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Connecting to the Internet
Some data outdated but much still valid

There are various ways to connect to the Internet. For all practical purposes, the terms Web, WWW, & Net all refer to the Internet and are used interchangeably. There are some differences, but unimportant to the novice user.

Using the web consists of 3 basic functions: 1) Connecting, 2) Using a program called a Browser, and 3) E-Mail
and now (in 2007) includes a lot of new stuff like Chat, IM, UTube, MySpace, Etc.

1) Connecting: A company that provides a service to connect you to the Net is called an ISP (Internet Service Provider). There are custom ones like AOL and CompuServe. There are ISP's that do nothing but provide the connection for a fee and there are ISP's that provide the connection at no charge in exchange for advertising, much like a newspaper. There are ISP's that provide fast connections using Cable or DSL, satellite and wireless.
Click Here or Here to learn about broadband.

2) Browser: Check the Browser page for information about browsing.

3) Surfing: Click here to learn tips on surfing

Modem Connections: 56K modem connections are quickly becoming obsolete as they are replaced by cable and DSL. A modem is a device that sends electrical information into the telephone line or cable so it can be received by another modem on another computer. You can get technical discussions of modems elsewhere on the Net. Our purpose here is to explain the general concept.

Older computers may still be using slower modems, but have mostly been replaced by newer equipment. A fax machine transfers data in the same way and is limited to 14.4K.

Modems operating on a standard phone line rarely achieve 56K transfer speed due to line limitations. If you get over 40K, you are doing as well as possible. If you are below 40K, you might consider improving the connection. Move up to a 56K modem or if you already have one, check the phone line.

Most telephone modems are inside the computer. They can be identified by the telephone jack outlet in the back of the computer. External modems are available, but rarely used on home computers. New computers may or may not be supplied with a modem. Be sure to ask if you need one for using the computer for faxing or other needs.

Paid ISP's charge from $10 to $25 per month. Add that to the need for a second phone line at around $20 and the next two services don't look bad.

Note: most free services have been dropped.

Another type of modem is used for high speed connection to cable or DSL or wireless. These are special modems that connect to the telephone line (for DSL) and to the television coax cable in the case of Cable or to a receiver box for wireless.

DSL is a service that transfers data over the telephone line at a frequency that does not interfere with regular phone calls. This means you can have only one phone line for the telephone and your computer and use them at the same time. In order to have DSL service, it must be available in your area. Even though it uses the regular phone lines, there are special equipment requirements in the phone system.

DSL typically costs about the same as Cable at about $40 to $50 per month after Installation cost that can run from $100 to $300 or more. Many services run a special when it is first made available to provide a free modem and free DIY installation.

With DSL, you are not usually locked into using just your telephone company. There is even one free DSL provider at www.freedsl.com if available in your area. The DSL modem has a connection for the phone jack in the wall and a network connection to your computer. Your internal modem is not used for Internet service. If you use your computer as a telephone answering machine or for sending and receiving faxes, your internal modem will still be connected to the phone line.

Cable modem service can only be provided by your local cable provider and also may not be available yet in your area. Information is transferred over the coax TV cable. The modem has an outlet to connect the coax to and another outlet to connect to your computer with a network wire. Network wire is similar to a telephone wire, but the plugs are slightly larger. The statements for the internal modem above in the DSL discussion apply here as well.

Satellite service is available in any location. It typically is more expensive than the others, but if you have no cable or DSL services in your area, it may be your only choice. Check out www.wildblue.com/ for more info.

Wireless ISP's may be available in your area. Most are higher speed than dialup and are also somewhat more expensive. In our area, we have a number of competing services. Look in your yellow pages for local services. Check carefully on prices. Installation, contracts and monthly charges vary widely. You might even question existing customers about reliability. That also may be a problem.

For the first 3 years in Pahrump, I used a company called Keyon based in Las Vegas. For the most part it worked well for me, but some customers had a lot of down time. Most wireless providers work by putting a special antenna on the outside of your house aimed at a tower receiver somewhere in line of sight to your house. Then a cable is brought into the house to your computer.

In November 2006, I switched to AT&T Wi-Max service. This is a new concept being tested by AT&T currently in Pahrump & some place in Texas. The antenna is on a small box that can be placed inside your house or even carried around in your car or moved to a new location. Great for service techs. There are some problems with it as with any service. Here are pics of the receiver.

For more info about WiMax, search for it on the web. AT&T is only one of many companies using the technology. It was developed by Intel. www.wimax.com is the main site but there are many worth checking out. This technology has the potential of replacing cell phones and many other wireless services and being truly mobile. The antennas cover much larger areas that current cell towers.

http://wireless-watch.com/2007/01/16/soma-700mhz-in-wisconsin/ is an article about it in Wisconsin and http://www.wimax.com/commentary/spotlight/analystscorner2005_05_01 is another article from Soma (the antenna supplier)

The WiMax from AT&T equipment is mailed to you & you install it. It is easy plug-in. I did so in November of 2006 and had good service for about 3 months. I was not happy with the wireless network iside my house, so I moved the equipment tyo another room allowing me to hard wire the computer to the network router. Then the system went to pot. I did not connect the problem to the move as I thought the antenna was not location sensitive. Turns out I was wrong. After many phone calls, I discovered that this service has a problem when you are in an overlap area between two towers.

When the antenna is placed correctly, I get download speeds from 700 to 1100 kbps. The speeds do seem to vary a lot. I run tests with speakeasy and with AT&T's own test. Here is a typical test when it is running good.

If you have any questions about any of this, feel free to E-Mail me using the link below

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