Everything you ever wanted to know about how ADSL works, but didn't have anyone to ask :)
The diagram below shows you all of the different elements involved in connecting you to the Internet, we'll run through each of these items starting with the telephone pole (because it's where the ADSL line reaches your home) and explain a bit more about their role :
The Telephone Pole and phone Line
This is where the cables from the Telkom exchange arrive at your home. Your phone line may not always terminate on an actual pole as in some parts of the country underground cables are more commonly used.
The Wall Jack, the microfilter and the phone
The phone terminates at the wall jack in your home. From there you need to connect a microfilter. The microfilter splits the signal between your phone, or other analogue devices like fax machines and the ADSL router. It's job is to protect your ADSL connection from interference and line noise generated by analogue devices so it's really important not to leave this out. If you have extra wall jacks in your house you should put a microfilter on each one – even if there's nothing plugged in as an open wall jack alone can cause interference on your ADSL signal.
The router is the hub for your local network and the device that 'speaks' ADSL. It's responsible for logging into MWEB with your username and password, and 'translating' the ADSL signals coming down the line. It's also responsible for assigning addresses to the PC'S and other devices on your local network and connecting them all together and giving them access to the Internet, either via network cables plugged into the Ethernet ports, or via the built in wireless access point, which almost all ADSL routers will have these days.
The Wifi Extender
With so many devices relying on wireless connectivity these days a Wifi Extender of some type is becoming a common feature on home networks.
The extender's job is to pick up the wireless signal from your router and repeat it. This means you can stretch the range of your wireless signal and extend it into hard to reach parts of the house.
The Many Many Devices
Then we have these, without which having the Internet wouldn't have much point! These are your notebooks, your tablets, your smartphones, your smart TV's, your gaming consoles, your media servers – one of these days even your fridge and your microwave oven, will have built-in Internet access!
The Telkom Exchange
Going back in the other direction from the telephone pole your phone line joins up with the phone lines from all of your neighbours houses at a junction box somewhere and then runs back to the nearest Telkom Exchange. In the exchange all of the ADSL lines are connected to a special network switch called a DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer).
The Telkom Network
All of Telkom's Exchanges are linked together to form a network, which you'll sometimes hear referred to as the Telkom 'Backhaul' network. Your Internet traffic is routed onto this network and sent down the line until it reaches a special connection between MWEB and Telkom called an IPC link.
MWEB Data Centre
Once your traffic reaches the IPC link it gets sent on to MWEB's data centre where all of our various servers are setup to store your email and other vital information, but more importantly where we have our links to the rest of the country and to undersea cables like Seacom that get your traffic out onto the Internet.