Digital subscriber line (DSL, originally digital subscriber loop) is a family of technologies that provide internet access by transmitting digital data over the wires of a local telephone network. In telecommunications marketing, the term DSL is widely understood to mean Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), the most commonly installed DSL technology. DSL service is delivered simultaneously with wired telephone service on the same telephone line. This is possible because DSL uses higher frequency bands for data separated by filtering. On the customer premises, a DSL filter on each outlet removes the high frequency interference, to enable simultaneous use of the telephone and data.
When the DSL modem powers up it goes through a sync procedure. The actual process varies from modem to modem but generally involves the following steps:
The DSL transceiver performs a self-test.
The DSL transceiver checks the connection between the DSL transceiver and the computer. For residential variations of DSL, this is usually the Ethernet (RJ-45) port or a USB port; in rare models, a FireWire port is used. Older DSL modems sported a native ATM interface (usually, a 25 Mbit/s serial interface). Also, some variations of DSL (such as SDSL) use synchronous serial connections.
The DSL transceiver then attempts to synchronize with the DSLAM. Data can only come into the computer when the DSLAM and the modem are synchronized. The synchronization process is relatively quick (in the range of seconds) but is very complex, involving extensive tests that allow both sides of the connection to optimize the performance according to the characteristics of the line in use. External, or stand-alone modem units have an indicator labeled “CD”, “DSL“, or “LINK”, which can be used to tell if the modem is synchronized. During synchronization the light flashes; when synchronized, the light stays lit, usually with a green color.
Modern DSL gateways have more functionality and usually go through an initialization procedure very similar to a PC boot up. The system image is loaded from the flash memory; the system boots, synchronizes the DSL connection and establishes the IP connection between the local network and the service provider, using protocols such as DHCP or PPPoE. The system image can usually be updated to correct bugs, or to add new functionality.