| IRC NEWS | PR 100099 |
Connecting to the Internet - Wrap Up
By Mark Goldstein
The CyberSkeptic's Guide has spent the last few issues featuring the various technology solutions for fast Web access. Here we'll summarize and compare your options (or lack of them). Unfortunately, only a fraction of the population can get one or more of them today, aside from satellite, which has ubiquitous coverage. Increasing deregulation of telecommunications markets and growing competitive pressures are leading to the urge to converge voice, video and data services onto a single pipe or delivery medium. Two factors are driving an accelerated deployment and availability of these services. They are the massive investment in long-haul fiber optic back-bones and consumers' demand for better Internet performance.
Your Mileage May Vary
Wireless options abound, from slow cellular and the newer Personal Communication Systems (PCS) networks (that will evolve to higher-speed third-generation mobile data systems) to fixed wireless Internet access from single towers. And new constellations of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites cover the entire world without regard to geography with broadband projects on the drawing board.
But What Do You Really Need?
Rest assured that if the bandwidth you need doesn't reach your location today, a bevy of competitive providers and technologies are working their ways through the trenches and across the skies to get it to you.
|Dial-up Modem||ISDN||xDSL||Cable Modem||Terrestrial Wireless||Satellite Wireless|
|Downstream Data Rate||53 Kbps||128 Kbps||256 Kbps - 7 Mbps||400 Kbps- 3 Mbps||9.6 Kbps- 1 Mbps||33.6 Kbps- 400 Kbps|
|Upstream Data Rate||33.6 Kbps||128 Kbps||64 Kbps - 1 Mbps||128 Kbps - 3 Mbps||33.6 Kbps via dial-up to 256 Kbps wireless||33.6 Kbps via dial-up; faster wireless later|
|Pros||Easy & cheap. Widely Available||First digital service. Broad availability||Low cost potential. Shares phone line wiht voice. Switched circuit dedicates connection. Developing GLite standard to accelerate 1 Mbps rate availability.||Low Cost potential. Accelerating urban deployment. DOCSIS standard released.||Single antenna for large area. Quick to deplot with great regional coverage.||Works anywhere. Additional systems to be launched. higher data rates pending.|
|Cons||Rates limited by phone quality. Ties up a phone line.||Setup can be problematic. Availability limited by distance from telco office.||Standardization pending. Availability limited by network upgrades & distance from telco office.||Limited availability to business. HFC upgrades still in progress.||Limited upstream data rates with telco return. Only available in some markets. Line of sight only.||Expensive interface hardware and service costs. No broadband until 2002.|