Difference Between DSL & ISDN


Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) are both copper phone line Internet connections limited in service by distance from a central office (CO), but the similarities end there. DSL is superior in nearly every relevant category.


  • In terms of connectivity, DSL is an always-on connection; ISDN works on a dial-up basis, meaning users must use a program to dial the connection and hang up the call to end it.


  • DSL download speeds can scale to as high as 8 Mbps; ISDN is limited to a maximum download speed of 384 Kbps, and more commonly 128 Kbps, which is only marginally faster than dial-up Internet.


  • ISDN is usually more expensive than DSL because it requires installation and DSL does not.


  • DSL requires a special modem or router issued by a service provider that is set up by a subscriber; ISDN requires no such special modem, but instead requires a terminal adapter to be connected to a computer, usually by an expert.


  • It is more likely that ISDN will be more available than DSL. This is because it is essentially two or more telephone lines used in conjunction.

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