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DSL Advantages and Disadvantages

Each prospective user should be aware of the issues associated the  technology and method they are using to be better informed.  You need to know if what you are purchasing is the best choice for what you wish to accomplish.  Remember that with everything there are tradeoffs between price, performance and reliability.  DSL is a low price option for an internet  "access and transport" method.
 
DSL's Advantages

  • Independent services: Loss of high speed data does not mean you lose your telephone service. Imagine your telephone, television, and Internet access going out when a cable company amplifier/repeater dies.

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  • Security: Unlike cable modems, each subscriber can be configured so that it will not be on the same network. In some cable modem networks, other computers on the cable modem network are left visibly vulnerable and are easily susceptible  to break ins as well as data destruction.

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  • Integration: DSL will easily interface with ATM, Nx64, and WAN technology. Telecommuting may get even easier.

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  • High bandwidth

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  • Cheap line charges from the phone company.

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  • Good for "bursty" traffic patterns
  • DSL's Disadvantages
  • No current standardization: A person moving from one area to another might find that their DSL modem is just another paperweight. Customers may have to buy new equipment to simply change ISPs. Expect standardization within 1-2 years.  Currently in U.S. West territory the version of DSL being implemented is RADSL or Rate Adaptive DSL.

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  • Expensive: Most customers are not willing to spend more than $20 to $25 per month for Internet access. Current installation costs, including the modem, can be as high as $750. Prices should come down within 1-3 years. As with all computer technology, being first usually means an emptier wallet.

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  • Distance dependence: The farther you live from the DSLAM (DSL Access Multiplexer), the lower the data rate. The longest run lengths are 18,000 feet, or a little over 3 miles.

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  • Access: Once again, rural areas get shorted. These markets are not as profitable for the Telco.

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  • Asymmetry. Downstream/Upstream ratios may be unacceptably high (3 or more). There is nothing new here, as X.90 (56kbs) and cable modems also suffer in this area. Expect this to improve within 2-3 years.

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  • Limited availability

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  • Very new technology

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  • Low or no CIR  (Committed Information Rate).  This means that as traffic across the telco switch increases your data could in effect, be locked out, until call volumes and other traffic subsides.

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  • Downtime after line failure could be weeks compared with days for ISDN and hours for data circuits such as Frame Relay and Point to Point circuits.

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  • U S West DSL service is tarrifed as a "consumer grade" product.  "Commercial grade" DSL is being planned, but is not yet defined or available. 

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  • Reliability and potential down time issues makes DSL a very risky choice for mission critical systems unless backup / fail over links are put in place.

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  • Reliability and potential down time issues makes DSL a very risky choice for mission critical systems unless backup / fail over links are put in place.

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  • DSL may not be a good choice for you.  Check the article DSL: Don't be duped.

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  • Sometimes the process of getting DSL may be an adventure.  This article, while not a local event, is not an uncommon story:  Stuck in DSL Hell.


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