After making the decision to get broadband internet you’ve probably started making the rounds calling various providers, but now you’re confused as to which type of ADSL to go for. If you’re not a technical whiz, why do these companies assume you know the difference between ADSL and ADSL2+ internet? Let us explain things: ADSL, ADSL2 and ADSL2+ are simply different speeds of broadband.
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ADSL, or ADSL1 as it’s often called, is the most basic form of broadband internet brought to your home via an active telephone landline’s copper wire. Strangely enough, within ADSL1 there are four different speeds you can purchase, so you need to make sure you’re getting what you pay for. The maximum speed a basic ADSL connection can run is at 8,192kbps/384kbps. The four possible ADSL speeds are 256kbps/64kbps, 512kbps/128kbps, 1,500kbps/256kbps and the premium 8,192kbps/384kbps speed.
ADSL 256kbps/64kbps speed:
ADSL with a download speed of 256kbps (kbps equals ‘kilobytes per second’) is the most basic form of broadband. As dial-up internet has download speeds of up to 64kbps, this is a real step up for those who’ve never experienced broadband before, but when compared with the range of other available speeds in today’s market, this is still very slow. If you’re into watching YouTube videos, making Skype calls, or online gaming, it simply won’t be suitable.
*Note: Plan speeds are named after their download speed (the first speed in a numbered pair like 256kbps/64kbps). The second speed listed is the upload speed. Uploads are when you add attachments to an email, or put up photos onto your Facebook account. Everything else you do whilst online uses your download speed (and download data). Some internet providers charge for both uploads and downloads, whereas others only charge for downloads, so it’s worth finding out about each plan’s finer details.
ADSL 512kbps/128kbps speed:
A 512kbps download speed is of course twice as fast as 256kbps, but it’s still fairly slow for people who want to utilise modern software programs and functionality. However, for those who aren’t in a hurry, and who only use the internet for email, banking and general surfing, this can be a cheap alternative.
ADSL 1,500kbps/256kbps speed:
A 1,500kbps ADSL speed is what most people who can’t yet receive ADSL2+ go for. This speed of broadband is quick, still cheap, and you can do just about everything you need to do on the web without having to wait for things to load up. This will be your first experience of instantaneous access to the internet, with videos and online TV or podcasts playing as soon as you click on their relevant links.
The only instances where a 1,500kbps speed won’t be suitable are when you have a home network with several computers whose users are all attempting to watch online videos at the same time, or if your home is so far from the telephone exchange the speed of your connection diminishes greatly before reaching your property.
ADSL 8,192kbps/384kbps speed:
This is the fastest speed you can get on an ADSL1 connection. Comparable to ADSL 2 speeds, you will have to pay a premium price, but if ADSL2+ isn’t currently available in your area and speed is important to you, this will be your best option. Check out Exetel’s FP-D1 8,192kbps $75.00 plan with 30GB in the peak time, and 60GB of downloads in the off-peak time, for a start to your search.
ADSL2 has speeds of up to 12,000kbps, or 12mbps (megabits per second), but this speed is not common in Australia, as the ADSL2+ market has become the dominant speed consumers are demanding.
ADSL2+ is currently the fastest speed you can sign up to in the Australian ADSL broadband industry. Ironically, the ADSL2+ service is cheaper than ADSL1, as it’s a much more competitive market. Faster and cheaper! With speeds of up to 24,000 kbps (24 megabits per second) this is blisteringly fast internet where numerous computers in one home or business can all be online simultaneously, without any issues of loading time or download lag. To use ADSL2+ you need to ensure you have an ADSL2+ enabled modem, as a normal ADSL modem can only run at a maximum of 8,192kbps.
Like all types of ADSL broadband, the further you live or work from the telephone exchange will have an impact on the final speed your ADSL2+ connection is when it enters your home or business. Some internet providers can tell you what speed to expect by analysing the possible cable distance from the exchange to your residence.
Naked DSL is where you have ADSL2+ internet running into your home via a copper phone line, but you deactivate the telephone aspect of the line, so you don’t need to pay for phone rental as a separate charge. BUT (and this is very important) you will find it isn't cheaper. This is because your ISP is still paying a line rental, and so they inflate the price of Naked DSL to cover that charge.
This type of connection only works with ADSL2+, and the internet provider must have ports in your local exchange that are Naked DSL capable.
When signing up to an ADSL or ADSL2+ plan, it’s in your best interest to see if the plan is ‘shaped’ (slowed down) when you reach your download limit, and if so, what speed you’ll be shaped to. Shaping speeds can range from a dial-up speed of 64kbps all the way up to 4mbps (4,000kbps) as it is on the TPG Super Fast Premium ADSL2+ 150GB plan for $89.99.
Some providers don’t slow your connection down, but charge excess usage fees ranging from 15 cents a megabyte (MB) to 50 cents a Gigabyte (GB), so it’s in your interest to see whether or not you’ll be shaped, what speed it’ll be shaped to, or if not slowed down, how much you’ll be charged for excess usage.
When researching which ADSL speeds are available at your local telephone exchange, you need to be aware that various internet providers enable different exchanges, so just because one provider can’t give you ADSL2+ in your location, it doesn’t mean they all can’t. BigPond can provide ADSL2+ broadband just about anywhere in Australia (Telstra owns the nation’s major copper wire infrastructure), but they are the least competitive pricewise.
Other internet providers need to pay large amounts of money to enable an exchange with their own ADSL2+ enabled DSLAM, so they usually set up shop first in metropolitan areas where they know they’ll make their money back, as the population is more dense in city locations. After enabling these exchanges the companies move outwards through the suburbs.
*Note: Just because a provider has ADSL2+ at your local exchange doesn’t mean the service will always be available for you. Each provider is allotted a specific amount of ports for their customers at an exchange, and if they’ve rented all of them out you may have to look for a different service provider.