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What is ADSL?

DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Loop. It is a name that encompasses a group of technologies, the most common being ADSL, or Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line.

DSL technologies make use of your existing telephone line. It splits the signal into two, one for voice communications and the other for the high speed data connection. The data line uses a range of frequencies not used in normal voice communications.

DSL is capable of much higher speeds than can be achieved on a standard Phone line and modem. Speeds of up to 8mbit/s are achievable. In Australia, the speeds are determined by Telstra equipment in the exchanges (known as DSLAM - Digital Subscriber Line Access Modulator). Telstra offer speeds of 256/64, 512/128kbit or 1.5mbit/512kbit. The bottom line of this means that a 256k DSL line is approximately 5 times faster than a standard 56k modem connecting at it's maximum speed.

Do I need a second phone line?

No! DSL splits your existing phone line into 2 channels, 1 for voice and one for the data. The line can use both these channel simultaneously. This means that you can be connected to the internet and talk on the phone at the same time, without disconnecting or interfering with your connection in any way. You will be required to install a Line Filter for each telephone that is on the same phone line as the modem.

Why is there a contract for DSL?

A contract is exchanged as our ADSL suppliers ask for a minimum service period. (6 months). It is also a requirement as we are offering a pay service to you as the customer that involves terms and conditions of use.

Is it Easy to Setup?

DSL is not difficult to setup. It can be easier than setting up a normal dial-up connection, depending on the type of connection you choose.

You will not be able to use your existing Dial-Up modem with ADSL, a special DSL modem is required. The costs for DSL modems can vary a lot between models and features. As a basic rule there are 3 types of DSL Modems. Firstly, there are USB or Internal ADSL Modems. These connect directly to your computer via a USB cable or internal through a PCI slot. This is a common way of connecting, but often has problems with stability and speed compared to the other devices. USB/Internal Modems generally rely on the computer to which they are connected to provide the Username/Password. Windows XP and MacOSX can support this by default, earlier Operating Systems require another program (which will be supplied by Shoalnet).

Standalone PC's are sometimes a little more tricky to setup, but will usually be simply a case of installing the modem (the same as a modem can be installed for normal Dial-Up), and then setting up what is known as a PPPoE (Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet - PPP is the same standard used for Dial-Up modems) connection, similar to standard Dial-Up Internet. Windows XP and MacOSX have this software built-in, earlier versions of Windows require a 3rd party program (which will be supplied when you sign-up).

The second type of connection that is commonly used is an Ethernet Modem. These plug into a Switch, or directly to your computer through a cross-over cable. Ethernet modems can be run in Bridged Mode, which means that they run in the same way as a USB or Internal modem, and use your computer to provide the username/password. Alternatively, they can connect directly themselves, and provide an Ethernet connection to your PC and out to the Internet. Some modems can run in either mode, some are only able to connect through your computer.

The third, and probably easiest to setup, type of connection is to use a Modem/Router device. These are generally the most stable form of connection and the easiest form of sharing your connection among several computers. Router devices do not need a computer connected to them at all to be connected to the Internet – They plug into your phone line, and then into a Switch or Hub to share the connection amongst 1 or more computers. Due to the fact that they do not rely on a computer to provide the username/password, they are usually very easy to setup. A router purchased from Shoalnet will be pre-configured and ready to “plug in and go”

What kind of setup costs can I expect?

At this stage, DSL prices are quite expensive. A One-Off account setup fee of $125 applies to all DSL accounts. An Internal or Standard Ethernet DSL modem will retail for $150 - $250. A Modem/Router can cost from $200 up to several thousand for top-end models. Shoalnet will be selling D-Link DSL 500 Routers and D-Link DSL 100 PCI Modems. Please see here for modem pricing. Equipment purchased through Shoalnet will be installed free of charge. In addition, DSL accounts will be pre-paid.

So, as a breakdown, here is what you can roughly expect when setting up a DSL account

Setup Fee $125
Modem $100 - $400 (Depending on device)
First Months Access Dependent upon plan - $38 up to $165
Misc Costs (cables, network card if req.) $60

Can I share my connection among other computers at home?

Yes! Due to the higher speeds of DSL, sharing the connection among several computers allows each computer to still have very good speeds on the Internet - although the more computers sharing a connection, the slower it will be. To share a connection, you will need to have a working Network of computers (usually through a Switch/Hub and blue cable (Ethernet/Cat5 Cable). The easiest way to share a connection among several computers is to use a Modem/Router. Most routers provide a function called NAT (Network Address Translation). NAT effectively makes several computers "hide" behind a single Internet Address (known as an IP address). This is also highly beneficial for security, as it means that as far as someone on the outside it concerned, there is only 1 computer at that address.
While routers are one of the easiest ways to share a connection, it can also be done using a standard Windows computer and Internet Connection Sharing (available under Windows 98SE and Higher). This will require that the computer sharing has 2 network cards, 1 for the Internet connection, 1 more to share the connection. This can be done using Windows, or by using a Linux distributions. There are several Linux distributions that have been designed specifically for this purpose, such as Clark Connect, Smoothwall and IPCop. These need a complete computer to run on, but will share your connection and provide Firewall facilities as well.
Shoalnet technical support staff will be happy to help recommend a solution for you.

Can I use the Phone while using DSL?

Yes! Because DSL splits the line into 2 completely separate channels, you can be connected and talk on the phone at the same time. You will need a Line Filter on each phone on the line, or a central line splitter. Some cordless phones have been known to cause problems with poor quality filters, but the majority of phones will be fine.

Do I Need to Dial-Up?

Yes and No. You will need to tell your modem to "dial", but it is not actually dialing a phone number. It is simply opening the data channel on the phone line and then sending the required PPP information such as your username and password. You will not receive phone call charges for connecting to the Internet. Your normal phone calls will still be billed in the same manner by your Telephone provider.

Do I need to worry about Connection Time?

No. DSL is what is known as an "Always-On" connection. This means that it is designed to always be connected. As such, all DSL plans are not limited by time - You can be connected 24/7 - As long as your computer or modem don't crash!

How can I check if I can get ADSL?

Due to the way DSL technology works, there are many limitations that can affect your ability to get DSL. Firstly, your Telephone exchange must be enabled for DSL. The majority of large towns now have DSL enabled exchanges, but many small towns are not. The exchanges must be enabled by Telstra - Shoalnet does not have the ability to enable exchanges.
Also, the distance that you are from the exchange can have a major impact on DSL. If you are more than 3.5km from the phone exchange (keep in mind that this is wiring length - the cable between you and the exchange is not likely to take the most direct path), you will probably not be able to get DSL. Telstra are currently investigating how to extend this coverage, but for the moment - Approximately 5km is the limit.
You can check to see if you exchange is enabled by entering your phone number in the following form

For the most accurate search, please enter your full phone number
i.e. 02 4422 5014  

This form will take you outside the Shoalnet page, to get back here, use the Back button in your browser.

Please note that this search will only tell you if your exchange is enabled. This is NOT a guarantee that you will be able to get DSL. You will need to make an application, at which point Telstra will test your physical phone line for DSL suitability.

Can I continue using my Shoalnet Email Address(es)?

Yes. It does not matter how you are connected to the Internet when you check your mail, as long as you have the correct details in your email program. You will receive a new Login name - but this is purely for logging on to your DSL, not for checking email.

Can I use my Shoalnet DSL Account at a Friends place who does not have DSL?

No. DSL is tied to a physical phone line. You can only use DSL on the phone number that you applied on. This also means that if you change address, you will need to setup a new account. You can continue using the same username/password if you move, but you will need to pay the account setup fee again.

Can I use my Shoalnet DSL Account at a Friends place who does have DSL?

This will depend on the ISP that your friend is with, and the speed of their connection. If they are on Shoalnet, and their line speed is the same as yours, you will have no problems. If they are with another ISP, you may or may not be able to use it - it will depend on how their ISP does the connections.

What is a line filter and why do I need one?

A line filter is a device that restricts telephones from using the Data Channel of your phone line. If you do not have a Line Filter installed in front of each phone, you will most likely suffer poor speeds and dropouts whenever there is activity on the line (i.e. Someone rings, or you ring someone).
A line filter is ESSENTIAL to a good DSL experience.

What are the minimum requirements for DSL?

Any computer that is capable of running the Internet now should be fine for DSL. If you are using an Ethernet modem or a Router, you will need a Network Card in your computer. If you do not have a network card, they can be purchased from most computer stores.

Can I use my Macintosh computer with DSL?

Yes! MacOS 9 and higher should have no problems connecting. MacOSX contains a built in PPPoE client, MacOS9 users will need to download a 3rd party dialer, such as Enternet.

Why can't I get ADSL?

DSL is a very complicated technology, and the POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) is also very complicated. There are many factors that may contribute to your ability to get DSL. Firstly, your exchange must be enabled for DSL. You must be within 5km of the telephone exchange - and that's 3.5km of telephone wire, not "as the crow flies". Telstra will test lines to see if they are capable of 1.5mbit connections, even if you are only requesting a 256k service - if it fails the 1.5mbit test, you will probably not get DSL (although Telstra have been improving in this area).
Another factor that may affect your ability to get DSL is if your phone line is running through a RIM. A RIM is a system that has been used in a lot of new housing estates, or where demand has exceeded capacity in existing areas. A RIM device allows Telstra to run a single Fibre Optic from the exchange to the RIM, and then use copper to the house. ADSL requires that your line is completely copper. Some of the newer RIM's will enable 10% of the people on the RIM to get DSL.

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