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Inside your Computer - Internet Connections


Internet Connections

So you have your computer, and you are wishing to go on the Internet, or you are on the Internet and want to upgrade. So what is available in todayís market?

(Please note 1024k = 1 MB)

A modem is one such item. It uses standard analogue phone lines to connect to the Internet. This is now the slowest and oldest method to connect, but comes with a very low price tag. V92 is the latest and probably the last type of modem released in the market and allows connections speeds of up to 56kb. It can be bought from as low as £10. All Internet providers allow modem dialups.


ISDN is the next step, but is still an older technology, which requires the use of two phone lines to connect to the web. This service is becoming harder and harder to find as most Internet providers do not wish to be burdened with it. ISDN allows connection speeds of up to 128kb, and usually requires you to rent two phone lines, and pay a monthly bill. Unless you are really desperate for faster speeds then it is best avoided.

ADSL & Cable is the fastest growing way to connect to the Internet. ADSL uses standard analogue lines with advanced circuit boards to allow high-speed connections on the Internet. In theory the ADSL can allow connection speeds of up to 9 MB a second, but no provider gives these types of speeds. The ranges typically available are from 256kb to 2mb per second. If available in your area, I would recommend using this type of connection, which is typically 10 times the speed to a standard modem connection. Cable modems are much the same, but use fibre optic cables to transmit the data, the same cables that carry your TV signals.

Wireless broadband is a new product on the market, and not a lot of people know of its existence. It allows users in areas not covered by an ADSL upgraded exchanges to receive broadband. The biggest problem with this service is the coverage presently only includes major cities, towns and their surrounding villages, and only in certain parts of the world.  

Satellite broadband is another technology, which is in development; the biggest problem with it is most companies canít decide which technology to use, either 1-way (Download from satellite only) or 2-way (Download and upload from satellite). 2-way broadband seems the obvious answer but it comes with complications, to use a 2-way satellite requires a license, as you are using a transmitting device, where as 1-way does not, but this still limits you to phone line upload speeds.


Buyers Guide

So the question is what do you buy? Well the good news, is that most, if not all computers are sold with modems, and almost all companies provide ISDN/cable/ADSL modems when you signup. (Check with the Companies that you have decided to go with before buying.) Remember though, if all you use the internet for is to collect and send emails, then a modem dialup on a pay as you go contract, is basically all you require.

Alternatively though you can opt for an internal ADSL cards or an external modem. ADSL and Cable also come with the option of being used on multiple computers in a home using wireless, or wired routers with built in ADSL/Cable modems, but that is another story which we will cover at a later date.

One great advantage of using Satellite, wireless, ADSL and Cable is that the phone is not engaged while in use, meaning you can talk and browse the internet at the same time.

Wireless broadband is actually quite an affordable option (This is mainly available in the UK). UK prices start at £1 per day, plus an installation charge of £99. This is only slightly more expensive to run than standard ADSL. Speed starts at 512kb download/upload and the higher range service is 1024kb download/upload, this service does offer higher upload speeds than ADSL, which is commonly half the download speed, if not less. You need to search the internet for availability in your area.

1024kb = 1mb

Satellite broadband in the other hand is very expensive; searching the UK was quite difficult to find providers, and the cheapest monthly charge I could find was £75. (This was a 512kb download/upload rate). This service seems aimed at businesses, not the home user, it can be affected by adverse weather, and may require a license to be used.

The US in other hand seems to be a lot more competitive, and satellite broadband is definitely an option for the home user.


Looking at these two services I would advise users in the UK to wait it out as ADSL is expanding next year with the introduction of new technology to the BT exchanges. This will increase coverage to over 90% of the UK population (Presently at 60%). Remember though if you donít have broadband in your area register your interest on BTís website, the more people that do it, the quicker ADSL will arrive.



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