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Types of Internet Access Technologies


Accessing the Internet and Connecting Your Network to It
Various technologies are available to both access the Internet and connect your network to the Internet. Each technology or service has its advantages and limitations. Choosing one over the other should be carefully considered.

Cable
Cable can be used to access and connect to the Internet. It is used for high-speed Internet access. It is "always on", and is generally for home usage rather than for business purposes. A cable Internet connection is much faster than any type of dial-up connection. However, at this current time, using cable for business applications is not as advantageous as using some of the other technologies. You cannot connect a network to the Internet with cable.

Due to the current inherent limitations of cable technology, it is not usually a viable solution for businesses. These limitations include the wiring ( most businesses are not wired), congestion and delay ( the more people using cable, the slower the service), "shared" connectivity, security (your neighbors may be able to access your files), and cable's inability to support any type of web or email server.

Modem
A 56 Kbps modem is a good starting point for Internet access and lower end applications, especially those businesses on a modest budget. This technology is a dial-up service. Each user needs his own modem and phone line to dial-up and be connected to the Internet. You must have a jack with a phone line located near the computer. Remember that the modem ties up the phone line so you won't be able to use the phone and computer at the same time. If you want to use multiple devices simultaneously, you should consider choosing another technology/service.

Modem technology can be costly if you add many users. The cost of many phone lines and modems may be prohibitive. One way to solve this is to install a modem on a server computer and use software that enables your users to access the modem as a shared device. NetWare, Windows NT Server, and Windows 95/98 cannot accomplish this, so you have to purchase additional modem-sharing software to enable the server to share its network with the network. If you decide to set up your network this way, the downside is that only one network can access the Internet at the same time. Also, performance is never on the high-end due to the limitations of this set-up. Another way to share modems on the network is to set up a separate computer to function as a communications server. You can then install one or more modems in the communications server computer so that your network users can access the modems. Special software will be required. The best way to share modems is to install a special-purpose device that connects your network to the Internet via modems. These devices are readily available on the market.

PRI ISDN
You can use Primary Rate Integrated Services Digital Network (PRI ISDN) to both access the Internet and connect your network to the Internet. It is a dial-up service and does not require a modem. It's quite a bit faster than modem service. PRI ISDN has 23 B channels plus one 64 Kbps D channel. Each channel has a 64Kbps capacity, enabling a total transmission speed of up to 1.536Mbps. Additionally, since you can split the line into separate channels, multiple users can talk on the phone and use the computer at the same time. Each user can work at a speed of 64 Kbps.

DSL
DSL is an excellent Internet access solution for SMBs. It is an affordable and easy-to-install way to access the Internet and connect your network to it. This high-speed "always on" service lets you access the Internet over ordinary phone lines at speeds up to 8 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads(i.e., (Asymmetric DSL).

A DSL modem and an Ethernet card are required for installation. A splitter may also be required. A splitter is a frequency filter that separates the high frequencies used for sending data upstream and receiving downstream data from the low frequency range used for voice. These high and low frequencies are transmitted at the same time.

T-1
T-1 is a leased Internet access service and network-connect technology best suited for large networks where 20 or more users are accessing the Internet at the same time. T-1 is about 10 times as fast as ISDN and has speeds up to about 1.54 Mbps. As many as 24 users can use the service simultaneously with each using 64 Kbps. It is an "always on" service.

T-1 can be used to connect a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) to the telephone company's central office (CO). T-1 is frequently used to connect remote LANs.

Fractional T-1
If T-1 is a good solution for your business, and you don't have 20 or more users, you can lease a portion of a T-1 line. This will keep your expenses down and still give you a premium service for accessing the Internet and connecting your network to it.

T-3
T-3 is a high-end leased service used by many medium-to-large sized organizations for accessing the Internet and connecting a network to it. A T-3 line can transmit data at up to 44 Mbps. That's extremely fast! It's the equivalent of 28 T-1 lines. As many as 672 users can use the service simultaneously while working at 64 Kbps. T-3 is an excellent solution for businesses with large calling volumes (i.e., calling centers). It is an "always on " service.

T-3 can be used to connect a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) to the telephone company's central office (CO). T-3 is also used to link remote LANs.

Fractional T-3
If T-3 is a good solution for your business, and you don't need the full T-3 line, you can lease a portion of it. This will keep your expenses down, allow you to have many users, and still give you a premium service for accessing the Internet and connecting your network to it.

Frame Relay
Frame Relay is used for large-scale applications requiring accessing the Internet and interconnecting LANs. It is also used to connect LANs to WANs. Frame Relay's data rates range from 56 Kbps to 45 Mbps, giving you a wide range of flexible options to choose from for your unique business needs. It is an "always on" service.

If your LAN Internet usage varies significantly throughout the day, and has bursty data, Frame Relay may be the best solution for you. With Frame Relay Internet access, you can maximize your Internet connectivity at key times throughout the day by "bursting" up to the full limit of the transport you choose. A burst is a specific amount of data sent or received in one intermittent operation. Bursty data uses bandwidth only sporadically. It is sent intermittently and does not use the total bandwidth of a circuit 100 percent of the time.

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