In today’s world the bounds of information technology are being pushed further and further every day. With Local Area Networks spanning into WorldWide Area Networks and globalization happening to every small business with a connection to the Internet the need for alternatives is growing. Technology and hardware are increasing faster than people with the skills to support them are. With this the ways to connect and expand into the Internet are improving as well as the speed of connections. There are many ways to gain access onto today’s Internet and discussed here are going to be three common ways such as the modem, the cable modem and Microsoft’s WebTV. These three describe represent the novice, the intermediate, and the advanced.
One of the most common ways to connect to the Internet is the modem or the dial-up adapter. It is the most prevalent of the three and was one of the first pieces of hardware used to connect to the Internet. The modem is very similar to a telephone in which the computer when instructed will dial up a telephone number given to you by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and establish a connection between you and your provider allowing you access to the Internet. The modem has made some advances from it’s initial stages and had managed to increase it’s downloading speeds, commonly used when browsing and it’s uploading speeds used more often when sending Email.
Currently the modem is reaching it’s pinnacle as speeds are reached at around 56 Kilobytes per second which is for download only and the uploads are at a more modest 28.8K or 33.6K. Unfortunately top speeds in the United States will be initially limited to 53K because of FCC regulations. The FCC does not actually limit modem speeds rather it limits the amount of power that can be sent through the phone line. In order to prevent interference with other electrical devices the FCC places limitations not on the modem but on the server equipment at the online service or ISP your dialing into. It’s possible that the FCC may grant a waiver in the future that would allow speeds of 56K or higher in the United States.
The modem aside from disadvantages mentioned above also has more competition than it had in the past, with more and more people entering the world wide web there are more web sites available that contain heavy graphics and a lot of detail. As web sites become more complex the greater the amount of information that needs to be sent to the user becomes. Visiting a web site that’s rich in graphics on a 56K modem at the best can still take quite a bit of time. So the need for greater speed and ways to gain access at a quicker rate is becoming more and more apparent everyday. These minor disadvantages are a nuisance, but they won’t prevent most people from using the technology besides not everyone needs or wants to be connected to the internet at rates faster than what a modem can handle.
There are advantages to using the modem, one of these I name the cardboard box. Any personal computer package purchased today unless otherwise specified comes with a modem this is mainly due to inexpensive prices and the demand for access. The modem is also great because it covers all users from the novice to the advanced and can meet almost all of their needs. With it’s ease of use and high demand the modem even with faster and better technology out there will still be a factor in today’s market.
Another piece of technology that’s quickly growing is the cable modem an alternative to the slower 56K modem which is using the coaxial cable used for you cable instead of your telephone line. The cable modem is a little bit more complexes compared to that of the standard modem and requires additional hardware as well. The term modem is a little misleading considering that it actually does more than just receive cable signals. Cable modems also incorporate a tuner (to separate the data signal from the rest of the broadcast stream); parts from network adapters, bridges, and routers (to connect to multiple computers); network-management software agents (so the cable company can control and monitor its operations); and encryption devices (so your data isn’t intercepted or sent someplace else by mistake). (Internet Access, FAQ’s)
The cable modem also requires additional hardware, not only do you need to lease or buy the cable modem but also purchase a NIC or network interface card. Each cable modem has a port that connects to the computer on one side and to the cable connection on the other. You would use your standard Ethernet cable or Category 5 cable and connect the two via the Ethernet ports found on both the modem and the NIC. As far as your PC is concerned, it’s hooked directly to the Internet via an Ethernet cable. There are no phone numbers to dial and no limitations on serial-port throughput (as is the case with ISDN modems). What you do get is lots of speed: Download varies from 500 Kbps to 30 Mbps, while uploads can, potentially, range from 96 Kbps to 10 Mbps. (Cable Datacom News, Cable FAQ’s)
The real fascinating part about cable modems is that they can coexist with your television, that you can watch television and be on the Internet at the same time. This would be the equivalent to talking on the telephone and dialing up to your ISP at the same time something that cannot occur on the same line. In each community, cable operators install a head end that receives both satellite and broadcast TV signals. Coaxial cable carries these signals to each subscriber’s home. Depending on the number of homes and the distance between them, the operator may need to install amplifiers and filters to maintain signal strength. Typical cable systems serve between 500 to 2,500 homes on one line. Because the cable is broadband, it carries multiple signals, or channels. Most of these channels are devoted to TV programs, although many cable operators also carry radio stations. A TV channel occupies 6 MHz of the spectrum, and sometimes cable operators multiplex several channels into one. If the cable system were used strictly for data, it could deliver gigabytes of that data per second over hundreds of individual networks.
But TV signals consume most of the potential bandwidth. And most cable systems send these signals in one direction only: from the head end to your home. Internet access, obviously, is two-way: Every mouse click, every command and keystroke must travel back upstream. (Cable Datacom News, Cable FAQ’s) To become this two-way street cable operators must allocate spectrum on the cable for upstream signals so you can send data from the PC back to the Internet. Typically, the upstream signal is transmitted on a low-frequency band that hasn’t previously carried a TV channel so that the two don’t interfere. Mainly though because these low frequencies are noisy: Ham and CB radio, household appliances, lights, and other devices generate interference, which must be filtered somewhere between the head end and the cable recipient. Interference caused by sending upstream data won’t really affect your household appliances.
Another problem is that as the amount of end users on your node increases the slower your connection may become. If the Cable Company continues to add more end users they’ll need to add more amplifiers and routers to separate the signals. This is all assuming you have access, the major problem with cable modems is location. If you find yourself in an area that doesn’t support Internet Access through cable there is nothing you can do about it short of moving. It’s very costly for a cable company to install Internet Access through a cable modem and even though the idea is catching on I’d be patient if you find yourself in an area without it.
Another small drawback is the price, typically the average monthly cost can range from between 40 dollars and 60 dollars with a 100-dollar installation fee. Add to that the cost of purchasing your NIC which is another 40 dollars and your can see how the cable modem is exceeding the price of your common 56K modem. In my opinion it’s worth while investment for the intermediate to advanced user. If you were to install the cable modem and connect it to a small network you can have multiple users on one Internet connection with no significant speed loss. In the long run you’ll see how the cable modem is superior to that of the dial up adapter.
Both of the two previous methods to connect to the Internet involve one key element and that was the computer. Fortunately Microsoft along with other manufactures such as Sony created a system that applies for the novice. WebTV which is designed to work without the computer had it’s own method of connecting. You still use your telephone line to connect to the Internet and you will still need to contact your local ISP for service. To purchase the box that connects to your TV prices will range from around 100 dollars to 200 dollars plus your 25-dollar monthly charge from your ISP. There is also the additional 60-dollar charge if you wanted the optional keyboard.
The advantages of owning WebTV are that there’s no need to purchase a computer if you wanted to gain access to the Internet. Unfortunately the disadvantages of WebTV far exceed the advantages, given the design constraints WebTV achieves a high degree of usability and friendliness. But the constraints are so severe that even this great design ultimately fails to provide an optimal Web user experience.
Some of the constraints involved are navigation, screen size, and some of the options offered by WebTV. Since there’s no computer there is no mouse, so in order for the user to navigate through the screen the user must go through a series of clicks and arrow keys. It would be the equivalent of using your computer without a mouse except now everything is contained on one remote control and your monitor is your television set. Another problem is the screen size, WebTV has a small screen size that shows a limited amount of information compared with a traditional computer screen. This is particularly true given the need for WebTV to use large fonts because of the poor display quality of televisions and the distance between the TV set and the user’s couch. There are three main problems stemming from WebTV’s small screen size:
? Excessive scrolling is needed to move about the page, meaning the user will often not see the entire page because of the extra effort.
? Users often get lost within a single page: there is no way of knowing how far one has scrolled down the page or what other information is on the page.
? Once the user had scrolled down the page, it is a lot of work to get back to the top of the page. (WebTV Usability Review, J. Nielson)
Finally, after WebTV offers you this package they don’t offer you the keyboard unless you’re willing to pay an additional 60 dollars. The remote had capabilities to type but unless you’re willing to scroll through the alphabet picking each individual letter as you go along then the keyboard is a must. WebTV is for the very novice user without a computer and in the long run is probably not going to meet your expectations for the Internet.
In conclusion the three methods to connect to the Internet such as WebTV, the modem and the cable modem represent in general the three common users the novice, the intermediate and the advanced. These aren’t the only ways to connect to the Internet but these are three of the most widely seen for individuals. The most important thing to remember when choosing which method you want for access is to think about what your needs are. What is your purpose and interest in the Internet? How much time do you plan on spending there? The three methods I discussed above show what kind of user you may be, if you’re not very familiar with the Internet or a computer maybe WebTV is the right choice. On the other end if you plan on surfing the web for hours at a time or plan to host a web server maybe the cable modem is a better choice. It really comes down to preferences and what you the user really wants.
Sorry none really most of it came from my head I suggest pulling stuff off the internet and making up a bibliography