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The Computer Buzz August 2nd, 2007


Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Fact
ory
 

 

Broadband Primer

Our customers often ask us what high speed (broad band) ISP (Internet service provider) we would recommend. In most cases the choice is limited to either the telephone company or the cable company in your area.

Only 8% of Internet users are still on Dial-up and most of these are in rural areas where broadband is available only with relatively expensive satellite or cell phone connections.

We, like most of our customers, have been using broadband for years. Here at the store we have been using DSL for six years. At home we've used both Cox cable and AT&T DSL services.

Of the two cable companies in our area, Time Warner, AKA Roadrunner (previously Adelphia), and COX, both seem to be doing a pretty good job. User satisfaction is higher with Cox. Time Warner is still trying to live down Adelphia's reputation for scandal and poor service.

DSL is provided by whichever phone company services your area, AT&T or Verizon. DSL may be offered by any number of "providers" but they are only leasing the DSL service from the local phone company and reselling it. Using a third party DSL provider only muddies the water when problems arise.

Cable companies offer far more comprehensive service packages than phone companies so it is a little difficult to make direct cost comparisons. Phone companies cannot offer cable TV but cable TV companies offer full local and long distance phone service. In general DSL is cheaper and the service much less complicated.

At this writing, AT&T is offering four packages ranging from $15 to $35 per month depending on speed. No contract is required and a $49 rebate covers the cost of the required DSL modem. DSL allows the simultaneous use of a single phone line for voice and Internet. Dial up user can often eliminate a second phone line when switching from dial-up to DSL.

Broadband ISPs are bundling free security packages with their services to counter virus, spy ware, and other malware intrusions. We've not been able to determine the effectiveness of their efforts to date but at least they are trying to protect their users from unwanted solicitors instead of selling access to them as AOL has done to its customers for so many years.

While cable ISPs can offer higher theoretical top speeds than copper wire DSL, as a practical matter cable users must share bandwidth with everyone on their line while DSL users have a direct link. Cable can slow to a crawl during peak user hours while DSL speed is constant.

If you switch from dial up, move, or need a new ISP for any reason, we recommend starting with the $14.99 DSL package from AT&T. If you feel the need for more speed you can always upgrade. Never use your ISP as an e-mail address because you won't be able to take it with you if you change ISPs. We recommend an Internet based E-mail service like Yahoo or Hot mail.

 

 

 

 


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