Analyzing The Differences Between DSL and Fixed Wireless Internet

Analyzing The Differences Between DSL and Fixed Wireless Internet

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and fixed wireless internet are two internet solutions that businesses often compare when choosing a broadband service. Although many individuals view all internet connections as the same, the method used to support that connection can make all the difference. We analyze one of the first methods of connectivity, DSL, and compare it to the increasingly popular, fixed wireless internet solution.

What is DSL?

DSL is advertised as a high-speed internet service. It provides a connection over ordinary phone lines. DSL became popular because unlike dial-up, the broadband modem technology allows for both internet and telephone service to be used at the same time. There are many variants of DSL, with newer versions, such as Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), offering improved speeds and benefits.

Issues with DSL

DSL has been around for quite some time, however, there are several problems associated with this type of service:

  • Speed is limited by distance - The speed of DSL service decreases with distance from the local exchange so if your office is not located close to the provider, you will experience delays.
  • Speeds are not up to modern standard - Dated copper telephone wiring compared to wireless infrastructure and fiber optic cables mean all variants of DSL lag behind. Slow download speeds can hinder typical online activities while slow upload speeds can restrict the ability to add files and manage cloud-based applications.
  • Usage restriction - Although less of a problem today, DSL users can experience a spotty connection if phone usage becomes heavy. This is because DSL makes use of spare phone lines so to handle the extra call volume, telephone providers are forced to use the extra DSL lines.

Benefits of DSL

Despite the flaws listed above, some businesses or residential locations may find that DSL can meet their needs. Some of the advantages of using DSL include:

  • No new cables - As DSL works over traditional telephone wiring, there is no need for additional wiring.
  • Cost - The previous point contributes to this along with the fact that line access from a telephone provider is inexpensive. However, keep in mind that the lower cost is also associated with slower speeds and reduced quality compared to more expensive alternatives.
  • Availability - Often readily available in densely populated areas.
  • Phone lines unaffected - Although this is expected with any broadband service today, phone lines remain available when online.

What is Fixed Wireless?

Fixed wireless compares favorably versus DSL internet

Fixed wireless utilizes a microwave signal to beam radio waves from a transmitter location, or Point of Presence (PoP), to a receiver location at another fixed location. There are no wires involved (as you may have guessed from the name), but the connection does require a clear line of sight between receiver and transmitter radios for this type of service to work.

This method of connectivity is growing in popularity with 8.1 million subscribers expected to be using this technology by 2021. The lack of equipment required makes fixed wireless a viable alternative to traditional wired solutions, particularly for organizations seeking a cost-effective internet service.

Issues with Fixed Wireless

However, as with any internet service, there are some drawbacks:

  • Reliance on line of sight - A connection between receiver and transmitter radios cannot be made if there are obstructions between the two points. Fixed wireless internet providers often have methods of relaying a connection to minimize the issue but wherever possible, a line of sight is highly desired.
  • Fixed wireless tends to be more expensive than DSL - Due to the improvement in technology and infrastructure, users can expect to pay more for fixed wireless. This cost can be anticipated to decline as more subscribers make use of the service

Benefits of Fixed Wireless

  • No cables - DSL relies on telephone wires. Fixed wireless’ reliance on radio transmitters means that businesses that choose to deploy this method of connectivity, do not require any additional wiring.
  • Speed - fixed wireless is now capable of supporting download speeds of 1Gbps. This figure will continue to rise. Symmetrical bandwidth is also offered as the value of upload speeds become more significant.
  • Accessibility - fixed wireless is suitable for both urban and rural environments. If a local provider is available, installation can take a matter of days because the infrastructure is already in place. All that’s needed is a clear line of sight, the addition of a receiver radio to the customer’s building and some simple configuration.
  • Scalability - fixed wireless is often branded as “future-proof”. This is because bandwidth can be turned up or down based on the changing needs of an organization.
  • Local support - the average wireless internet service provider only has 1,200 customers. Operating on a local or regional basis means that fixed wireless providers understand the local community and can focus on providing excellent customer service

The Outcome

DSL holds value for those who are not overly-reliant on the internet. It can provide a working connection at a low cost. However, in areas where it is available, fixed wireless represents a more effective option. With far superior speeds and a more stable connection, fixed wireless offers a modern, cable-free alternative to DSL.


If you have any questions about fixed wireless internet and how it could benefit your business, please contact us at 404-303-9900 or email our team at sales@oneringnetworks.com.

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