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Talking Heads

FAQ

Q: What's all this I'm hearing about new options for getting high-speed, corporate-quality Internet access from my home?

A: It's true: Nifty new ways of getting onto the Web are hitting the market, offering blazing connection speeds that leave current PC modems--and even ISDN service--in the dust. Keep an eye out for ADSL and cable modems, and hang on to your hat--Web sites will zip onto your screen faster than you ever thought possible.

ADSL stands for asymmetric digital subscriber line, which allows phone companies to send torrents of data down the copper wires already connecting their offices to your home. Although those wires were originally designed to handle only phone calls, PC modems transfer more and more information on those same lines--most recently, 56,000 bits of digital data per second. But at this speed, standard modems have reached their theoretical speed limit.

With ADSL, however, you can cram as much as 1.5 million bps down those same wires. The only problem is that besides installing a special ADSL modem in your home, your phone company also has to install costly equipment at its end. Thus, ADSL service is coming online slowly. US West's MegaBit and Bell Atlantic's InfoSpeed are being tested in selected cities, but experts believe that by early 1999, we'll see a nationwide rush for ADSL service.

Today, subscribers pay around $500 for installation (including the ADSL modem and a setup fee), and then $20 to $120 per month to surf the Web at speeds that range from 256,000 bps to 1.5 million bps. Eventually, ADSL promises to also provide the ability to watch a long list of movies--so-called video on
demand, which means no more video rentals.

Cable modems, meanwhile, connect your PC to the Net via standard cable TV wires, at speeds of up to 1.5 million bps. Again, service is not yet universally available, but it's much more widespread than ADSL. (See "Net Work" on page 28 for more information on cable modems.) Besides fast Internet access, you'll receive specialized digital services, too, like CD-quality music and multimedia programming. When it comes to bandwidth, it seems too much is never enough.

Contact Sources

Cellhire USA Inc., (888) GSM-RENT, http://www.cellhire.com

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