What is naked DSL?
If you've ever had to shop for a new broadband Internet plan, you've probably come across the term "naked DSL". Internet providers often tout it as the easiest and cheapest way to get online – but what exactly is naked DSL? While the name might sound a little risqué, the concept is fairly straightforward. To best understand it, let's first look at how traditional broadband connections work.
How standard ADSL connections work
ADSL broadband, whether it be ADSL, ADSL2 or ADSL2+, operates over the copper-line phone network. This is why you plug your ADSL modem into the same wall socket as your home phone. When you sign up for a standard ADSL service, your Internet provider will reconfigure your phone line to support Internet traffic too, allowing you to both browse the web and make phone calls without having to lay down any new wires.
The catch here is that not only do you need a phone line installed at your house, you have to pay rental on that phone line to both your telephone provider and your Internet provider. Even if you don't plan on making a single phone call, you're effectively paying for two separate services just to get online.
How naked DSL works
Naked DSL offers a solution to this problem. Rather than charging you for a phone service you're not going to use, a naked DSL service strips out the telephony component and dedicates your copper phone line to Internet traffic. While this won't result in any increases in Internet speed since ADSL and phone data operate at different frequencies, it will save you money by not having to pay twice for a single copper line.
In return, though, you won't be able to make or receive regular phone calls anymore. Even if you have a handset hooked up, picking up the receiver won't produce a dial tone. To make up for this, many naked DSL plans support voice over IP (VoIP) phone services. A VoIP service functions much the same as a regular phone service, except all your calls are routed over the Internet instead of the fixed-line phone network. You can still use a standard phone handset to make and receive calls and you'll often pay lower call rates than on a traditional phone service.
One of the challenges with VoIP is that it requires both constant power and a stable Internet connection to work. If your power goes out or your Internet connection drops, you won't be able to make or receive calls until service is restored. You can mitigate the power issue by installing a backup battery for your modem, but Internet problems are often out of your control.
- Volatile phone service. Unless you buy a backup battery for your modem, power outages will prevent you from using your VoIP phone service.
- Not always cheaper. Standard ADSL plans can sometimes be found for the same price.
- Still requires an active phone line. If your house isn't connected to the copper network, you'll need to pay extra to get a new line installed.
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Picture: Lindsey Turner/Flickr