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Minnesota OnLine Personal DSL FAQ
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What is DSL?

DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line, is a new form of data connection, specifically designed to get around the limitations of standard telephone lines. The specific type of DSL used in Tucson by US West is RADSL, or Rate Adaptive DSL. The minimum speed of this connection is 256 kilobits per second, compared with a maximum of 53 kilobits per second from the fastest Analog modem, or 128 kilobits per second from an ISDN connection.

How does DSL work?
On a normal phone line, you are connected to the "Public Switched Telephone Network" or PSTN. Most telephone lines have a maximum bandwidth of 64 kilobits/second. This rate is determined by sampling speed of your telephone company. Most phone companies sample at 4 kilohertz (the primary range of the human voice) with an 8-bit word length, which is a fancy way of saying its maximum speed is 64 kilobits. 8 kilobits of bandwidth is used for controlling the phone line, which leaves a maximum of 56 kilobits for data. This is why the fastest analog modem you can buy is 56k. In reality, most people only get 38-48 kilobits because of robbed bits (when the telephone company compresses the signal) or line noise.
On DSL, it is a digital connection to the telephone company’s private DATA-ONLY network. No voice traffic goes over these lines. This means you no longer have a limitation due to PSTN standards. This also means that based solely on the availability of DSL in your area and quality of your line, you will get more bandwidth, starting at 256 kilobits.
Since DSL no longer uses the phone system, there is no need to dial-up. It’s an “always-on” connection. As soon as your computer turns on, you will be connected to the Internet.
If all of this sounds confusing, don’t worry! This is just a fancy way of saying DSL is much, much faster and much, much better than a standard modem/analog/phone line Internet Connection. We included this information for people who absolutely have to know how this stuff works!

How do I know DSL will work for me? Are there limitations?
You won't know if DSL will work for you until you check if it’s available in your area. Once you've confirmed it’s available, US West can check to make sure that your phone line will support it. There are limitations on DSL, such as:
  • You are more than 15,000 feet from the Phone Company's CO (Central Office, the phone switch for your area)
  • Having bridges taps, load coils, or wire guage changes in your lines
  • Having repeaters in your lines
  • DSL does not work on Centrex lines (if you have a small office/home office with rollover phone lines)
 A vast majority of US West customers should be able to get DSL. For more information on finding the availability, go to http://megawot.uswest.com.


Do I need a new phone line?

No. DSL will run over your existing telephone line. US West has developed a method to split the DSL traffic off of the same line. You can use your phone line and your DSL simultaneously. If you have a second line for faxing or using a modem, you may continue to do so without affecting the DSL.

Will my phone number change?
No. DSL does not affect your phone number in any way.

Do I need a new modem?
DSL does not actually use a modem. Many Internet Service Providers sites refer to the DSL terminal adapter as a modem, which it is not. You will need to purchase a DSL terminal adapter from US West. There are several forms of these, including an internal PCI version. We recommend purchasing the external Cisco 675 DSL terminal adapter/router. The Cisco 675 is currently $295 from US West. US West runs specials where the DSL adapter, Ethernet card and a $40 gift certificate or combinations of these are free. You will want to talk to your US West representative to check if any specials are available.

Do I need an Ethernet Card?
If you purchase the Cisco 675, you will. We recommend this method, as it offers the most expandability. US West provides several variations, so check with them before purchasing anything. If you are unsure about opening your computer to add an Ethernet card, US West will come out and do it for you for an additional charge. Check with them about pricing.

Are there any hidden costs?
No. There are no additional costs from Minnesota OnLine other than your signup fee and monthly bill. The only time you will be charged extra is for incidents violating our Acceptable Use Policy or if you run a Commercial server on a personal account.

What speeds are available for Personal DSL Service?
Personal DSL service is available in 256 kilobit, 512 kilobit and 768 kilobit speeds. This is subject to availability from US West. If you are unable to go higher than 256 kilobit due to line quality or availability issues, obviously you wouldn’t want 768k service.

What is provided with your Personal DSL Internet Accounts?
With Personal DSL Accounts, you will receive 1 E-mail account and 5 megabytes of web space for your own personal homepage. We will also provide you with software if needed.

I already have a Dial-Up or ISDN connection with Minnesota OnLine. Will anything change if I move to DSL?
Yes and No. You will no longer need to dial into Minnesota OnLine, so you will lose your dial-up account. However, your e-mail username and password will remain the same, as will your personal web site if you have one. Also, your original sign-up fee will be credited towards the DSL signup fee.

How is DSL connected at Minnesota OnLine?
Minnesota OnLine functions as a US West Megapop. This means we are directly connected to their ATM backbone network, where all the DSL lines exist. From that connection, it goes directly into our core Router, and out through our multiple Internet backbone connections. That means you are 1 hop away from the Internet (as opposed to 3+ with most other Internet providers)!
What do you recommend purchasing for DSL users?
We recommend getting the Cisco 675 DSL Router and a 10/100 base T Ethernet card. US West can provide these for you when you sign up with them for DSL. The second item we recommend is a fast machine! If you have a 386 or 486, you probably won't benefit much from DSL since the limitation is most likely your machine. We recommend at least a Pentium 150 with 32 megabytes of RAM if you will be using DSL.

Can I use a fax machine or modem with my DSL line?
Yes. DSL works in a different frequency range than a standard phone call. Once your phone call goes out, the phone call is sent to US West’s phone network, while your DSL connection is sent to US West’s DSL/Data network.

Are there any compatibility issues with DSL and my current phone line?
There may be. Most of the DSL incompatibilities have to do with business line functions such as centrex lines. You can get more information on this when you do the line check through US West.

Can I run any commercial servers on my DSL account?
    No. We do not allow commercial traffic on personal DSL accounts. Also, your IP address will change every so often so you will not be able to run a server. If you need a static IP address or wish to run any type of commercial server on your DSL Line, look at the commercial/business DSL pricing.

Can I run a Personal Web Server on my DSL account?
    No. We provide personal web space on our server for you to use.

I currently have DSL service with another ISP. How do I switch my DSL connection over to Minnesota OnLine?
You can switch your service by doing the following:
Go to the US West DSL web site: http://megawot.uswest.com. From there, you can modify your current DSL account. Select "Change Existing Service" from this menu. You will then be asked to enter your telephone number and the last four digits of your social security number or your 3-digit US West account code. Follow the on-screen instructions. When you get to the portion asking you which ISP you would like to use, select Minnesota OnLine on the pull-down menu. You must then contact your current Internet Service Provider to cancel service, as well as contact Minnesota OnLine to begin service.

I ordered my DSL line, but US West hasn't installed it yet. Can you give me an update on when it will be installed?
No. US West will be able to provide you information on your installation status. If you have questions, contact US West at 1-800-573-1311.

Who can I contact at US West if I have questions?
 
We recommend that you speak with XXXXXX at US West. You can reach him at: 1-800-872-4658 Ext. XXXXXX

Who can I contact at Minnesota OnLine if I have questions?
You can contact Minnesota OnLine's Technical Support Department at (651) 225-1110. Technical Support is available 7 days a week. You can also reach Technical Support by sending an e-mail to support@state.net.
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