A growing alternative to the slower modem solutions, are solutions that are referred to as broadband. These are methods of connecting to the Internet that don't cost an arm and a leg and keep the computer connected permanently and at MUCH higher speeds.
ADSL / DSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) modems. A DSL modem and an Ethernet card are required for installation. A splitter may also be required. A splitter is a frequency filter that separates the high frequencies used for sending data upstream and receiving downstream data from the low frequency range used for voice. These high and low frequencies are transmitted at the same time.
The word asymmetric is used because these modems send data faster in one direction than they do in another. DSL is a very high-speed connection that uses the same wires as a regular telephone line. It is also called xDSL and ADSL. Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Lines (ADSL) gained popularity in 1999. ADSL is a new technology that allows more data to be sent over existing copper telephone lines. ADSL supports data rates of from 1.5 to 9 Mbps when receiving data (known as the downstream rate) and from 16 to 640 Kbps when sending data (known as the upstream rate).
DSL is one of the first affordable broadband solution for the home which makes accessing the Net faster than with a 56k dial-up modem. The DSL / ADSL is a network box that uses the normal phone line and connects the computer to the Internet permanently. What this means is that the user never has to wait for the computer to dial a service and connect. The trick with ADSL is that downloads (which is what customers do 95% of the time) are VERY fast, but the uploads aren't quite as fast. ADSL can be purchased through most local phone companies.
An ADSL modem takes advantage of the fact that any normal home, apartment or office has a dedicated copper wire running between it and the nearest phone company's central office. This dedicated copper wire can carry far more data than the 3,000-hertz signal needed for the telephone's voice channel. If both the phone company's central office and the place where the computer is housed are equipped with an ADSL modem, then the section of copper wire between the computer and the phone company can act as a purely digital high-speed transmission channel. The capacity is something like 1 million bits per second (Mbps) between the home and the phone company (upstream) and 8 Mbps between the phone company and the home (downstream) under ideal conditions. The same line can transmit both a phone conversation and the digital data.
Cable Modem. A cable television system typically has 60 or more channels, and most of them are used for programming services like CNN, ESPN and HBO. These channels also can be used to offer high-speed Internet access service. Using the cable television fiber-optic wire as a backbone, the cable company can place a box in the home that will allow for high-speed downloads and not so bad uploads. The only catch is that all the neighbors share the line. If the neighborhood has several people using cable modems, a significant loss in download and upload times will be noticed. Cable modems can be purchased through the local cable company.
Many cable companies and Internet service providers argue that cable modems are as much as 100 times faster than a dial up Internet connection, running at an ultra-fast speed of 5 million bits per second (mbps). In theory, it is possible. But a more realistic speed is 1 mbps, or about 20 times faster than a typical 56,000-bits-per-second (kbps) dial-up connection. Still, that's quite a leap in performance. Web pages that can take minutes to paint with a dial-up connection will pop up instantly with a cable modem.
Cable modem subscribers are typically charged for service on their cable bill, rather than paying the Internet provider directly. But the cable company and ISP have distinct responsibilities.
The local cable company is responsible for installing the cable modem and managing the quality of the service over the local cable network. At the cable company's main network office—commonly called the "headend"—customers are connected to the cable ISP's national backbone. It, in turn, is plugged into the Internet. The Internet provider actually provides the Internet connectivity, while the cable company will provide basic technical support. Customers may also be directed to the Internet provider when there are problems.
Cable modem service typically covers the cable modem rental fee; unlimited Internet access; and Internet application software, such as a Web browser and e-mail applications. Cable modem service installation fees cover cable wiring, an Ethernet card for the computer, and software configuration.
Cable modem service availability is still relatively limited. That's because cable companies must first upgrade their networks by installing fiber-optic lines and two-way data-transmission capabilities—a time-consuming, expensive undertaking.
Check with the local cable company for availability in a particular area or check appropriate web sites.
Satellite Internet is one method of experiencing a broadband connection. As the name implies, satellite Internet uses a space satellite to deliver broadband access to homes. Because of this, even homes in areas where DSL or Cable are not available can receive high-speed access. Of course that access does come at a price. Satellite Internet is one of the more costly broadband alternatives.
Two types of Satellite Internet currently are available. These types are known as one-way and two-way. One-way Satellite Internet provides fast download speeds of between 400 Kbps and 1.5 Mbps. For uploading, however, a traditional dial-up modem is required so the speed would not improve. On the other hand, two-way Internet satellite does not require the use of a traditional modem so it delivers faster download and upload speeds of around 200 Kbps. Whether a one-way or two-way service is chosen depends primarily on availability (some providers offer only one or the other) and on the customer's budget (one-way service is generally less expensive).
While Satellite Internet can be the ideal choice for some broadband seekers, it does have its drawbacks. One is that there must be a clear, unobstructed view of the southern sky to receive the signal. Another is lags in the time between clicking on a link and receiving the data. These lags, known as latency, do not interfere with most Internet activities but can cause slowdown during online games.
Five Important Facts about Satellite Internet.
Satellite Internet comes in two varieties. Early Satellite Internet only provided one-way service to subscribers. This type of service meant that the user kept a traditional dial-up modem in order to access the Internet but all web page requests and downloads were handled by the separate satellite modem. Now two-way systems are also available. In a two-way system, there is no longer a need for the dial-up modem. Instead, the satellite modem handles both uploads and downloads. One-way systems are typically less expensive than the two-way variety and may be more readily available.
Satellite Internet downloads faster than dial-up . No matter which type of service chosen, download speeds with satellite Internet are significantly higher than with a standard 56K modem. In fact, speeds ranging from 400 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps, can be expected which means a song or a large file can be downloaded in only 1-2 minutes, perhaps even less. With a 56K modem, it may take as much as 20-30 minutes or longer.
Satellite Internet is one of the more expensive broadband options. Because it requires the purchase of expensive equipment, Satellite Internet does include a rather high up-front cost. A satellite dish and modem must be purchased and installed. Professional installation may be the wisest decision. In addition, there be a monthly service fee to the Internet provider. Also, with one-way service, there will be the additional cost of the dial up provider. Users can save money by taking advantage of special offers from the providers, such as receiving the dish for free if signing up is for a certain period of service.
Satellite Internet is available almost everywhere. While it does cost more, the real advantage of Satellite Internet is that it is available to almost everyone. Unlike Cable or DSL, which require a pre-installed and complex infrastructure to provide service, Satellite Internet does not so it can even be used in rural areas or small cities that lack the means to get other forms of broadband. The only requirement needed in order to receive Satellite Internet is an unobstructed view of the southern sky.
Satellite Internet does require extra equipment. Whether one-way or two-way service is chosen, a satellite dish and a satellite modem are required. The service provider sells these. A self-install kit is available for those preferring to install the dish themselves. With one-way service a dial up modem is also a requirement.