The increasing popularity of and demand for broadband Internet propels the goal of providing it to the entire U.S. Many rural homes across the country, however, have little or no access to DSL and cable. Both of these popular broadband services require costly upgrades or wiring and is not considered worthwhile for many rural homes—some for now, others, maybe always. Until then, two types of Internet are often available for these areas: dial-up and satellite.
Dial-up Internet varies greatly from satellite Internet. One obvious difference, and often the deciding factor for many, is the price. The total monthly cost of dial-up is between 10-20 dollars a month and usually the set up is free—assuming you have a dial-up modem and a local access number. Satellite internet, on the other hand, has a monthly fee of 40-350 dollars a month (depending on the speed/download allowance you want). The total cost includes the price of leasing or buying the equipment (dish, router, etc.), installation, and other fees, such as repair plans, technical support, or contract fees. Even if you get the cheapest, slowest plan, you will have to pay at least $100 up front to get started.
Even a far stretch of the possible expenses you’ll have with dial-up will not come near the price of satellite. A dial-up modem, for example, is typically between 20 and 50 dollars, but is usually already installed on the computer. If you don’t have a land line phone service, you can consider that into your monthly costs.
Another difference in these Internet services is the connection speed. Satellite is many times faster than dial-up, which is the only reason people are willing to pay so much more. Dial-up can usually not be connected constantly, and downloads are painfully slow. However, many satellite plans have download limits and your connection can be restricted to dial-up speeds as a penalty for exceeding those limits.
Connectivity can be an issue for both satellite and dial-up. Dial-up can have trouble connecting if the phone lines to your house are old or a considerable distance from the phone company’s central office. Static or other line noise can cause slow connections and frequent disconnects. Since satellite signals from the sky, inclement weather can cause disrupted or slow connectivity, which can be a problem for areas with frequent stormy weather. You can only get satellite if you own your home (renters must have permission to install a dish) and have a clear view of the southern sky. Just like with cell phones, you may not be able to get a good connection with satellite if you live in a wooded or mountainous area.
Getting started with dial-up is often as simple as a phone call and a configuration of settings on the computer, unless you order a disk to set up software. Dial-up can be set up on multiple computers and just needs a phone cord plugged into the back to get started. This means you can use dial-up while you’re traveling or on vacation. Setting up satellite could take several weeks with ordering, shipping and installing equipment. The time and cost of installing equipment and setting up the connection on satellite is clearly greater than dial-up.
Satellite Internet is a viable option if you require a broadband connection for your needs and can’t get DSL or cable, providing the pre-qualifications are met and no major weather obstructions occur too frequently. Dial-up Internet is a easy and affordable option for you if you don’t spend much time online and don’t want to bothered with fees and contracts, providing you have quality land lines and a working dial-up modem.
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.