DSL Advantages & Disadvantages

By Chris Joseph

DSL, or digital subscriber line, is a form of Internet connection that makes use of existing copper telephone lines to provide access. Individuals who have landlines can usually connect to DSL through their current phone company. DSL offers several advantages and disadvantages when compared to other common methods of Internet connection, such as dial-up or a cable modem.

Open Phone Lines

An advantage that DSL has over a dial-up Internet connection is that it will not tie up your phone. This can be an important benefit if you operate a business where you need simultaneous access to the telephone and Internet. Also, DSL is always "on," so you will not have to worry about getting connected like you do with dial-up. The charge for line access from the phone company is also relatively inexpensive.

No Additional Wiring

A DSL connection makes use of your existing telephone wiring, so you will not have to pay for expensive upgrades to your phone system. Also, DSL uses extra lines from your telephone channels, so you will not need to have another line installed.


An advantage that DSL has over cable is that it offers greater security. In most cases, you will have access to a separate network. Cable networks are often shared by other computer users, so your privacy may be at risk.


A major disadvantage of DSL is that its effectiveness depends on proximity. The farther away you are from the DSL provider, the less efficient your service will be. If you are more than 18,000 feet from the provider, you may not have access to the service at all.

Busy Lines

Because DSL makes use of spare phone lines, you may experience a spotty connection if phone usage becomes heavy. Your phone company will be forced to use the extra DSL lines to handle the extra call volume, so you could conceivably experience difficulties during holidays or at times when long distance rates are lower.

Slower Uploads

Uploads are slower than downloads with DSL. If your business or other activities require you to frequently upload a high volume of files or large files, you may find DSL is impractical to use. In this case, you would be better off using a cable modem for your Internet access.