We use high-speed Internet every day, and we love it. Sadly, it's impossible. It's becoming obvious that we're all living in some Matrix-style construct and the machines are just making us think we've got all this cool technology -- in reality we're just sloshing around in some ghastly goo generating power for them.
What makes ADSL so improbable is it's transmitting a huge amount of data over some very ancient copper. That's right, copper, the stuff that isn't anywhere near as interesting or valuable as gold. In some ways, it's a shame the technology behind ADSL is actually quite simple -- it's annoying no one thought of it sooner. We could have saved most of the 90s if we'd left dial-up hell a little sooner.
So, how does ADSL manage to send high-speed data down the same cables you use to have a low-quality, mono conversation with someone? Sadly, this one's easy to explain. The portion of the phone line you use to make voice calls is only a small part of the available bandwidth available on the line. ADSL uses the frequencies above these voice calls to send and receive data -- which is why you can surf the Net and speak at the same time. Microfilters in your home mean you shouldn't hear interference on your voice line from the data being transmitted.
The speed of ADSL is governed by your distance from the exchange -- not because electrons are lazy, but because longer lines introduce interference that make data transfer less reliable, and more in need of error correction. ADSL isn't going away either, although we're at the speed limit of what we can expect until BT installs fibre-optic cables to streets across the UK. Because your phone line will then be connected to a fibre cabinet via a short length of copper, you'll be able to get very fast Internet using VDSL.
As much as we understand the way it works, we still can't help think it's just an elaborate ruse, and that data sent via the Internet is actually just carried by rats operating deep under the cities of the world. That would certainly explain the awful ping we get in CounterStrike. Hey, give those rats a bit of speed, will you?