Will DSL Work During a Power Outage?

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Although power outages aren’t particularly common, they do occur from time to time. In an age where many of us rely on Internet services all of the time, will DSL continue to work even during a power outage?

DSL services will not continue to work during a power outage. The equipment needed for DSL requires a power source; it cannot use the existing DC current on a circuit. The power supplied by the phone line itself is also insufficient, so a UPS will be required to supply the power needed.

In this article, we’ll look at what DSL is and how it works, whether you lose access to the Internet during a power outage and some ways in which you can stay connected even when the power does go out.

What Is DSL and How Does It Work?

DSL, which stands for Digital Subscriber Line, is a type of connection that ultimately allows you access to the Internet.

It makes use of the existing telephone network to provide a high-speed connection but uses different frequencies to those used by the telephone so you can continue to access the Internet even when the telephone is being used.

DSL is a popular choice of connection for many people for several reasons.

For starters, it is widely accessible to everyone that already has telephone wires running into their homes, even if they aren’t making use of landline telephones anymore.

Because of this, DSL is available in even the most rural of areas as they will still usually have access to a telephone service.

It also costs less than the other types of Internet connections, like satellite or broadband, but with that comes slower speeds than what these connections can offer.

Another benefit of using DSL is that you have your own dedicated circuit, just as you would with your telephone service.

Even when several neighboring houses around you are connected at the same time, the demand on the DSL lines doesn’t increase as you are isolated from everyone else.

If you were to use cable Internet instead, you and your neighbors who also use cable will actually end up sharing a cable, so you could find your connection to the Internet does slow down during those peak times when everyone else is also browsing online.

There are actually two different types of DSL which work slightly differently to each other.

Symmetrical DSL offers the same amount of bandwidth for both download and upload speeds, whereas Asymmetrical doesn’t.

Asymmetrical DSL is the most popular choice of DSL connection as it offers more bandwidth for downloading than it does uploading. It’s favored as most people will end up downloading considerably more than they upload, so it is better suited for their needs.

Will DSL Continue to Work During a Power Outage?

Unfortunately, no, DSL will not continue to work during a power outage.

The equipment that is needed for a DSL connection relies on an outside power source to function. 

Even though the phone line itself may still receive power and can continue to be used during an outage, the modem itself will not and you will lose access to the Internet.

Just a few months ago, I experienced a brief power outage and found that I lost complete access to the Internet, and I receive my connectivity through DSL.

How to Stay Connected During a Power Outage

Although you can’t stop a power outage from happening directly, there is a way in which you can continue to provide the power that your modem and router need to function as well as other ways in which you can access the Internet.

1. Use a UPS

If it is likely that the power outage will only last for a short amount of time, having all of your most important devices connected to a UPS, including the modem and router, could be worthwhile.

UPS stands for uninterruptible power supply and it is essentially a battery-based backup that is used when the mains power is lost. The UPS will charge whilst the mains power is on and working as normal, and then spring into action as oone as the mains power is lost.

This results in zero downtime and all of the devices remaining powered on and connected.

The issue with a UPS is that they don’t tend to last very long. 

If you require a longer running time, you will need to invest in a more expensive UPS, but even this may not be long enough to last throughout a power outage, especially if the problem affecting the power is a substantial one.

Even the top end UPS devices will only last for around an hour, so in my opinion, they aren’t really worth it for us at home.

Certainly in my experience, power outages are rare, but when they do occur, they last for longer than an hour, so a UPS wouldn’t really be of any benefit other than that they may buy you some time to save whatever you are working on and cleanly power down your devices.

Personally, I’m not too worried if I lose access to the Internet for a short while, providing it is not a regular occurrence. If I were to want to stay connected to the Internet at all times, I would use one of the following two options instead of getting a UPS.

2. Use a Personal Hotspot

Even though your normal Internet services may be unavailable, you will still likely have access to the Internet through the cellular network on your smartphone.

Your smartphone can be used to tether a device and give it access to the Internet. This process involves your smartphone becoming what is known as a hotspot.

The personal hotspot feature may not be turned on by default, so you will need to go into the settings menu where you should see it and be able to enable it.

Once enabled, you will be presented with a connection name and a password, both of which you can change to whatever you would prefer.

It’s then just a case of connecting your device to the new network that should appear, just as if you were connecting to your home Wi-Fi.

One thing to keep in mind is that whilst tethered, you will be using your cellular data and not your Wi-Fi, so you will probably want to limit what you are doing unless you are on an unlimited data plan.

3. Use a Cellular Device

This method works in exactly the same way as tethering to your smartphone, but you connect to a dedicated device instead. You still end up with a cellular connection just like with your smartphone.

There are plans that you pay for once that give you a certain amount of data that you can use whenever you need, or you can choose a plan where you are billed monthly instead.

Unless you think you will be using a lot of data, I would probably just stick with using your smartphone if you need to tether. 

It’s always in your pocket and means you don’t have to go out and buy an additional device, just on the off chance that a power outage does occur.

Just remember that you will be limited by the amount of data on your plan, and going over this allowance can be costly.

Final Thoughts

DSL will, unfortunately, not continue to work during a power outage unless you have some way of being able to maintain the delivery of power to the modem and the router.

Both of these devices which help provide all of the devices on your home network with a connection to the Internet, require a power source and cannot use the existing DC power on a circuit.

A UPS can be used as a battery-based backup for when the power does go out, but in my opinion, they probably aren’t worth it when you think about how infrequent power outages are.

If you do need Internet access at all times, even during a power outage, you can use your cellular data allowance and turn your smartphone into a personal hotspot, or buy a dedicated device that works in the same way.