DSL Network Guide Chapter 12: DSL Availability
If you've ever tried to order DSL to find it not available, had DSL not available and then found out later they finally upgraded your area, or have gotten mixed results from different departments of your local telco about DSL availability in your area you've probably wondered what's going on behind the scenes. This chapter should clear things up for you.
When your telco makes your local CO DSL ready there can still be many obstacles between the CO and your house that can prevent DSL availability. COs have copper wires that run out to the customers premises. Those wires do not always run in what might appear to be the most logical of direction. They can curve around blocks and go in completely different directions. Eventually one way or another those lines hit your house. The further that signal has to travel the more resistance is built up. At about 1,000 OHMs there is too much resistance on the line to offer a stable connection. 1,000 OHMs is generally reached around 1,750 feet on the wire. This is refered to as loop length. The longer your loop length the less speed your lines can handle.
Aside from physical length from your CO on the wire there are other factors that can cause resistance. Some of these include bridge taps, bad wires, (include more stuff here). Sometimes in order to provide telephone service to an area a pair gain will be places on your line. These bridge taps make deploying phone service to a new neighborhood cheaper but will also make your phone line completely unable to handle DSL.
These limitations can make the future of DSL in your home look bleak. Furtunately if a local RT is lit up for DSL then you could be in business. And because of the nature of RTs if your DSL order is RT based you are not subject to distance limitations and are eligable for all speed plans that your ISP offers.
There are a lot of factors that go into when and where an RT is made DSL ready. Local and federal laws about how telcos have to share their network can directly affect whether or not a telco thinks it's in their best interest financialy to spend that kind of money for a system they may have to share with competators. When the decision has been made to deploy an RT a telco is more likely to spend that money in a more upper-class well populated area that is likely to bring in lots of customers. Some telcos have a waiting list you can add yourself to so that they know which areas have more prospective DSL customers which may sway their decision to your area.
Some people have experienced a frustrating situation where their two neighbors have DSL but when they called in to customer service they have been told they do not qualify for DSL. As I stated above the wires running to your location can run in a way that is often not the most direct route. Each phone line has it's own loop and a neighboring phone line might not run through that same loop. There have even been situations where in the same house one phone line could not support DSL and another phone line in the house could support DSL at very good speeds. It is possible for the other phone line to run through a bridge tap or in another way not be able to support DSL while the other line is just fine.
If after all is said and done and your lines are clean for DSL there can still be one last obstacle. That is customer service. The sales reps for the ISP are equiped with tools to test your lines for DSL compatability. These test can test various aspects of your line to try and determine if you can get DSL and if so what speed packages your line can handle. Unfortunately these tests are not always right and can report incorectly. Another problem is that sometimes their database doesn't always have the most up to date information on deployed RTs. The same problem can occur if you run a prequal from the ISPs web site. And sometimes the web site and you customer service reps will give you conflicting information.
Making a customers line DSL ready is somewhat costly and because of that the telcos are reluctant to hook up your lines if they don't believe you will be able to get the service. On top of that people usually get their hopes up really high when they are sold DSL. When they finally go to hook up DSL and it doesn't work they get a little frustrated and have to call in to tech support. The support agent has to trouble shoot the issue then issue a ticket to have a line tech investigate. The line tech has tools that can tell 100% for sure if the line can handle DSL. Once it's been determined that the line will not handle DSL a disconnect order is placed and someone has to remove the DSL capability from the line. This whole process costs a lot of money to the ISP and usually gets the customer very upset at the company and that gives them a bad image. To avoid this the ISP usualy just doesn't sell service where it doesn't believe it can be offered.
Another important thing of note, if you are moving and you want to know if DSL is available at a certain house there is only so much you can do. Your best bet is to get the phone numbers of your closest neighbors-to-be or the current residence of the building if there is one and call up to see if their lines are DSL ready. If so chances are good that you will be good to go. Unfortunately the only way to be 100% certain if you can get DSL is to have phone service ready, order the DSL, wait for your due date and hook it up. Only then can you know whether or not you can get DSL.
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