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Connecting via cable modem

Connecting via cable modem - PCSTATS
Abstract: Depending on your modem, you probably spent a few seconds waiting for this particular e-page to appear on your computer screen. Conventional dial-up modems tend to clock about 56Kbps....
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: None Aug 02 2000   J. Prikryl  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > None

Connecting to the Internet via Cable

Depending on the heft of your modem, you probably spent a few seconds waiting for this particular e-page to appear on your computer screen. Conventional dial-up modems tend to clock about 56Kbps -- in other words, they send about 56,000 bits of data through your PC per second. Compare that to the rate of information-exchange that cable modems are able to muster -- 3Mbps, or 3 million bits per second -- and it's easy to see why cable modems are being hooked up in homes around the globe.

There are a few things you'l want to know before you invest in one of these little suckers yourself, though. For one thing, you can't connect unless your local cable company says so. Only cable companies with Cable Modem Termination Systems (CMTS) are able to support cable modems in their vicinity -- a requirement that still disqualifies many homes in North America from cable-modem service. (In 1999, 1.3 million users partook of cable modems; that same year, a whopping 46 million people were connecting via dial-up modems.)

You might think this lack of market penetration translates into high costs for users; but cable modems aren't much pricier than their dial-up counterparts. While you can expect to pay around $20 on a monthly basis for a dial-up connection, you'l spend as little as $30 a month for a cable hook-up. The modems themselves are more expensive, with cable-modems running about $150-$300; while dial-up modems cost about $50.

Cable modems are so speedy, they'l fool you into thinking you've flipping between TV channels; but besides that, what are their advantages? Well, surfing the web no longer means missed telephone calls. Plus, modem cables are always connected, so there's no more waiting for dial-up, twiddling your thumbs while ISP lines are busy, or fussing with log-in procedures. Faster downloading times also mean access to websites that feature video and audio components -- websites whose downloading bulk puts them beyond the range of dial-up modems. This obviously opens up whole new spheres of content on the worldwide web.

As to cable-modem disadvantages -- there are a few. As mentioned, you can't hook up unless your local cable company carries a CMTS. Visit this web page -- http://computingcentral.msn.com/topics/bandwidth/cablemodem.asp -- to see whether your location is cable-modem friendly. Each CMTS provider can support up to 2,000 cable-modem users in its area; and, since all users on one CMTS share the same bandwidth for internet connection, more users result in slower access speeds. The cable companies also like to reserve their own internet service provider (ISP) for their cable-modem customers, so you'l likely forfeit the chance to choose your own ISP if you register for cable-modem use.

The nitty-gritty of cable-modem technology is not difficult to grasp. Once your cable company has intalled a CMTS, it must add a piece of intermediary hardware that carries information between its internet service provider and the CMTS. This is called an internet router -- it essentially allows the cable company to access the internet. When this is accomplished, the cable company sends its internet signals to cable-modems on its network.

At the user-end of the network (i.e., at your house), an existing (or a new) cable connection must be outfitted with a cable splitter. This device tells the coaxial cable whether incoming signals are destined for your television or your computer screen. Cable modems use separate channels to download information from the internet and to send data from your PC onto the web. In most cases, you'l need to purchase some sort of cable television service from the cable company in order to use their modem services.

It's also a good idea to contact your cable company prior to purchasing a brand-new cable-modem, as they tend to place restrictions on what type of modem you use. Of course, hardcore web-surfers will hardly find such limitations off-putting. Cable modems present one of the fastest routes along the information highway; and who would slam on their brakes to avoid such slick velocities?


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