How Fast Is DSL?


Quick Answer

According to the Federal Communications Commission, as of 2014, the average subscribed DSL speed is 21.2Mbps, up from 15.6 in the previous reporting period. According to independent data gathered by Ookla, this falls well below the 31.9Mbps national broadband average in the United States.

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Full Answer

It is believed that the reason for the significant difference between DSL and other broadband options has to do with the technology involved. DSL providers have simply reached the limit of the analog phone lines' capacity. Without updating or improving their infrastructure, there simply is no way to achieve higher data transfer speeds. This is because DSL relies on a dedicated data line for each subscriber, and speed can vary based on how far a subscriber is from a DSL hub. This normally allows DSL subscribers to have more reliable speeds, but also limits the maximum bandwidth available to individual subscribers.

Meanwhile, cable broadband utilizes a shared bus, which splits the total available bandwidth between a larger number of subscribers and routes its traffic through a fiber optic trunk line. This can lead to greater fluctuations during peak usage hours, but it also allows for higher overall speeds to be offered and generally maintained. Finally, an individual user's actual speed may vary if he is sharing a network with other Internet-enabled devices.

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