Signal and line attenuation

Signal-to-noise ratio

Signal-to-noise ratio (often abbreviated SNR or S/N) is an electrical engineering measurement defined as the ratio of a signal power to the noise power corrupting the signal.

In less technical terms, signal-to-noise ratio compares the level of a desired signal (such as music) to the level of background noise. The higher the ratio, the less obtrusive the background noise is. The concept can also be understood as normalizing the noise level to 1 (0 dB) and measuring how far the signal ‘stands out’. In some instances interleaving can help raise the noise margin to an acceptable level.
In general, higher signal to noise is better; the signal is ‘cleaner’.

Attenuation Rate

Attenuation is the gradual loss in intensity of any kind of flux through a medium(i.e. the reduction in signal strength due to length of your phone line). For instance, sunlight is attenuated by dark glasses, and X-rays are attenuated by lead.In ADSL the signal is attenuated by length of copper lines. Attenuation is normally directly linked to the length of your line. Copper is traditionally used in the local loop and the higher gauge of copper will give the best signal, however some lines may have some aluminium or aluminium joints on the line which will increase resistance… as will oxidization of joints. Attenuation is mesured in db or noise. The more noise the weaker the data signal.

In general, lower Attenuation is better; the signal is ‘stronger’.

Table of Comparisons


6dB or below is very bad and will experience no synch or intermittent synch problems
7dB-10dB is fair but does not leave much room for variances in conditions
11dB-20dB is good with little or no sync problems
20dB-28dB is excellent
29dB or above is outstanding


20dB and below is outstanding
20dB-30dB is excellent
30dB-40dB is very good
40dB-50dB is good
50dB-60dB is poor and may experience connectivity issues
60dB or above is bad and will experience connectivity issues

Distance vs Attenuation vs Speed Guide

The following guide (distance vs. attenuation vs speed) gives you an guesstimate what you can achieve:
1.0km = 13.81dB = 23Mbit
1.5km = 20.7dB = 21Mbit
2.0km = 27.6dB = 18Mbit
2.5km = 34.5dB = 13Mbit
3.0km = 41.4dB = 8Mbit
3.5km = 48.3dB = 6Mbit
4.0km = 56dB = 4Mbit
4.5km = 62.1dB = 3Mbit
5.0km = 69dB = 2Mbit
>5.0km (you are pretty much poked — sorry for you)

Tips on Improving the Quality of your line

Really good tips can be ADSL troubleshooting to help you improve the quality of your line.

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