Understanding How DSL Works

A special box called a DSL modem takes care of sending digital data from your PC to the phone company's central office over your phone line. Your PC can connect to the Internet with the same phone line that you use for your normal telephone calls — you can make voice calls even as the line is being used for DSL. Figure 13-1 shows a typical DSL connection to the Internet.

where phone wires come into your home

Figure 13-1: Connecting to the Internet Using DSL.

where phone wires come into your home

Figure 13-1: Connecting to the Internet Using DSL.

Your PC talks to the DSL modem through an Ethernet connection, which means that you need an Ethernet card in your Linux system.

Your PC sends digital data over the Ethernet connection to the DSL modem. The DSL modem sends the digital data at different frequencies than those used by the analog voice signals. The voice signals occupy a small portion of all the frequencies that the phone line can carry. DSL uses the higher frequencies to transfer digital data, so both voice and data can travel on the same phone line.

The distance between your home and the central office —the loop length —is a factor in DSL's performance. Unfortunately, the phone line can reliably carry the DSL signals only over a limited distance —typically three miles or less. This means that you can get DSL service only if your home (or office) is located within about three miles of your phone company's central office. Your phone company can tell you whether your location can get DSL or not. Often they have a website where you can type in your phone number and get a response about DSL availability. For example, try www .dslavailability.com/ for U.S. locations.

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