Computers were once limited to large corporations and universities. Nowadays many individuals have more than one computer. With the wide variety of choices and rapidly advancing technologies, it is sometimes confusing and difficult to to sort out the options. Here you may find some information that can help you decide what is right for you.
The Internet is a collection of computers networked together and is accessed by millions worldwide. The Internet can be used to do anything from reading the news to buying/selling stocks. When one wants to connect to the Internet, he/she wants access to this network of computers. There was a time that the vast majority of households were connected to the Internet through a telephone line, but households have more choices. We will discuss some of these choices here.
This is the method of connecting to the Internet that most households are familiar with. Using a modem installed on the computer, the user dials into a service such as AOL or NetZero and gets access to their Internet. You will need a modem (an external or internal device; it is physically connected to your computer and to your telephone line so that your computer can access a phone line) and a service provider. Service providers typically range anywhere from $9.95-$29.95 a month. The advantage of dial-up is its low costs. The downside is its slow speeds which means that only one computers can use it at a time (as opposed to a network of computers). It also will tie up your phone line. Most users, even casual ones, find the speed limitations of dial-up unacceptable.
DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. It uses conventional telephone wires to a modem (not to be confused with the modems used in a dial-up). The modem then connects to the computer via a network interface. Your computer will always be connected to the Internet and not interfere with your phone line. You will have to look-up DSL availability in your area. Service providers charge anywhere from $39.95 - $49.95. Often times, service providers will provide rebates and additional price incentives. The advantage of DSL is its high speed connections, it does not clog up the phone line, and you will be able to network several computers in your house or office to the DSL line. Effectively, you can connect several computers to the Internet using one DSL line. Its disadvantage is it costs more than a dial-up connection. Sometimes DSL also offers limited upstream capabilities compared to a cable modem.
A cable modem allows the user to connect to the Internet via the cable line (the one that is connected to your TV). Other than the physical differences (one utilizes a cable line and the other uses telephone wiring), they work in much the same way. A cable line connects to your "cable modem." Your cable modem is connected to your computer via network interface. Again, your computer will always be connected. Service providers charge anywhere from $39.95 - $49.95. The advantages of cable modem are its high speed connections, it doesn't tie up your phone line, and several networked computers can access it at the same time with reasonable performance. Its disadvantages are its price relative to dial-up, and if you are in an area where there is a lot of cable modem traffic, your connection will be impacted. It will be noticeably slower because cable modem users in a particular area share the same lines. DSL works differently, and DSL users are never affected by high network traffic areas.
For the home or office that would like several computers to connect to the Internet at once, dial-up connection should not be considered. If DSL is available in your area, it has an edge over cable modem for the fact that neighboring network usage does not impact you. Cable modem is a comparable alternative to DSL..
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