Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

As broadband modems boom, dial-up going way of the dodo

Freelance

By QUINCEY HOBBS

Thirty years ago very few people outside of the Arpanet project would have thought the world would be communicating via computers around the globe as we are. The dial-up modem connected some of the first generation residential users of the World Wide Web. It ferried information along the phone lines.

We are at a place now where a broadband connection is king. As I have stated in the past, broadband is becoming the standard. Dial-up connects are suitable for someone who does not frequent the Internet.

If you do use the Internet quite regularly, then broadband may be the way to go. The faster downloads will save your sanity in the long run.

The two top dogs in the residential market are cable and DSL. They both have their strong points and their shortcomings.

One area that they concede to dial-up connections is in price. Broadband connections are generally $30 to $40 more than dial-up connections. You get your money’s worth, for the most part.

You get superior download speeds and you also gain a dedicated connection. This means that your computer is always connected to the Internet, and that you do not have to listen the dial-up modem serenade that sounds like the mating call of a lonely fax machine.

For those of you that are fearful of being constantly connected to the Internet, rest your fears. A personal firewall program, which you can download for free, or computer security software should be adequate defenders of your turf. If that does not allay your fears, then you can always unplug the modem.

Believe it or not, the first portion of this column served as a preamble to let you know that the residential broadband market is no longer a two-horse race.

Before I start receiving e-mails reminding me that that there are other broadband options besides cable and DSL, I’d like to recognize them. Some other broadband connections are satellite, ISDN, and T1 to name a few. They all cater toward specific demographics.

Satellite, for instance, is more desirable in situations where cable and DSL are not offered. T1 is geared more for business, government, and educational institutions. The new kid on the block is BPL.

BPL or broadband power line offers a broadband connection through, of all places, your power line. This means that you will be able to plug a cord that serves as the modem, into your computer and any wall outlet in your home. There is even talk of building new homes that have an outlet/modem hybrid already installed. This means that you would only need to plug your computer into the wall. The price and speed are comparable to cable and DSL.

This new broadband has been tested in cities around the country. This is one of the new things that I would expect to seep into Tucson within the next few years, preferably next year.

Quincey Hobbs has more than 10 years of experience in the information technology field including time working with signal routers (hubs) as a switch communications team member, team member of the University of Arizona’s Center for Computing and Information Technology and as an instructor at Pima Community College. E-mail questions to answers@tucsoncitizen.com or send a fax to Business Editor at 573-4569.

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