I originally signed up for Qwest DSL when it became available in my area many years ago. The first available package I had included 256k download speeds, and I gradually upgraded over the years to 512k, 1500k, and eventually my max which is now 3072k. I use my DSL connection primarily for web browsing and connecting to my home server. The other option in my area is MediaCom Cable, which offer high-speed cable modem access. At this time Qwest DSL is cheaper than MediaCom service, but not by much. It essentially comes down to what you prefer, either cable or DSL.

DSL Versus Cable

The general differences between DSL and Cable have really diminished over the years and now that both technologies are matured, the choice becomes one of personal preference and requirements. Qwest offers ADSL, which is in fact a more complicated technology than high speed cable. However once you figure out DSL, this difference no longer matters. With a DSL connection your TCP/IP packets are put into PPP packets which are then transmitted over an ATM connection. You then have three protocols of transmission: TCP/IP in PPP, PPP in ATM. The ATM layer adds about 10% overhead to the transmission size, so a 1024k connection is degraded into about 922k connection. This is probably the first thing to understand about actual DSL speed.

The other issue which concerns online gamers is delay. All networks have some sort of lag, and while the debate goes on as to which has less delay, Cable or DSL, the truth is that you have to try both services in your area to see which one in fact has less delay. One thing to consider about DSL is that you do not have to have Qwest as your ISP. You can choose between MSN and a variety of other ISPs, most of them being local internet service providers. I personally have always had a local ISP and have even switched ISPs. The process usually takes about four days to get done. Depending on your ISP with DSL, your network delay will vary. As of last week when I tested my lacency, the delay is equal to about 79 miliseconds for my 3072k connection.

DSL Modems & Routers

At this time, Qwest offers an excellent 2Wire router which includes wireless connections. As for going with a basic modem, I actually am using a Netopia 2240N modem in combination with a Linksys wireless router. This allows me more options and makes it easier to upgrade my wireless options in the future. If you are looking for the simple solution, then the 2Wire router from Qwest is your best option.

Changing your hardware or first installing it usually requires calling your third party ISP. They usually need to rebuild (or setup) your circuit (connection) to recognize your modem or router. Once they do that DSL is up and running. If you do not do this, the result is usually that your modem/router will connect to the ATM network (Qwest), but not be able to connect to the Internet (ISP’s network).

DSL Stability

On average DSL outages are rare. I have only had problems where my ISP has had network issues and at most the Qwest ATM connection has failed about three times. The vast majority of DSL issues will be on your end. DSL routers can get stuck and need an occasional reboot, but if configured correctly and adequately cooled, they usually can run for months without a restart.

DSL In The Future

Eventually ADSL2 will become the standard in the future. If you are replacing your DSL equipment make sure you keep ADSL2 compatibility in mind just in case Qwest rolls out ADSL2 in your area. ADSL2 can provide speeds up to 24 megabytes. The current ADSL Qwest uses now offers only up to 7 megabytes, with most customers qualifying for 3 to 5 megabyte connections. However many people would be happy with even a basic 1.5 megabyte connection, depending on your internet usage.