While many are ecstatic about the super-fast internet connection that ISPs can offer through fiber, more people are forced to realize that it is a long time befor their particular neighbourhood gets that type of connection. In order to enjoy the speed of fiber, special cables must be buried and connected directly to one’s home. And even though fiber has increased its progress into homes around the world, the majority still have internet via regular TV cable or ADSL.
But how does it work? And what is best? ADSL or internet via TV cable?
How can you access the internet via regular cables?
But how does it work when internet data travels through a cable intended for either cable TV or a telephone line that, not too long ago, could only handle a 56k dial tone?
Now imagine this sound:
To understand how all this works, it actually helps to imagine that the telephone cables or TV cables that go into your house or apartment as common pipes. The phone call with your mom or Lord of the Rings, which they are showing for the hundredth time on TV 3, only takes up part of that pipes capacity. So the part of the pipe that would normally have been empty is now filled with lots of exciting internet content.
All these different signals are kept apart by the fact that the internet information is using a different frequency. Similar to how a regular FM radio can receive different radio channels depending on the frequency you are using.
ADSL is faster than the regular dial tone
So in cases where the internet goes through a telephone line, the telephone data itself takes up very little capacity, ie the available bandwidth. This explains how ADSL can be so much faster than a regular dial tone.
The old versions of the internet could only use the 56k dial tone dedicated to the telephony. That’s why things went very slowly, when it came to downloading and uploading stuff before. Remember when photos were uploaded one line at a time?
Suppliers made a difference between upload and download
In order to be able to increase the speed even more for the ordinary user, internet providers made sure that much more of the capacity goes to download than to upload. This is because most users download more information than they upload. Hence the name ADSL, Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, where the A stands for the asymmetric distribution.
If you need to upload a lot of data on the Internet instead, you can use SDSL, ie symmetrical DSL-internet instead.
Difference between internet via cable or ADSL via the telephone jack
So now we have determined how to get internet through a cable TV or ADSL via a telephone cable. But what is the difference between ADSL and the internet via the TV cable?
A big difference is that the internet via the TV cable is often shared with many others in your area. So if many are active and streaming movies in 4k or downloading games, then your speed may be affected. ADSL is instead a dedicated line, just for you.
However, ADSL comes with its own drawbacks, namely that the longer you are physically from your ISP, the slower the internet will get. DSL is not compatible with the signal amplifiers used by telecom companies to ensure that you have good sound quality in your calls.
Due to the problem of physical positioning, the internet via TV cable is often faster while ADSL via telephone cable is usually cheaper. Many people think that you need telephony in order to use ADSL, but this is usually not the case. Internet service providers deliver what is called Dry Loop, where fixed telephony is set up without you using it to make calls. This way you can access the internet via the telephone jack without having to pay for telephony.
If you want to read more about ADSL you can find more technical information here: