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Why You Shouldn’t Write Off DSL Internet Just Yet

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A tall phone tower in this image from Shutterstock

DSL’s legacy has more than meets the eye. (Image: Shutterstock)

After all the changes in the past few years, you may have found yourself at a crossroads: debating whether you should take the leap from a crowded city to a small town with a slower pace. You may even feel drawn to live out your “Yellowstone” fantasy by buying land in a rural area or expanding your gardening from a habit on your porch to a full-fledged farm. No matter your dreams, the fact of the matter is that without quality internet, only so many places make sense for such a transition.

Even with fresh waves of broadband investment and construction around the country since the COVID-19 pandemic, only one type of internet connection is consistently available to even the most far-flung homes across the country: DSL. Here’s why what could be considered vintage technology may be worth a second look.

What Is DSL?

DSL is short for digital subscriber line. The hallmark technology behind this type of internet connection is a wired phone line. People often associate DSL with dial-up internet and the days when you had to hang up the telephone in order to use the internet. That period is long gone, but since a DSL connection is fundamentally devoted to individual households via their phone line, you won’t encounter slowdowns because of your neighbors’ internet usage like with many cable options.

DSL, however, can reach only a certain threshold of speed. Depending on what activities you like to do online, it simply may not be enough speed for you.

General Availability

Any household that can have a wired phone connection can effectively have a DSL internet connection, which is big news when your neighbors are trees and coyotes.

DSL may not be as fast as fiber or cable, but it’s the most accessible internet connection in rural America because of its phone-based infrastructure. As internet service providers (ISPs) eye their existing DSL footprints for potential fiber upgrades, what may seem like an island market with only DSL could see vast improvements in the years to come.

DSL Costs

DSL typically hovers between $20 and $55 per month, which is notable because other, faster types of internet connections, such as fiber and cable, fluctuate immensely in price depending on location. Fiber internet, for instance, can cost as little as $30 per month and as much as $299 per month, depending on where you live and the ISP that owns the network.

DSL, along with fixed wireless, is one of the most consistent types of internet, and it hovers in the same general price range regardless of location.

Why Pick DSL Over Other Types of Broadband?

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A DSL connection isn’t all that bad, depending on your needs. (Image: Shutterstock)

There are so many different types of internet and ISPs. More competition in the marketplace means modernized DSL packages may meet your needs if you give them a try. Here are some considerations to keep in mind before you choose DSL over fiber, cable, or satellite alternatives:

Predictable Usage

DSL is not designed to be faster than 300 Mbps, but many providers offer plans with speeds up to 100 Mbps. Your internet would not be fast enough for gaming, but it would offer plenty of speed to stream movies, conduct video calls, or check your email. If you’re doing “light” online activities like those, DSL is a solid choice.

Cost Efficacy

The average monthly cost of internet service in America ranges between $40 and $90. DSL’s most expensive packages slide into home plate at around $55 per month, which places it in the bottom half of the range. If you know you’re not using the internet intensively and you want to save some money on your monthly utilities, that’s another one-up for DSL.


Perhaps the most significant upside to a DSL connection is that it’s the most reliable internet option in rural America. Some of the most abundant DSL connections across the country are in the Four Corners states of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.

Even in places where there is significant distance between households or communities, DSL’s historic infrastructure means you can have access to the internet if you can have a phone line. DSL ensures that if you want to swap one lifestyle for another, you truly have the option to do so.

How Do I Choose My Internet Plan in a Rural Area?

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There are a few considerations to keep in mind before you commit to a DSL internet plan. (Image: Shutterstock)

After availability, true usage, projected speeds, and cost, the final step to knowledgeably signing up for a DSL internet plan is knowing what experience your neighbors have had with it.

Read reviews on the predominant DSL providers in your area and ask your neighbors — even if they’re a bit far-flung — what their experience has been like with their ISP. People living in rural areas tend to be vocal if they’ve had problems with their ISP in the past, so asking a few questions can save you a heap of headaches in the future.

Also keep in mind that your ISP may have plans to upgrade its historic DSL network in your area in the near future. Before signing up for a plan, spend a bit of time looking into the ISP to see if it has any recent news on construction in your area.

Sometimes you don’t need the fastest internet connection, the top technology, or the most expensive monthly plan. You just need something that gets the job done and keeps you connected online. DSL — even with so many modern developments — is here to stay.