Pros and cons

  • Widely available in the UK

  • Low cost

  • Quick download speeds

  • Speeds vary, based on location

  • Needs a working phone line

  • Slower upload speeds

What is ADSL?

It stands for assymetrical digital subscriber line, which allows broadband to be delivered faster over a copper phone line.

The line is then split in two with a microfilter: one for your phone, and one for your broadband. This means the line is never tied up, so you can use the internet and make calls at the same time.

Is it right for you?

ADSL is good if you are looking for affordable broadband, or if you do not have access to high speed fibre.

Think about what you need from your broadband service and use our comparison to check:

  • Cost: Look at the total monthly price, including line rental, along with any one off costs like setup charges.

  • Contract length: You could save money by taking out a contract of 12 months or more, but this makes it hard to switch supplier.

  • Speed: This is measured in megabits (Mb) and affects how quickly you can access things online. Think about how you will use your broadband and check the Ofcom website to see what speeds are available where you live.

  • Download limit: This is measured in gigabytes (GB) and affects how much you can use the internet each month. Exceeding your limit could mean your speed gets restricted, so consider a truly unlimited package if you are a heavy internet user.

What speed can you get?

ADSL broadband can offer average speeds of 16 Mbps, but this varies depending on your chosen provider and where you live.

This is usually enough for streaming HD film and TV, but if you have several devices connected to your broadband at once the quality of your connection may suffer.

You will be able to download files quicker than you can upload them with ADSL broadband, so consider how regularly you upload files to the internet and whether you need a faster connection.

Do you need a phone line?

ADSL broadband is supplied over the BT phone network, so you need a working phone line at your home to get service.

A broadband only deal could save you money if you do not need inclusive calls with your package. However, you will still have to pay line rental to receive your broadband.

ADSL broadband FAQs


What does ADSL stand for?


It stands for asymmetric digital subscriber line, which means that you can download files faster than you can upload them.


Can I get ADSL broadband where I live?


It is widely available so if you have an active phone line, you should have access. Use our postcode checker if ADSL is available where you live.


What equipment do I need to set up ADSL broadband?


You need an active phone line and a wireless router. Your provider will supply you with a router and the cost will be added to the price of your package.


How fast is ADSL broadband?


Speeds can reach and average of 16 Mbps. This will depend on average speeds where you live so check the Ofcom website for more detail.


Do I have to pay line rental if I only want broadband?


Yes, because ADSL broadband is supplied over the BT phone network. Your line rental will cover the cost of using a phone line to access the internet.