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Choices for Internet Access

Computer and Internet Services

There are more choices now for Internet Access than ever before

Fiber Optic is the current “bleeding edge” technology that is also being deployed as a mainstream solution. There are other, more advanced, technologies but they are still in testing or in very limited deployment scenarios. With fiber optic, you have a thin glass cable, wrapped in protective material being routed along the same cable pathways as pre-existing phone, electric and cable lines. This glass cable is used to transfer articulated light beams from point to point. The technology allows for very dense data flow and very high speed transfer of data.

The amount of bandwidth available also allows for the bundling of multiple service types. This includes typical internet data, telephone, cable media, closed circuit video and audio as well as future data types such as 3D, HD and real time video phone.

However, there are some downsides in that fiber is still a somewhat new technology from the infrastructure deployment standpoint. It also still suffers from some limited availability in all markets and because of the nature of the technology, it is still slightly more expensive to deploy and establish reliable network grids.

Cable technology is perhaps the most commonly deployed solution for internet access and currently has the most potential for reliability. It can also handle bundled services such as telephone service and has some capability for expansion but not at the same level as fiber optic.

Cable too has some limitations in that it is slightly more prone to electrical interference. In addition, the networks and infrastructure for cable are beginning to age and do not have the same level of expandability as fiber optic.

xDSL is a place holder name for an entire family of similar services based on the technology called Digital Subscriber Line. The technology is very stable, has a very deep knowledge base in the technical services fields and is one of the easiest internet access methodologies to be deployed. The service speeds are adequate for most home users and even some small to medium sized businesses. In fact, a number of larger business use some form of DSL as a backup connection in branch or satellite offices.

But of course, the downside is that this technology is based on a very old infrastructure and perhaps its biggest drawback stems from the limitations of this infrastructure. All forms of DSL have hard limits on the distance that the signal can travel. In all cases, the further from the central switch an end user node is located, the greater the degradation of service provided. Also, because of the age of the infrastructure and the advent of newer, better technologies, there are some markets that are still not serviced by any flavor of DSL and the providers in these markets have no intention of upgrading their older switches to support the limited demand.

These represent the most popular services available, but there are others in the form of Wireless, Satellite, ISDN, and MODEM. Of these four, Wireless and Satellite are the better options while ISDN and MODEM are ever decreasing in market share.

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