Best DSL Internet Provider of 2023
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If you’re a digital native, it may be hard to imagine how slow the internet was back in the 1990s.
Dial-up internet service was the rule. Back then, every telephone call to your house would throw you off the internet. It was pure crazy-making. Gen Xers remember well the high-pitched whining sounds of the dial-up modem trying to connect…and trying…and trying.
DSL internet saved the day by introducing a faster and more reliable connection. Now, DSL is one of the oldest internet technologies on the market. But it still works! And plenty of people in the USA need to use DSL because they don’t have access to other types of wired internet.
Are you choosing an internet provider or thinking about switching to a new ISP? If DSL is one of your internet options, you’ve come to the right place to learn more about it.
Here, you can explore what makes good DSL internet. You’ll find out exactly how DSL stacks up to the other internet options in your area. And this article will also name some of the best DSL Internet providers of 2023. When you’re finished reading, you’ll be well-informed and ready to choose the kind of internet that’s right for you.
What Is DSL Internet?
DSL, which stands for Digital Subscriber Line, is a type of internet connection that uses existing copper telephone lines to transmit data. DSL provides a reliable and stable connection by using a different frequency range than traditional voice calls. DSL is a common internet choice for many households because it is available in so many places that don’t have cable or fiber internet service.
Some internet companies also call DSL-based service by a different name, “Internet Protocol Broadband,” or IPBB. IPBB usually refers to a DSL network that uses updated technology and some fiber-optic lines to deliver better DSL service.
Pros & Cons of DSL Internet
Availability: DSL is widely available across the United States. DSL is an important tool to get more people online, especially in areas where cable or fiber-optic infrastructure doesn’t exist.
Reliability: DSL offers a stable and consistent connection for many users. Your connection will be better if you live close to the provider’s central office or if your DSL provider has an upgraded network such as IPBB.
Superior to dial-up technology: DSL allows you to use the internet and make phone calls simultaneously. DSL is also faster than dial-up, though DSL speeds vary widely.
Distance-dependent: DSL performance gets worse when you are farther from the DSL provider’s central office. Again, neighbors or sites like NextDoor.com can be a great help in sleuthing out what to expect from your DSL.
Speeds vary widely: DSL download speeds can vary from under 1 Mbps to over 100 Mbps. The FCC recommends a minimum of 25 Mbps download speed for your connection to qualify as “high-speed internet”. Upload speeds for DSL are even slower. If you get an upload speed between 1-2 Mbps, it may be difficult to videoconference without glitching, especially if you have more than one user online at the same time.
Understanding DSL Speeds and Pricing
This is important because unlike many other ISPs, DSL providers don’t usually try to sell you a range of different speeds at differing prices. Instead, they usually offer you the fastest speed they think your home can support, whether that’s 12 Mbps or 75 Mbps download. And frequently, no matter what your actual speed, your DSL price will be about the same. So, you will pay about $50 for DSL, in many cases, whether it’s faster or slower. You can see that DSL internet uses a very different pricing model from fiber or cable.
DSL Internet vs. Other Types of Internet Connection
DSL vs. Dial-Up
DSL continues to be much faster than dial-up. Dial-up moves at a snail’s pace for today’s internet standards, but DSL can often keep up with broadband speeds. On the whole, dial-up is the least desirable internet choice of all. DSL will always give you better performance than dial-up. Dial-up is so slow that any alternative would be preferable to dial-up, including satellite internet or fixed wireless internet.
DSL vs. Cable
DSL generally offers slower speeds compared to cable internet. Though a few DSL connections can get up to 100 Mbps download speed, they are rare. 10-40 Mbps is much more common. Cable internet, by contrast, often provides download speeds up to 300, 500, or even 1000 Mbps. DSL does avoid network congestion issues, but in general, a cable internet connection will offer better performance. In many cases, DSL and cable internet will cost about the same, but you will get much higher speeds from cable for the price.
DSL vs. Fiber-optic
Fiber-optic internet is currently the fastest and most reliable internet option available, offering much higher speeds than DSL. Fiber internet also offers symmetrical upload and download speeds. And fiber internet will also usually be much cheaper than DSL for the speeds you get from each. For example, you might pay $50/month to get 25 Mbps download from DSL, but you would get 200 Mbps download *and* upload speeds from a similar fiber plan. However, despite DSL’s slower speeds, DSL performs valuable work by connecting many rural areas and small towns to the digital world. DSL can provide reliable home internet in these areas that lack cable or fiber.
DSL vs. Satellite
Satellite internet is a good option for those in remote areas where other types of connections are not available. Satellite offers nationwide coverage to any household with a clear view of the southern sky. But satellite internet can be affected by weather conditions and typically comes with higher latency compared to DSL. The choice between DSL and satellite is often the most complex because of the wide variations in DSL speeds. Make sure that if you are making this choice, you get a really accurate picture of the speeds you would get from each technology. Some satellite internet connections are faster and more reliable than very slow DSL.
Top DSL Internet Providers
Best DSL Internet Provider of 2023
AT&T Internet is one of the leading DSL providers in the United States, matching its similar strength in the fiber internet market.
AT&T offers IPBB, which gives you a blend of copper DSL service and fiber-optic cables. If you get IPBB, you are likely to have a better range of speeds than your speed with a more copper-based DSL network.
One of the strengths of AT&T Internet is that the company divides internet service into a large number of speed tiers. Because of this precision, it may be easier for you to get an accurate idea of what speeds your DSL/IPBB will offer you. It’s easy enough to remember that AT&T Internet 25 will give you about 25 Mbps download speed and 2-5 Mbps upload speed.
Above all, AT&T will give you reliable connectivity and a large, smooth operations base across 21 states. And with AT&T, you will get strong customer support available through chat, website, or telephone 24/7.
Brightspeed is a fairly new ISP, but already 12th-largest in the nation. Brightspeed offers reliable DSL Internet service and a simple pricing plan. They prioritize customer satisfaction and aim to deliver fast and consistent internet connections. Brightspeed has a strong commitment to building out fiber in its service area, so even if you don’t have a fiber option now, you may get one soon. In the meantime, they will provide DSL from a copper network that they took over from CenturyLink in fall 2022. Brightspeed plans have no data caps or required contracts.
CenturyLink is another national DSL provider with service in multiple states. They have a solid network infrastructure and provide reliable DSL Internet services. Like AT&T, they will offer you a DSL plan with a specific speed number attached, e.g., CenturyLink 40 (40 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload). This plan name will give you a general idea of the speed you will be getting, though you should always double-check actual speed with a speed test. Like many DSL companies, CenturyLink charges the same price for its DSL service whether you get 12 Mbps or 100 Mbps download speed. CenturyLink DSL has no data caps or required contracts.
Earthlink is a well-established internet service provider offering DSL plans with competitive speeds and reliable performance. Earthlink is known for its slightly higher prices but excellent customer service. Earthlink also offers you unlimited data and no required annual contracts. Most DSL plans start at around $50, and Earthlink’s first-tier plan is only a few dollars higher. But if you get one of their faster DSL speeds, such as 75 Mbps download/8 Mbps upload, you will pay around $70/month. Just be sure to compare your Earthlink potential speed with speeds offered by any other DSL providers in the area to make sure it’s worth the extra cost.
Frontier provides high-quality DSL services, delivering reliable connectivity to residential and business customers alike. One big advantage of Frontier’s DSL is that it currently comes with a 24-month price lock. Frontier asks for a flat rate around $50 for whatever speed you happen to get at your household, like most DSL providers. With no data caps and no required contracts, you can rest easy that your Frontier plan won’t impose unexpected overage charges or early termination fees.
Kinetic by Windstream is a reputable DSL provider that offers a range of plans with reliable speeds and consistent performance. Kinetic does not impose data caps or require contracts. Users often report being happy with Windstream’s customer service. Windstream is available in 18 states primarily in the east, central, and southern United States. Because Windstream serves many rural areas, it has wide geographic coverage but not as many customers as a larger company such as AT&T. The FCC shows that Windstream’s DSL speeds are faster than many of its competitors, with broadband speeds available to over 85% of its DSL customers.
How to Choose the Best DSL Internet Provider
When selecting a good DSL internet provider for your needs, the most important factor is to remember that DSL speed may vary from one street to the next. But in general, you can also look for the following characteristics from a top DSL provider.
Availability: National providers offer DSL services across multiple states. Enter your zip code to see which DSL providers serve your area.
Speed options: After you see the plan options, make sure that the speed package available to you is one that will meet your internet needs.
Reliability: Look for the top providers known for delivering stable and consistent connections, like the ISPs listed in this article.
Customer support: Read our customer reviews and ratings to assess the quality of customer support provided by the provider.
Pricing and plans: Compare pricing and plans offered by different providers to find the best value for your budget. Ask yourself whether DSL is the right connection for you given what else might be available in your area.
How Does DSL Internet Work?
What to Expect from a DSL Internet Connection
If your speed is above 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload, you will be able to do most common internet activities without trouble. Console gaming and videoconferencing may need more speed, especially if there are several people in your household using the internet at once. But if DSL is your only wired option, it may still be your fastest choice. You’ll have to compare satellite speeds and fixed wireless speeds to be certain, if those connections are available at your home.
DSL Internet Installation
Modem setup: The provider will provide you with a DSL modem or guide you through the process of purchasing one. Set up the modem by following the provided instructions.
Connection setup: Connect the DSL modem to your telephone jack using the provided cables and filters, if necessary.
Activation and configuration: Once the physical setup is complete, the provider will activate your DSL service and guide you through any necessary configuration steps.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get DSL Internet in my area?
Can I use DSL internet for gaming or streaming?
Can I use my existing telephone line for DSL internet?
Is DSL internet secure?
 Federal Communications Commission. “Broadband Speed Guide.”
 Wikipedia. “Digital Subscriber Line.”
 Federal Communications Commission. “2015 Broadband Progress Report.”
 ATT.com. “DSL High-Speed Internet.”
 FCC National Broadband Map. “Providers: Kinetic by Windstream.”
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