What kind of Internet access do you really have? Broadband? High Speed? Wireless? Satellite? Fibre? There are so many different names for selling Internet access, but most of them don’t tell you how you are connecting to the Internet. Now is a good time to find out and see just what they mean for you.
Dial-upThis is where it all started. You would take your home or office phone handset, and put it into a cradle called a modulator/demodulator, or modem as we know them today.
The modem took digital signals from your computer and turned them into audible sounds that would get transmitted though the mouthpiece of the handset. Off the signal would go over ordinary telephone wires to the computer that was acting as your Internet service provider. The signal coming back from the Internet would be played into the ear-piece of the phone and the modem would translate that audible signal into a digital signal that the computer could work with.
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When you connect to the Internet, you might connect through a regular modem, through a local-area networkconnection in your office, through a cable modem or through a digital subscriber line (DSL) connection. DSL is a very high-speed connection that uses the same wires as a regular telephone line.
- You can leave your Internet connection open and still use the phone line for voice calls.
- The speed is much higher than a regular modem
- DSL doesn’t necessarily require new wiring; it can use the phone line you already have.
- The company that offers DSL will usually provide the modem as part of the installation.
But there are disadvantages:
- A DSL connection works better when you are closer to the provider’s central office. The farther away you get from the central office, the weaker the signal becomes.
- The connection is faster for receiving data than it is for sending data over the Internet.
- The service is not available everywhere.
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Cable (Coaxial Cable)
When Internet access made the jump from dial-up, cable was the first new medium to be used. The cable used is the same as the cable that you may have for cable TV. One of those round cables, with a solid copper wire core inside of a thick plastic like insulator. Around the insulator there is usually a foil shield with a braided aluminum jacket around that. All of that is inside the outer plastic jacket of the cable.
Through the use of a cable modem you can have a broadband Internet connection that is designed to operate over cable TV lines. Cable Internet works by using TV channel space for data transmission, with certain channels used for downstream transmission, and other channels for upstream transmission. Because the coaxial cableused by cable TV provides much greater bandwidth than telephone lines, a cable modem can be used to achieve extremely fast access. Cable providers typically implement a cap to limit capacity and accommodate more customers. Cable speeds range from 512 Kbps to 20 Mbps.
Internet over Satellite(IoS) allows a user to access the Internet via a satellite that orbits the earth. A satellite is placed at a static point above the earth’s surface, in a fixed position. Because of the enormous distances signals must travel from the earth up to the satellite and back again, IoS is slightly slower than high-speed terrestrial connections over copper or fiber optic cables. Typical Internet over satellite connection speeds (standard IP services) average around 492 up to 512 Kbps.
The orbiting satellite transmits (and receives) its information to a location on Earth called the Network Operations Center orNOC (pronounced “knock”). The NOC itself is connected to the Internet (or private network), so all communication made from a satellite dish to the orbiting satellite will flow through the NOC before it reached the Internet.
This simple diagram above shows how data moves through a satellite network.
Data communication via satellite is not much different than someone using a land based data provider, at least from the standpoint of the Internet user. The key to remember is that once the satellite system is configured by the installer, satellite service acts nearly identically as any other ISPs and may be configured as such.
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