Broadband penetration in the United States is at 90 percent, according to GigaOM, but not all broadband providers offer high enough speeds to handle HD streaming and fast downloads. Files keep getting larger and larger, and more devices in the home are equipped for Internet access. Outside of desktop computers, laptops and smartphones, many homes also have video game consoles, streaming media players, and even appliances that need to connect to a network or the Internet.

When your needs exceed your current Internet service provider, it may be time to look for a more robust connection — ADSL. Read on to learn more about its advantages and to have ADSL explained in terms that anyone can understand.

What Is ADSL?

ADSL stands for asymmetric digital subscriber line. The asymmetric term might be a bit confusing if you think it implies instability in the Internet connection. However, what it really refers to is a download speed higher than the upload speed. This connection transmits your data through copper phone wires, which goes to a piece of equipment called a digital subscriber line access multiplexer. This translates the signals so you get the Internet connection.

Advantages of ADSL

One of the big advantages of ADSL is how widespread it is. Rural and underdeveloped areas in the United States have classically had problems getting broadband Internet access. Many areas depended on satellite Internet or even dial-up. However, almost every area in the U.S. has phone lines running to it, so it is easy for companies to add ADSL and other DSL technologies to these areas, instead of running cable line out to them.

ADSL 2 is an upgrade to ADSL technology that is designed to work well with streaming media, online gaming and other activities that require a lot of bandwidth. While ADSL is no slouch in the speed department, ADSL 2 makes it even faster through more effective and efficient technology.

ADSL does not suffer the same problem cable does when many geographically close subscribers access the Internet at the same time. When cable subscribers all go online and use bandwidth, the overall neighborhood pipeline slows down the Internet for everyone in the location. Since ADSL works through the phone wires and is translated through equipment, it doesn't suffer from this slow-down.

While the upload speed is slower than the download speed, this is true with almost all broadband connections. You aren't uploading data as much as you need to download it and this allows the ADSL line to go faster.

Creative Commons image by quinn.anya

David Casper is a graphic and SMS interface designer from Silicon Valley. He freelances whenever he's not busy running around the yard with his three kids and dog.

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