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Modems

Connect your business to the world by adding this peripheral to your computer system.

Connect your business to the world by adding this peripheral to your computer system.

Why should you get a modem? In these days of the electronic village and the information superhighway, a more appropriate question may be: Why don't you have one already?

Modems are devices that allow your computer to communicate electronically over phone lines with other computers, networks or the Internet. Modems were originally conceived for remote access to mainframe networks. Users would dial in, and the modem would relay information from the main computer to the remote one. Information was relayed in a simple fashion, via lines of text on an otherwise blank screen.

Today's modems outperform their ancestors, in some cases with speeds up to 50 times faster. With modern software, modems can communicate with fax machines, act as an answering machine (recording messages on your hard drive), and even page you if the computer to which it is connected crashes. In addition, companies with a modem can now allow their clients to dial into their "bulletin board service" (BBS) to place orders, receive news about the company's products, or transfer a file to or from their computers (such as a product/pricing database).

This BBS is a program some companies use to enhance their customer service. But now, with the emergence of the Internet as a business tool, companies have another way of communicating via their modems. With a computer, a modem, and the proper software, companies can post their own pages on the World Wide Web for perusal all around the world. The commercialization of the Internet has forever altered the landscape of how business is done. The Internet is growing like wildfire, due to the proliferation of hardware and software that is expanding its potential. But to take advantage of any of this wonderful stuff, you first need a modem.

Buying a modem can greatly increase the value of your computer to your start-up business. With a modem and the appropriate software, you will have the power to 1) fax to and from your office, with your faxes appearing much cleaner; 2) use voice mail, with separate extensions and "voice-mailboxes" for everyone in your office; and 3) have Internet access for one user or for your entire staff, including global e-mail. If this sounds intimidating, you should know that today's level of software promises easy installation and use.


Freelancer Byron Veale writes about small-business issues from his home office in Belle Mead, New Jersey.

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This article was originally published in the February 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Modems.

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