Definition of ADSL connection
Asymmetric digital subscriber line
) is a type of digital subscriber line technology, a data communications technology that enables faster data transmission over copper telephone lines than a conventional voiceband modem can provide. It does this by utilizing frequencies that are not used by a voice telephone call. A splitter, or DSL filter, allows a single telephone connection to be used for both ADSL service and voice calls at the same time. ADSL can generally only be distributed over short distances from the telephone exchange (the last mile), typically less than 4 kilometres (2 mi), but has been known to exceed 8 kilometres (5 mi) if the originally laid wire gauge allows for further distribution.
At the telephone exchange the line generally terminates at a digital subscriber line access multiplexer (DSLAM) where another frequency splitter separates the voice band signal for the conventional phone network. Data carried by the ADSL are typically routed over the telephone company's data network and eventually reach a conventional Internet Protocol network.
ADSL differs from the less common symmetric digital subscriber line (SDSL) in that bandwidth (and bit rate) is greater toward the customer premises (known as downstream) than the reverse (known as upstream). This is why it is called asymmetric. Providers usually market ADSL as a service for consumers to provide Internet access in a relatively passive mode: able to use the higher speed direction for the download from the Internet but not needing to run servers that would require high speed in the other direction.
There are both technical and marketing reasons why ADSL is in many places the most common type offered to home users. On the technical side, there is likely to be more crosstalk from other circuits at the DSLAM end (where the wires from many local loops are close to each other) than at the customer premises. Thus the upload signal is weakest at the noisiest part of the local loop, while the download signal is strongest at the noisiest part of the local loop. It therefore makes technical sense to have the DSLAM transmit at a higher bit rate than does the modem on the customer end. Since the typical home user in fact does prefer a higher download speed, the telephone companies chose to make a virtue out of necessity, hence ADSL. On the marketing side, limiting upload speeds limits the attractiveness of this service to business customers, often causing them to purchase higher cost leased line services instead. In this fashion, it segments the digital communications market between business and home users.
ADSL defines three "Transmission protocol-specific transmission convergence (TPS-TC)" layers:
- Synchronous Transport Module (STM), which allows the transmission of frames of the Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH)
- Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)
- Packet Transfer Mode (starting with ADSL2, see below)
In home installation, the prevalent transport protocol is ATM. On top of ATM, there are multiple possibilities of additional layers of protocols (two of them are abbreviated in a simplified manner as "PPPoA" or "PPPoE"), with the all-important TCP/IP at layer 4 of the OSI model providing the connection to the Internet.