Modems Product Guide
The worst feeling in the world is to sit in front of your computer screen watching the clock tick as you wait for that new song, new video, or just some pictures to download off the Internet.
By upgrading your modem, you have the option of getting faster Internet and online access. New technology is allowing computer users to access the Internet at super-quick speeds. If you have a computer, chances are you already have a modem. To upgrade your modem speed, you can do a number of things. You may simply replace your old modem with a new one or look into getting a DSL or cable connection.
A modem is a device that allows your computer to communicate with another computer over a phone line. You need a modem to access the Internet, send and receive faxes, and/or communicate with your voice over a phone line with your computer. Most notebooks and desktops come with an internal modem. Modems are easy to upgrade. If you'd like to upgrade a modem, you may replace the modem card you have currently installed or buy an external modem, which usually connects to a serial or USB port on your computer.
To connect and download information off the Internet, 56K is one of the more common and practical speeds. 56K is the rate of transfer, and means that your connection allows up to 56-kilobytes of information to be transferred per second. However, if you'd like to access information faster, perhaps if you need to download larger files (like video or audio), quicker modems are available. DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network) and cable modems are some available solutions that speed up on-line connections.
Most notebook computers sold today will include a built-in 56K V.90 modem. If you don't have an internal modem of your notebook computer for whatever reason or would like to upgrade your notebook modem, this is possible through card slots. Modems the size of baseball cards can fit into these slots, along with network adapters and SCSI adapters, among other peripherals.
ISDN or Integrated Service Digital Network is a high-speed connection that allows you to transfer voice, data, and video over a special phone line. Right now, ISDN is considered a good idea gone bad, with the coming of the DSL modem. ISDN links have a transfer rate of 128K bytes per second, which is more than twice as fast as a 56K modem connection. In order to use an ISDN connection for Internet and on-line access, you would need a special modem and separate phone line, which your local telephone company provides. The monthly charges could be anywhere from $40-$60 for an ISDN line, which is close to what charges are for a DSL line (which operates 10 times faster than ISDN). Again, ISDN modems are close to obsolete, and no longer a common option for receiving fast Internet service.
DSL or Digital Subscriber Line, is a new and improved modem connection that allows computer users to retrieve information at quick speeds. Unlike ISDN technology, to get a DSL connection you don't need to install a special phone line. You do, however need a special modem. DSL modems may connect at a rate up to 1.5MB per second, which is more than 25 times faster than a 56K modem, and 10 times quicker than an ISDN line. Some new high-end model computers come already equipped with a DSL modem. Speed comes at a cost to users. Local telephone companies, and other DSL providers charge a monthly service fee between $40-$80 a month for connections like these.
Cable modems allow users to access the Internet via the same coaxial cable that brings cable television into their homes. This option is available for only some people in the United States. There is a monthly fee for service, which averages about $40. The connection and download speeds of a cable connection are similar to that of a DSL connection, which is about 800Kbps to 1.5Mbps. There is also Internet service provided by national satellite companies that usually cost close to $100 a moth plus the price of equipment.
The truth is, the speed at which you connect to the Internet or at which your modem operates, is dependent on a number of different factors. The first, of course, is the speed of your modem. A 56K modem connects to a server at approximately 33,600 bits per second, and downloads information at about 54 or 55K per second. The quality of phone lines, believe it or not, has much to do with how fast the connection is. Bad phone lines and screwy connections can make a 56K modem download at a speed of 33,600 bits per second or less. Another cause of a slow connection may be the quality of the connection on the other end of the phone line, or in other words, if your ISP (Internet Service Provider) has a server problem on their side, your connection also may be slowed down.
So you have a modem? Does this mean you can now access the Internet? Not exactly. The modem is about 75% of the story. In order to access the Internet, you need a dialer (which usually comes with Microsoft Windows 98), and an Internet Service Provider (ISP). ISP accounts range from free unlimited access to $30 a month. Some ISPs offer "unlimited" pricing, and some charge customers for a certain number of hours, and also charge a fee if that limit has been exceeded.
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