DSL FAQs
Consumer Brochures

WHAT IS DSL? DSL refers to Digital Subscriber Line. DSL is a technology for bringing high-speed and high-bandwidth information to homes and small businesses over ordinary copper telephone lines already installed in hundreds of millions of homes and businesses worldwide. With DSL, consumers and businesses take advantage of having a dedicated, always-on connection to the Internet.

HOW DOES DSL WORK? Traditional phone service connects your home or business to a telephone company office over copper wires that are wrapped around each other. The wires are called twisted pair. The digital modem, which may be purchased or rented, - - located at your location - - accesses the local telephone companies' central office where a DSL Access Multiplexer, which translates your DSL signal, has been installed. The signal is then transmitted from the copper telephone line onto a network backbone, and directed to the Internet Service Provider's (ISP) location, where the ISP verifies the access to the network and delivers users to the Internet through the ISP's relationship with a backbone network provider.

IS MY LOCAL COMPANY REQUIRED TO PROVIDE ME WITH DSL SERVICE? There are no requirements that the local phone company make available DSL service. While it would be advantageous for the local company to be able to offer DSL service throughout its service territory, there are technical limitations that can make it difficult to offer the service to all customers.

WHAT ARE THE TECHNICAL LIMITATIONS? If the local Telephone Company is unable to offer you DSL service it is probably because your property is too far away from the nearest Central Office. The maximum distance is 15,000 wire-feet (not actual distance) for DSL to work properly. Additionally some properties cannot be served if they are equipped with load coals. Load coils are placed on lines that are longer than 18,000 feet (the distance between the customer and the central office). The purpose of the load coils is to improve the quality and transmission of the voice grade service. However, these same coils are an impediment to DSL service and can be removed if necessary.

WHY DOES THE PROXIMITY TO THE CENTRAL OFFICE MAKE A DIFFERENCE? The distance between the user's premises and the phone company's central office is a primary factor deciding who can get this service and the speed of the service. If a copper loop is longer than 18,000 wire-feet, it needs load coils. However, load coils make DSL unworkable. A copper loop less than 18,000 wire-feet can have the load coils removed without harming voice service.

HOW CAN I GET DSL SERVICE? You should contact Verizon or one of the following competitors to find out if DSL service is available in your area.

Advanced TelCom Group, Inc.
d/b/a ATG or Advanced
TelCom Group

20300 Century Boulevard - Eastern Headquarters
Germantown, MD 20874
1-877-728-5973
www.callatg.com
Allegiance Telecom of Md, Inc.
1950 N. Stemmons Freeway
Suite 3026
Dallas, TX 75075
1-800-553-1989
DIECA Communications, Inc.
d/b/a COVAD

1-800-GO COVAD
www.covad.com
DSLNet Communications
5451 Long Wharf Drive
5th Floor
New Haven, CT 06511
1-877-375-6331 or 1-800-455-5546
www.dsl.net
Rhythms Link, Inc.
9100 E. Mineral Circle
Englewood, CO 80112
1-800-rhythms
www.rhythms.com

 

EXPLAIN THE MARYLAND PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION'S AUTHORITY OVER DSL? The Maryland PSC's authority is somewhat limited. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has determined that DSL is an interstate service and is governed by Federal requirements. See FCC Order #98-292, GTE Telephone Operating Cos., adopted 10-30-98.

At present, the Maryland PSC's authority over DSL is limited to arbitrating disputes between Verizon, the incumbent local exchange carrier, and competing DSL service providers. The Maryland PSC currently has an ongoing arbitration underway to resolve several DSL issues between Verizon and third party DSL providers. This matter has been docketed as PSC Case No. 8842 - Rhythms Links, Inc. and Covad Communications Company vs. Verizon Maryland, Inc.

DSL can also be used for voice communication, so the Maryland PSC would investigate a complaint if it comes from a customer who currently has DSL service and the complaint concerns unreliable local voice telephone service over the DSL line. If it involves any other issue (i.e. missed installation appointments, unavailability of service in their area, etc.), the customer should contact the FCC at 1-888-225-5322 or visit the website at www.fcc.gov/.