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Asymmetric digital subscriber line 1

Asymmetric digital subscriber line

DSL technologies


ADSL ANSI T1.413 Issue 2

ITU G.992.1 (G.DMT)
ITU G.992.2 (G.Lite)

ADSL2 ITU G.992.3/4

ITU G.992.3 Annex J
ITU G.992.3 Annex L

ADSL2+ ITU G.992.5

ITU G.992.5 Annex M

HDSL ITU G.991.1









VDSL ITU G.993.1

VDSL2 ITU G.993.2

Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) is a form

of DSL, 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.[1] A splitter - or microfilter - 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 central office, typically less than 4 kilometres
(2 mi),[2] but has been known to exceed 8 kilometres
(5 mi) if the originally laid wire gauge allows for farther A gateway is commonly used to make
distribution. an ADSL connection. The model
pictured is also a wireless access
At the telephone exchange the line generally terminates point, hence the antenna.
at a DSLAM where another frequency splitter separates
the voice band signal for the conventional phone network. Data carried by the ADSL is
typically routed over the telephone company's data network and eventually reaches a
conventional internet network.
Asymmetric digital subscriber line 2

The distinguishing characteristic of ADSL over other forms of DSL is that the volume of
data flow is greater in one direction than the other, i.e. it is asymmetric. Providers usually
market ADSL as a service for consumers to connect to the Internet 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.

How ADSL works

On the wire
Currently, most ADSL communication is full-duplex. Full-duplex ADSL communication is
usually achieved on a wire pair by either frequency-division duplex (FDD), echo-cancelling
duplex (ECD), or time-division duplexing (TDD). FDD uses two separate frequency bands,
referred to as the upstream and downstream bands. The upstream band is used for
communication from the end user to the telephone central office. The downstream band is
used for communicating from the central office to the end user.
With standard ADSL (annex A), the band from
25.875 kHz to 138 kHz is used for upstream
communication, while 138 kHz – 1104 kHz is used for
downstream communication. Each of these is further
divided into smaller frequency channels of 4.3125 kHz.
These frequency channels are sometimes termed bins.
During initial training, the ADSL modem tests each of Frequency plan for ADSL. The red area
the bins to establish the signal-to-noise ratio at each is the frequency range used by normal
voice telephony (PSTN), the green
bin's frequency. The distance from the telephone
(upstream) and blue (downstream)
exchange and the characteristics of the cable mean that areas are used for ADSL.
some frequencies may not propagate well, and noise on
the copper wire, interference from AM radio stations and local interference and electrical
noise at the customer end mean that relatively high levels of noise are present at some
frequencies, so considering both effects the signal-to-noise ratio in some bins (at some
frequencies) may be good or completely inadequate. A bad signal-to-noise ratio measured at
certain frequencies will mean that those bins will not be used, resulting in a reduced
maximum link capacity but with an otherwise functional ADSL connection.
Asymmetric digital subscriber line 3

The DSL modem will make a plan on how to exploit each of the bins sometimes termed "bits
per bin" allocation. Those bins that have a good signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) will be chosen to
transmit signals chosen from a greater number of possible encoded values (this range of
possibilities equating to more bits of data sent) in each main clock cycle. The number of
possibilities must not be so large that the receiver might mishear which one was intended
in the presence of noise. Noisy bins may only be required to carry as few as two bits, a
choice from only one of four possible patterns, or only one bit per bin in the case of
ADSL2+, and really noisy bins are not used at all. If the pattern of noise versus frequencies
heard in the bins changes, the DSL modem can alter the bits-per-bin allocations, in a
process called "bitswap", where bins that have become more noisy are only required to
carry fewer bits and other channels will be chosen to be given a higher burden. The data
transfer capacity the DSL modem therefore reports is determined by the total of the
bits-per-bin allocations of all the bins combined. Higher signal-to-noise ratios and more bins
being in use gives a higher total link capacity, while lower signal-to-noise ratios or fewer
bins being used gives a low link capacity.
The total maximum capacity derived from summing the bits-per-bins is reported by DSL
modems and is sometimes termed sync rate. This will always be rather misleading as the
true maximum link capacity for user data transfer rate will be significantly lower because
extra data is transmitted that is termed protocol overhead, a reduced figure of around
84-87% at most for PPPoA connections being a common example. In addition some ISPs will
have traffic policies that limit maximum transfer rates further in the networks beyond the
exchange, and traffic congestion on the Internet, heavy loading on servers and slowness or
inefficiency in customers' computers may all contribute to reductions below the maximum
The choices the DSL modem make can also be either conservative, where the modem
chooses to allocate fewer bits per bin than it possibly could, a choice which makes for a
slower connection, or less conservative in which more bits per bin are chosen in which case
there is a greater risk case of error should future signal-to-noise ratios deteriorate to the
point where the bits-per-bin allocations chosen are too high to cope with the greater noise
present. This conservatism involving a choice to using fewer bits per bin as a safeguard
against future noise increases is reported as the signal-to-noise ratio margin or SNR
margin. The telephone exchange can indicate a suggested SNR margin to the customer's
DSL modem when it initially connects, and the modem may make its bits-per-bin allocation
plan accordingly. A high SNR margin will mean a reduced maximum throughput but
greater reliability and stability of the connection. A low SNR margin will mean high speeds
provided the noise level does not increase too much, otherwise the connection will have to
be dropped and renegotiated (resynced). ADSL2+ can better accommodate such
circumstances, offering a feature termed seamless rate adaptation (SRA), which can
accommodate changes in total link capacity with less disruption to communications.
Vendors may support usage of higher frequencies as a proprietary extension to the
standard. However, this requires matching vendor-supplied equipment on both ends of the
line, and will likely result in crosstalk problems that affect other lines in the same bundle.
There is a direct relationship between the number of channels available and the throughput
capacity of the ADSL connection. The exact data capacity per channel depends on the
modulation method used.
Asymmetric digital subscriber line 4

ADSL initially existed in two flavours (similar to VDSL), namely CAP and DMT. CAP was the
de facto standard for ADSL deployments up until 1996, deployed in 90 percent of ADSL
installs at the time. However, DMT was chosen for the first ITU-T ADSL standards, G.992.1
and G.992.2 (also called G.dmt and G.lite respectively). Therefore all modern installations
of ADSL are based on the DMT modulation scheme.

ADSL standards

Frequency spectrum of a modem on a

ADSL line.

Standard name Common name Downstream rate Upstream rate Approved in

ANSI T1.413-1998 Issue 2 ADSL 8 Mbit/s 1.0 Mbit/s 1998

ITU G.992.1 ADSL (G.DMT) 12 Mbit/s 1.3 Mbit/s 1999-07

ITU G.992.1 Annex A ADSL over POTS 12 Mbit/s 1.3 Mbit/s

ITU G.992.1 Annex B ADSL over ISDN 12 Mbit/s 1.8 Mbit/s

ITU G.992.2 ADSL Lite (G.Lite) 1.5 Mbit/s 0.5 Mbit/s 1999-07

ITU G.992.3 ADSL2 12 Mbit/s 1.0 Mbit/s 2002-07

ITU G.992.3 Annex J ADSL2 12 Mbit/s 3.5 Mbit/s

ITU G.992.3 Annex L RE-ADSL2 5 Mbit/s 0.8 Mbit/s

ITU G.992.4 splitterless ADSL2 1.5 Mbit/s 0.5 Mbit/s 2002-07

ITU G.992.5 ADSL2+ 24 Mbit/s 1.0 Mbit/s 2003-05

ITU G.992.5 Annex M ADSL2+M 24 Mbit/s 3.5 Mbit/s

Annexes J and M shift the upstream/downstream frequency split up to 276 kHz (from 138
kHz used in the commonly deployed annex A) in order to boost upstream rates.
Additionally, the "all-digital-loop" variants of ADSL2 and ADSL2+ (annexes I and J) support
an extra 256 kbit/s of upstream if the bandwidth normally used for POTS voice calls is
allocated for ADSL usage.
ADSL1 access utilizes the 1.1 MHz band, and ADSL2+ utilizes the 2.2 MHz band.
The downstream and upstream rates displayed are theoretical maxima. Note also that
because digital subscriber line access multiplexers and ADSL modems may have been
implemented based on differing or incomplete standards some manufacturers may
advertise different speeds. For example, Ericsson has several devices that support
non-standard upstream speeds of up to 2 Mbit/s in ADSL2 and ADSL2+.
Asymmetric digital subscriber line 5

Installation issues
Due to the way it uses the frequency spectrum, ADSL deployment presents some issues. It
is necessary to install appropriate frequency filters at the customer's premises, to avoid
interference with the voice service, while at the same time taking care to keep a clean
signal level for the ADSL connection.
In the early days of DSL, installation required a technician to visit the premises. A splitter
or microfilter was installed near the demarcation point, from which a dedicated data line
was installed. This way, the DSL signal is separated earlier and is not attenuated inside the
customer premises. However, this procedure is costly, and also caused problems with
customers complaining about having to wait for the technician to perform the installation.
As a result, many DSL vendors started offering a self-install option, in which they ship
equipment and instructions to the customer. Instead of separating the DSL signal at the
demarcation point, the opposite is done: the DSL signal is filtered at each phone outlet by
use of a low-pass filter for voice and a high-pass filter for data, usually enclosed in what is
known as a microfilter. This microfilter can be plugged directly into any phone jack, and
does not require any rewiring at the customer's premises.
A side effect of the move to the self-install model is that the DSL signal can be degraded,
especially if more than 5 voiceband devices are connected to the line. The DSL signal is
now present on all telephone wiring in the building, causing attenuation and echo. A way to
circumvent this is to go back to the original model, and install one filter upstream from all
telephone jacks in the building, except for the jack to which the DSL modem will be
connected. Since this requires wiring changes by the customer and may not work on some
household telephone wiring, it is rarely done. It is usually much easier to install filters at
each telephone jack that is in use.
DSL signals may be degraded by older telephone lines, surge protectors, poorly designed
microfilters, radio frequency interference, electrical noise, and by long telephone extension
cords. Telephone extension cords are typically made with small-gauge multi-strand copper
conductors, which are more susceptible to electromagnetic interference and have more
attenuation than single-strand copper wires typically wired to telephone jacks. These
effects are especially significant where the customer's phone line is more than 4km from
the DSLAM in the telephone exchange, which causes the signal levels to be lower relative
to any local noise and attenuation. This will have the effect of reducing speeds or causing
connection failures.

See also
• British telephone sockets
• Broadband Internet access
• Digital subscriber line for further details and other varieties
• Digital subscriber line access multiplexer
• ADSL loop extender can be used to expand the reach and rate of ADSL services.
• Filter and splitter.
• Symmetric digital subscriber line
• Rate-adaptive digital subscriber line (RADSL)
• Flat rate
• Attenuation distortion
• ADSL max
Asymmetric digital subscriber line 6

• List of device bandwidths

• Single-pair high-speed digital subscriber line (SHDSL)

External links
• ADSL Theory [3] — Information about the background & workings of ADSL, and the
factors involved in achieving a good sync between your modem and the DSLAM.
• (The UNH-IOL DSL Knowledge Base (advanced tutorials) [4])
• ADSL Research Report [5]
• ADSL Tutorial [6]
• DSL How-To [7] Complete guide from scratch; how to install cabling & service, and
configure a Linux-based machine as an advanced/sophisticated router.
• Various ADSL Technical Information [8]

Internet access

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[1] ANSI T1.413-1998 “Network and Customer Installation Interfaces – Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line
(ADSL) Metallic Interface.” (American National Standards Institute 1998)
[2] Data and Computer Communications, William Stallings, ISBN 0132433109, ISBN 978-0132433105
[3] http:/ / whirlpool. net. au/ wiki/ ?tag=ADSL_Theory
[4] http:/ / www. iol. unh. edu/ training/ dsl/
[5] http:/ / www. esatclear. ie/ ~aodhoh/ adsl/ report. html
[6] http:/ / www2. rad. com/ networks/ 2005/ adsl/ main. htm
[7] http:/ / www. tldp. org/ HOWTO/ DSL-HOWTO/
[8] http:/ / www. systemtek. co. uk/ TechDocs/ Telecom_General/ ADSL_Tech_docs. htm
Article Sources and Contributors 7

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R King, Adashiel, Adoniscik, Aitias, Ajunne, Alan Liefting, Albanaco, Aldie, Aleksandar L, Alex,, Amosshapira, Andrewpmk, Androsyn,
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