Does DSL Use an Ethernet?

By Kimberly Turtenwald

DSL service is faster than dialup, while still using the phone line.
i Hemera Technologies/ Images

Digital subscriber line, or DSL, Internet service allows you to receive high-speed Internet transmissions through your regular telephone line without interrupting phone service. While the signal for the Internet comes through your phone line, you don't connect the phone line directly to your computer. You'll use another means of connection to link your computer with a DSL modem, which in turn plugs into the phone line.

Phone Line

Because DSL travels through the same wires as your telephone service, your DSL connection begins with your phone line and a phone cord. The phone cord is inserted into the phone jack, just as it would be to hook up a telephone receiver. The phone cord creates a connection between the phone jack and the DSL modem. If you are going to also use a telephone from that phone jack, install a DSL filter first to achieve a clearer signal on your telephone.

Ethernet Cable

An Ethernet cable is the most prominent method for connecting your computer to your DSL modem. Ethernet cables are capable of transmitting large amounts of data quickly, and can accommodate multiple frequencies to transmit that data. In addition, an Ethernet cable provides a stronger signal over a longer distance, compared with a USB cable. The Ethernet cable connects to a port at the back of the DSL modem and to the Ethernet port at the back of your computer.

USB Cable

Some computers do not have an Ethernet port on the back. For those computers, a DSL connection can use a USB cable instead. How fast the connection is depends upon whether the computer has USB 2.0 capabilities, or earlier USB technology. USB 2.0 is as fast as Ethernet, and while earlier USB technologies are not, they still provide much faster Internet access than dialup. The USB cable inserts into a special USB port on the back of the DSL modem. The other end of the USB cable plugs into one of the USB ports located on the back or front of your computer.


Your DSL Internet modem gives you the option of having a wireless high-speed network in your home. Some modems have a wireless router built-in and need no additional connections to provide Internet service on your wireless-enabled computer. If not, you'll need a wireless router, which you'll connect to the DSL modem with an Ethernet cable. In either case, you won't need a cable to connect to the computer. Your computer may require a wireless adapter if it does not have one already built-in (most laptops and many desktop computers have built-in wireless capabilities).