Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Phone Lines
Name: Linda
Status: Student
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1999

Dear Sir or Madam:
I have a computer at home and I want to hoot it up to the Internet. The cable company would not do it for another two years, and the phone company says that I'm too far away from a swith to get DSL and ISDN. A friend tells me that the fastest I can go is 56kbps! But I have stuff to do! Why can't phone lines handle speeds more like cable modems (around 10Mbps)? What other options might I have other than dialup?

I would be so grateful if you could give me a reply.

That is a great question.

The main reason the phone lines cannot accommodate anything faster than 56k, is due to the fact of old lines and public telephone switches that are not capable of 600k-1.5mb like DSL. Your phone company is right when they say that you are too far from a switch, this means that your DSL line will use the same line technology that is in your house, they are the ones that have to change the hung, or underground lines to accommodate the fast data rate. To accomplish the high speeds, your house has to be physically close to a switch, these length restrictions are usually around 2-3 miles from a switch. Thanks for the question and using NEWTON.

Thanks for using NEWTON!
Joe Noga MCP, N+
Network Support
Argonne National Laborator

Click here to return to the Computer Science Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory