Is Phone Line Service Needed for DSL Internet?

By Micah McDunnigan

Updated July 21, 2017

You need a phone line, but not an active voice plan, for DSL.
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Computer users who are looking around for high-speed Internet service have a multitude of options, including cable Internet, mobile hot spots and DSL. You may be Interest in DSL but have heard that it works over the phone line, or you may wonder if getting DSL requires you to get regular phone line service. In fact, it doesn't.

DSL Line Function

DSL service delivers Internet access by dividing a phone line into two frequencies: part to handle incoming and outgoing data packets, and the other part to handle regular voice service. This was a major technological improvement from the older 56Kbps Internet service. The 56Kbps connections operated entirely over the phone's voice line. Consequently, any time you went online, anyone trying to call you was greeted by a busy signal.

Phone Service

DSL technology uses the phone line, but not the voice component. This is why the divided line allows you to simultaneously surf the Internet and talk on the phone line at the same time. Because DSL technology divides the line, the two parts aren't dependent upon one another, nor do they interfere with one another. Consequently, you can choose to pay for voice service, DSL service or both services on your phone lines.

DSL Service

DSL uses a house's existing phone line infrastructure for its connections. These are generally used for voice service or standard telephone calling plans. However, in an age in which many individuals are choosing to use Voice over IP telephone service and mobile phones as primary telephone lines, these physical phone line jacks often go unused. Despite this, as of 2011 they're still standard features of any residential or commercial construction project.

Final Necessity

Because of the nature of DSL technology, if you want DSL service, you need phone lines in your home that are currently connected to the greater municipal telephone infrastructure. This doesn't mean that your lines are currently active, merely that you could choose to activate the lines with a service if you so chose. If you don't have phone lines or phone lines that can be activated, you can't get DSL service. However, as long as you live in an area in which a company offers DSL service, and a technician can connect your lines to the greater infrastructure, then you can get DSL service.