DSL: A Basic Introduction

June 23, 2009 at 11:34 am (DSL) (, , , , , , )

What is DSL? An acronym for “Digital Subscriber Line”, DSL is a type of broadband connection that typically connects through your home phone line. Broadband is any type of Internet connection that is faster than dial-up, or narrowband. DSL does inhibit the use of your phone line, allowing you to connect to the Internet and receive phone calls at the same time. DSL is an always on connection, so you are constantly connected to the Internet.

How does DSL work? DSL is usually provisioned by a local phone company or a company that partners with a local provider. The connection is typically established between your phone company’s central office, your analog phone line, and a DSL modem. This type of connection maximizes the use of telephone lines by eliminating the conversion from digital to analog, which is required for telephones, or digital to analog to digital, which is required for a dial-up connection.

Do I need a phone line to get DSL? Typically, yes. DSL is usually provided through your existing land line phone. This type of DSL will not work on a digital phone service (i.e., VIOP, cable phones, cell phones, etc.). Dry-loop DSL, or naked DSL is available in some areas and does not require an active phone service. You should check with your DSL provider for more information.

How fast is DSL? Your connection speed is typically directly affected by your proximity to the telephone company’s central office, which is why DSL is often not available to rural homes. The closer you are to the source, the higher speed connection you can recieve. DSL speeds usually ranges anywhere from 500-6000 kbps (kilobits per second). For a comparison, dial-up is usually a 20-40 kbps connection. Even the slowest download speed on DSL is sufficient for normal web-surfing, email, and most audio and video streaming, but if you are planning on using more than one computer, play online video games, or download large files frequently, you will want to get one of the higher speed plans available.

How much does DSL cost? Again, this depends on where you live and what is available in your area. Prices can range from $12-100 a month, including the cost of equipment, depending on what speed you want and what company provides your service. Keep in mind that the price you see advertised in brochures or online may not be available for you or is an introductory rate that will increase after the first few months. Also, if multiple plans are available, low prices are for slower, sometimes unsatisfactory connection speeds. Depending on your purpose for buying DSL, you may need to find a plan that offers higher speeds at a higher cost. Also watch for additional fees, cancellation fees, contracts, and extra equipment costs when determining your final price for your service.

How do I install DSL in my home? DSL comes in different forms for different purposes, so the installation process will differ. For most home DSL plans, you can expect to wait 5-10 business days for your phone line to be provisioned for DSL and you will need to buy or lease a DSL modem. You will also need to set up filters, splitters, a few wires and cables, as well as a router if you want to use a wireless laptop. You can refer to your DSL provider for more details and installation instructions.

The first step to connect with DSL is to find out whether it is available in your area. You can search online or check with your local companies for more information. When you do, find out if what companies provide DSL specifically to your house, then check for prices, speeds, contracts, and other plan details to find the plan that’s best for you.


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Preparing Your Home for Dial-up: 7 Steps for Getting Started

June 3, 2009 at 2:59 pm (Dial up) (, , , )

With the ever-present and growing need for online access, Internet services in the home is becoming more necessary than ever before. With the current economic struggles affecting you and your family, dial-up internet is a great way to get that much needed Internet service and save money in the process. Whether you’re preparing to connect for the first time, or moving into a new home, there are a few things that you should be consider before calling the ISP to set up dial-up Internet service. These tips will help you make sure you will have everything you need to connect:

1. Check your phone line. In order to have a dial-up connection, you must have an analog landline phone, not just a phone jack, or a digital VoIP phone, or even a cable-provisioned phone. You will get an error 680, “No Dial Tone” if you try to connect to the Internet without an analog phone. Call your phone company if you do not know whether your phone is analog or digital. Some cell phones have dial-up modems that can be used with dial-up. If you are not sure, check with your provider or the cell phone manual.
2. Check for a dial-up modem. Most computers have a dial-up modem already installed on the computer, but some of the newer, cheaper computers are now being sold without dial-up modems. How can you tell if your computer has a modem? Check your tower or the back and sides of your laptop for a phone port. It should look just like a phone jack in your wall and sometimes is labeled with the picture of a phone plug or the word “line”. Don’t get your modem phone port confused with an Ethernet port, which is slightly larger and used for broadband cables.
3. Make sure your modem is working properly. You can test your modem by hooking it up with a regular telephone cord to a landline jack and creating a test dial-up account manually. You can get local access numbers from ISP websites or by calling their customer service. If you get 691 “Invalid Username and Password” error, you have established a connection to the Internet, and your modem is working properly. Any other error could indicate that your modem is not working or you possibly set up the dialer wrong. A local technician could also test and repair your modem issues if necessary. However, if you decide to take your computer to a technician, keep in mind that you may end up spending more fixing a used modem than if you just buy a new modem.
4. Buy a modem if necessary. If you don’t have a modem on your computer or it does not work, you will probably need to buy a modem. A “56 K” modem is the most recent dial-up modem and any model should be compatible to your computer, but ask a store attendant if you are not sure. You can find dial-up modems in most computer stores and department stores. Prices vary depending on the store and the type of modem you buy. You should look for external modems, as opposed to internal modems (which require removing your computer case and physically installing it inside your tower). External modems usually plug into a USB port and even amateurs should not have trouble following the installation directions.
5. Consider extra phone and modem features. If you want to be able to receive calls while you are connected, you will need to add call waiting to your phone plan. You will also need a V.92 modem that has the “modem-on-hold” feature. Caller ID is also helpful so you can see who is calling and determine if it is worth disconnecting from the Internet to take the call. V.92 modems may also help you connect at faster speeds. To check what type of modem you have on your computer, check the phone and modem options on your control panel, refer to the computer/modem manual, or check with a local technician. Your ISP can also help you locate your modem properties.
6. Check for local access numbers. Your ISP will probably give you a local access number, but they cannot verify that it is local for you. Ask for several access numbers in your area and call your phone company. Make sure these data transfer numbers will not incur any extra charges on your phone plan. If you have unlimited long distance and don’t have local access numbers, you still want to get the closest number possible to sustain a better connection. You may need to ask your long distance phone company about their policy of data transfer numbers or excessive usage. Some unlimited long distance companies may threaten to terminate your service for using a long distance access numbers excessively.
7. Consider your total expenses. Check out a variety of ISP’s available to you. Do they have contracts, hidden fees? What are the payment methods and prices, and do the prices change over time? What are the terms of service? Make sure there are no additional charges and that you understand the signup, billing, and cancellation procedure so that you do not incur unnecessary charges over a misunderstanding. How do you cancel if you’re not satisfied? There are many ISP’s wanting your business and offering great prices. Make sure you look around and get something that will give you the best deal and satisfaction. Run a search query on the name of the ISP and “promotion” or “special offer” to see if you can get a first time customer discount.
Now that you are prepared for dial-up, you can connect simply and avoid some of the typical start up surprises. Happy dial-up shopping!

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Dial-up vs. Satellite Internet

May 29, 2009 at 3:33 pm (Dial up) (, , , )

In spite of government and internet companies’ eager attempts to make broadband available to the entire U.S., many rural homes across the country have little or no access to DSL and cable. Two types of internet services are often available for these areas: dial up and satellite.

Dial up internet has multiple benefits over satellite internet. The most obvious difference is the price. The total monthly cost of dialup is between 10 and 20 dollars a month with little or no additional fees including set up or equipment fees. Satellite internet has a monthly fee somewhere between 40 to 350 dollars a month, not including the price of leasing or buying the equipment, installation, and other fees such as repair plans, technical support, or contract fees.

Even a far stretch of the possible expenses of dialup will not come near the price of satellite. A dialup modem, for example is typically between 20 and 50 dollars, but is usually already installed on the computer. Other than a land line and a phone cord, that is the extent of the “equipment” and “installation” costs.

Reliability and convenience are two areas where dial up exceeds satellite. Connecting to the internet with most dialup services is available to any computer that has a land line phone. That means you can take your services with you when you vacation or travel. It is not confined to the home where the satellite dish is installed.

Satellite does brag faster speeds, but can be abruptly terminated in the event of inclement weather or damage to the expensive satellite dish. Also, satellite is limited to only those homes that are owned (renters must have permission to install a dish) and have a clear view of the southern sky. This makes it difficult for anyone who lives in a wooded area or near other large buildings.

Getting started with dialup is often as simple as a phone call and a configuration of settings on the computer, where setting up satellite could take several weeks, not to mention the amount of time and cost that would be considerably higher should a repair be necessary.

If you need a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to connect to the internet, choose dial up!

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