Talk:DSL modem

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Debate about use of "ATU-R", "ADSL Transeiver Unit" Vs. "DSL Modem", "DSL Router"[edit]

From http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/vdsl.htm: 'Most residential customers call their DSL transceiver a DSL modem. The engineers at the telephone company or ISP call it an ATU-R, which stands for ADSL Transceiver Unit - Remote.' I'll leave it up to wiser heads than me to figure out what to make of this. 2006-05-19 03:30 UTC

The common usage "DSL Modem" is erroneous, oxymoronic, and frankly quite silly to anyone who actually knows what a modem is. The word modem is a contraction for MOdulator/DEModulator. Modulation is the process of converting a digital signal onto an analog carrier, and demodulation is the process of converting a modulated signal back to its original digital form. In an all-digital technology like ADSL, there are no analog signals and therefore there is nothing to modulate or demodulate. However, because ADSL Transceivers perform the same approximate function as an analog modem (serving as the intermediary between local computer equipment and the telephone network), the public at large seems insistent on incorrectly applying the word "modem" to this piece of equipment that is anything but a modem. 2006-09-03 04:20 UTC

Technically correct, but I guess you could say that the word "modem" originated from the name "modulator/demodulator", but now it is a generic word for a consumer device used to connect a computer to a telecommunications network. Maybe "ADSL router" would be a better name for the article, but not all ADSL modems have router functionality. -- Chuq 12:12, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
The usage "DSL Modem" is not erroneous. A DSL modem does indeed perform modulation and demodulation. It uses either Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) or Phase Shift Keying (PSK) modulation. Multiple modulated subcarriers are then combined into an OFDM stream. The distinction between this type of modem and a traditional one is that the traditional one modulates audio frequency signals whereas the DSL modem is upconverted to an RF band. But they both perform modulation and demodulation. The digital signals are not sent as baseband digital signals.
Our unsigned colleague is correct. The colloquial usage "DSL Modem" should be applied, because it is both widespread and technically correct. It modulates; it demodulates; it does all that a modem should do. It does not dial a phone number, and it does not limit its analog signal to one that can be carried by a loaded telephone cable or a ds0 channel. Those characteristics are commonplace, but they have never been part of the definition. As seen in the Modem article, a "modem" does not have to be voiceband limited. Voiceband, dial-up modems were merely the most common late 20th Century kind; they are not the technical or colloquial definition of "modem." Thus the name of the article should be restored to "DSL Modem."
Jim.henderson 15:02, 29 October 2006 (UTC)
I agree - DSL modem is in common usage, and I understand the technical reasons to want to differentiate it from a Router, but I am another vote for DSL modem.

Do you guys think a mention that "An ADSL Modem is often used to describe a USB or PCI (internal) DSL device, and the more advanced ADSL devices are often referred to as ADSL Routers as they often allow more advanced routing functionality."

Also with respect to this page, it is not a bad call to use howstuffworks.com as a reference? But the one line from that site stating "The engineers at the telephone company or ISP call it an ATU-R" These days, I do not know of any Telco engineers that would refer to a DSL modem or Router as an ATU-R. Just my 2cents.. --Adslgeek (talk) 10:13, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

I will add the USB / PCI etc statement above, and removed the ATU-R / technical jargon cause it really would be a rare case where this is commonly used. If anyone can name any ISP / Telco where this is the common vernacular I am happy to debate here, but being daily in forums around the world, I have never once heard the term used in anything but the most technical of DSL books.

And when comparing search volume, ATU-R and DSL Transeiver simply do not exist. http://www..com/trends/?q=dsl+modem,+dsl+router,+atu-r,+dsl+transeiver

I actually agree that the nomenclature is stupid, but it is such mainstream usage, that we have to let this article reflect common usage / not scare away those that are not as technical.

Jaybest (talk) 21:26, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

I came here to answer the question to myself "is a DSL modem a modem?" since it is a "digital" service over the analog telephone system. It sounds like, yes, a DSL modem is still a device that modulates and demodulates a digital signal over an analog spectrum. The distinction between whether your "DSL modem" connects via USB, ethernet, wireless, or provides NAT, sounds like a spurious distinction to me. I interpret and interchange "DSL modem" and "DSL router" as "the network device that bridges your local computing resources to network service provider." --User:Dannyman 2012-02-18

Broadband modem never in add-in card format?[edit]

Its curious that broadband modems are never add-in cards - dial-up cards are ubiquitous. I assume they exist but I cannot find even one. Is there a technical reason for this or is it just that the market prefers external boxes?--ChrisJMoor 19:30, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

I think some internal ones were sold around the turn of the century but were discontinued for reasons of versatility and diversity. First, not every DSL modem works with every line; to be sure you have to use the one that your telco provides for your line. Second, not every DSL line has only one computer. I think the companies should have handled this better, allowing multiple modems to share a phone line and all compatible so the modem could be an internal part of the computer and not require the wall wart and Ethernet cable that add to the opportunities for consumers to install wrong. Now it's probably too late to use these advantages against the CATV companies. Jim.henderson 04:50, 6 April 2007 (UTC)
Also all the testing I have done tends to suggest that internal DSL modems suffer terribly from the speeds of the computer. Both PCI and USB are poor cousins compared to Eth based connections. (I have links to detailed analysis of why on my site, but I don't think that is an unbiased reference now is it!). --Adslgeek (talk) 10:18, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

Overall, there are advantages to the 'one external box' package over the add-in card, for the reasons you state above. However, I cannot understand why there is a complete lack of broadband cards these days and I cannot find any information addressing this. If you or anyone else can get this info, add it to the article!

By the way, you mention CATV companies (cable TV I assume). I don't quite understand your point there.--ChrisJMoor 00:00, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Drat, what happened to my text? Must have hit the wrong key with the arm that's impaired by a broken collarbone. Anyway, the problem is diversity and lack of versatility in ways to provide high speed Internet. CAble TV Internet services are not compatible to DSL hardware and vice versa, and not always compatible to each other's hardware. DSL hardware is also not always compible. These several ways to bring Internet home mean, if the computer came with built in DSL hardware, it wouldn't work in some places, so the consumer would bring the computer back to the store whining that it's broken. Had the phone companies understood the future, they could have made DSL cards compatible to each other and more versatile, for example able to connect multiple computers to the same DSL line. Then the same modem card in each computer could provide both voiceband and wideband service behind the same RJ-11 socket. That would make Ethernet unnecessary at home, with no external equipment to buy or plug in. Such simplicity and versatility couldn't be matched by a CATV connection that requires a converter box anyway. Ah well, it's all in the realm of "if" and far too late. Jim.henderson 00:29, 16 April 2007 (UTC)


  • Analog modem usually built-in?

I doubt that "voiceband modems are usually built inside the computer." While internal voiceband modems are more widespread than internal DSL modems, in my experience the (vast) majority of analog modems are external devices. Be it as it may, this is certainly not a distinguishing technical feature, but merely a marketing decision. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Grissom (talkcontribs) 12:20, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Eh? In my BBS operator days I used external modems, but my callers almost all used internal ones. Look at the computer shelf of any consumer electronics shop in the past decade, and almost all have an internal voiceband modem. Voiceband modems sold separately are still sometimes external ones, but most are offered as computer parts inside the case, same as the Ethernet and video ports, rather than as accessories as monitors and mice are. Yes, it's a marketing decision and not completely uniform, but it is usual. Jim.henderson (talk) 03:48, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

I am requesting this page be moved back to "DSL modem." This is by far the common name for this device. The article uses the term "DSL modem" except for the introduction. The discussion above does not seem to support the move that was made, yet it happened anyway. it should be moved back.--agr 22:39, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes. "DSL modem" is (1) term by which most users call it, (2) more precise than "transceiver", and (3) technically correct. Jim.henderson 16:26, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
No, it isn't more correct, Modems are for analog to digital (and vice versa) connections, and CSU/DSU's or transceivers are for digital to digital. Mobus 00:52, 14 July 2007 (UTC)
In what sense is the phone line signal of some other gadget "analog", and the phone line signal of the present gadget not "analog"? Jim.henderson 00:57, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

This article has been renamed from ADSL transceiver to DSL modem as the result of a move request. --Stemonitis 08:41, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Naming of modem on diagram?[edit]

Can someone find out what each of the on the image relate to? This could really be of assistance to the article.

Jaybest (talk) 21:41, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Clarity in the "Comparison to voice-band modems" section, bullet 4[edit]

I have added to "confs" to allow the ignorant (read 'me'!) to know what is being said. But the sentence still reads "The confs (configuration files) generally to open a browser, type the DSL modem's LAN IP address in the browser's address bar, and then press 'Enter'." I don't know how the sentence should read, but it is not a true sentence as it stands, and is hard to understand. Would the knowledgeable please correct it? Thx. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gloucks (talkcontribs) 19:14, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

Modem vs router[edit]

I'd like to see the distinction between modem and router be made more clear. It was confusing to me to come to this page and then most of it is talking about a router. My network setup, as done by BT, has *two* boxes - one is a modem and the other is a router. It is clear (to me) that they serve different purposes. Having said that, it is pretty clear to me that it is difficult to find a modem on the consumer market that isn't integrated with a router. However, the 'better' routers don't ever seem to have a modem built in, so quite how we're supposed to use them with DSL connections I'm not sure...but that's sort of beside the point, which is, this article should be just about the modem, and perhaps a short mention that they're usually integrated with routers, and link to a page on routers.

Davidmaxwaterman (talk) 14:29, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

We already have a page on routers. Explaining DSL again on that page would make it very long. It makes sense to me to keep all the DSL stuff on one page. As you say, the combination DSL modem/router is the more common type of box. Why not add a section here describing a standalone DSL modem? --ChetvornoTALK 15:12, 11 December 2015 (UTC)
  • why not rename the article? It's called "DSL modem" when the vast majority of readers will actually be using ADSL routers (or as the ADSL WP article calls them, "gateways", which they aren't either. Andy Dingley (talk) 15:37, 11 December 2015 (UTC)
I don't think "ADSL" should be introduced into the name, as I think "DSL" is the WP:COMMONNAME used for the device, but I wouldn't object to changing the name to DSL router if that name is most widely used. But is it? It seems to me that most sources call it a "DSL modem and router" or "DSL modem/router" The device is actually a DSL modem combined with a router, so the hybrid term "DSL router" is a little misleading for introductory readers. We already have an article for routers, this article focuses on the DSL modem part, and as Davidmaxwaterman says there are standalone DSL modems, so it seems to make most sense to me to keep this article "DSL modem", it's primary topic, and explain in the intro that most (but not all) DSL modems are combined with routers. --ChetvornoTALK 18:59, 11 December 2015 (UTC)
Any domestic DSL kit is extremely rare, it's ADSL instead. Nor are any of them gateways (for some years). Andy Dingley (talk) 20:19, 11 December 2015 (UTC)