uses your existing phone wiring, it doesn't tie up your phone line. You can still place and receive calls while you're online. You can even have what's known as "naked DSL," which still uses the wiring in your home or office, but doesn't require you to have traditional land-line phone services.

DSL Disadvantages

DSL has two major disadvantages. The first is that you need to buy a special connection from your phone company, pay a set up fee and either buy or rent a modem. The second is that you can't always get it. DSL only works when you are relatively close to the central office. Generally, you need to be within 18,000 feet, which is around 3.4 miles, from your telephone company. The farther away you are, the slower your DSL speeds can be, and the less likely it is that you'll be able to get DSL service at all.