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xDSL

The physical characteristics of the copper lines that run into your home are not what limit the speeds you can achieve via analog modem. The limiting factor is the conversion into a 64 kbps stream at the telephone company switch. What if you could bypass the telephone switch and hook directly into a digital line at the telco office? ISDN does this, but it connects to a 64 kbps digital line, which is not a vast improvement over 56 kbps modems. A direct connection to a digital line into the Internet from the other end of the pair of copper wires in your home sets apart Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) and its cousins, grouped as xDSL.

xDSL speeds vary, but 1.5 Mbps downstream and 128 kbps upstream are common numbers. This is faster than cable modem. xDSL is now widely available. You may have to get two accounts to use it: one with your telco, and one with the ISP that has an agreement with your telco to place its xDSL equipment at the telco’s local Central Office (CO).


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