Interest in the Internet has reached a fever pitch. Growing numbers of individuals and companies are posting Web pages. And these pages are increasingly sophisticated: Instead of just text, they're likely to contain multimedia and video elements, and even connections to a company database.
But all the bits and bytes required to transmit this information can really bog down computer performance. To improve performance with these new applications, you need a bigger pipeline to shuffle bits and bytes between your computer and the Web. In other words, you may need a faster modem--if not now, then most probably within the next year or two. (Of course, some performance problems are due to excessive traffic on the Web. If you can't get on at all; or if you access a Web site, see that there's a text-only version of the page, call that up, and still experience poor performance, there may just be a lot of Web traffic.)
How can you speed up access? You have several options, depending on your time frame. New modems that were in development at press time, and should be on shelves by the time you read this, promise to transmit at speeds of up to 56.6 Kbps (kilobytes per second), up from the current 33.6 Kbps standard. Another option is upgrading to ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) technology, which offers data transfer speeds of 128 Kbps. (ISDN service is not available in all areas, however, and is more expensive and more complicated to use than non-ISDN modems.)
Within the next few years, you'll have the option of switching to newer, even faster technologies that are on the horizon. Cable modems, which are being BODYed nationwide, run over cable TV lines and will be able to receive data at speeds of up to 6 Mbps (megabytes per second) and upload data at speeds of 640 Kbps. Eventually, these modems will be able to receive data at speeds of 10 Mbps. Another upcoming technology, ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line), will have speeds similar to the cable modem.