Internet Connection and Access Methods

Internet Connection and Access Methods
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We can divide the methods into two main types- Fixed and Mobile.

Fixed access is usually much faster and reliable than mobile and is used for connecting homes/offices. The main Access mechanisms are:

  • ADSL over traditional Phone Lines (most common).
  • Cable (limited to cable TV areas)
  • Fibre broadband – Currently being Rolled out

When travelling away from the fixed location mobile access is used. The main access mechanisms are:

Note: Broadband is a generic term and in communications.It refers to a channel with transmission rates above 256kbits/sec but typically (UK) above 4Mbits/s (for ADSL).

DSL/ADSL Broadband over Existing Phone Lines

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)/Broadband comes in two forms:

  • Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), – provides different upload and download speeds (most common)
  • Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL)-  provides the same speed in both directions.

Monthly Cost: Starts at approx. £10-£30  for ADSL per month

Speed: 128Kbps – 20Mbps

Hardware Requirements: ADSL modem  (often included). If you want to connect multiple computers: one ADSL router (approx. £50-£200 if not included)

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Always on connection
  • Can  use a telephone and Internet simultaneously
  • Wide variety of speeds and prices.
  • Large choice of service providers (ISPs)
  • Speed vary widely and are dependent on your distance from your local telephone exchange
  • Some providers have monthly download limits. ( 10GB per month is typical)
  • Requires special termination equipment to be fitted by the Telecom company at both ends of the telephone line.
  • Exposes computer to Internet so you need to install  firewall software. NAT firewall built into hub/router

Suitability

ADSL is suitable for very heavy Internet users and multiple computers (small office or home network). If you regularly download or upload large files like music, video or pictures then this type of connection is the one you need.

See ADSL Broadband Over Existing Phone Lines for more details of how it works and how it is provided in the UK

Wireless Broadband

Wireless broadband is of interest for mobile users. The wireless technology used is the same as is used in home wireless networking and hence if you have laptop/pda is equipped for connection to a home or office wireless network then it will also work on a public wireless network.

Monthly Cost: Often free and provided bundled by
some ADSL broadband packages. See BT-WI-FI

Speed: 1-54 Mbps

Hardware Requirements: Wireless (Wi-FI) equipped laptop/PDA.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Always on connection when connected.
  • Requires you to be in a wireless hotspot. Your ISP will provide a list of sites.
  • Does not support wireless roaming.
  • Large choice of service providers (ISPs)
  • Available only in limited areas usually public areas like airports, train stations etc
  • Speed varies depending on signal quality.
  • Exposes computer to Internet so you need to install firewall software. (Windows XP has a built in firewall). (see Internet computer security)

Suitability

Wireless broadband is suitable for mobile users. It has similar speeds to DSL and so is also suitable for very heavy Internet users and multiple computers (small office or home network).

If you regularly download or upload large files like music, video or pictures then this type of connection is the one you need.

Cable Broadband

Cable connects you to the Internet through a coaxial cable usually using  the same line as your TV service. Cable connections offer very high connection speeds, 1 to 4 Mbps, but the connection may be shared with other users. This means that you can experience much slower speeds  due to congestion.

Monthly Cost: £14-£50 per month

Speed: 500 Kbps to 2 Mbps

Hardware Requirements: Cable Modem (Usually included). If you have multiple computers then you might need cable router to share connection.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Wide availability on cable networks
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Sharing with neighbours poses some unique security risks and congestion problems
  • Router required for more than one computer
  • Primarily for home users

Suitability

For very heavy Internet users and multiple computers (small office or home network). If you regularly download or upload large files like music, video or pictures then this type of connection is the one you need. You obviously need a cable connection in the first place.

Fibre Broadband

This is currently being rolled out in the UK by BT, and offers download speeds of over 38Mbit/s.

You can check the availability in your area on the BT site

Monthly Cost: Starts at approx. £15-£30  per month

Speed: Download speed of 38 -76 Mbps

Hardware Requirements: Comes with broadband router but because of speed this can’t use existing telephone extension cabling so may need to re site your router or have a  data extension line installed See Preparing for install . You also need an Openreach fibre modem and Hub.

Mobile Broadband

In the developing world were no fixed land line system is available mobile broadband is becoming the predominate method that people use to connect to the Internet.

There are more than 500 million mobile broadband subscribers and that number is growing fast.

In western countries like the UK mobile broadband is usually used by people who travel frequently and is often a secondary access mechanism, and not the primary one.

Modern mobile phones in the UK (2012) use the 3G network (3rd generation mobile telecommunications) with speeds of several Mbit/s.

Which although much faster than the earlier 2G networks it is still much slower than typical ADSL Broadband which most home users/businesses use.

There are two main mechanism used. One uses a Internet
capable mobile phone like the iphone the other uses a USB dongle (3G modem) and a laptop/tablet.

Monthly Cost: Varies considerably pay as you options are
available.

Speed: .6 Kbps to 7.2 Mbps

Hardware Requirements: 3G capable Mobile Phone, or USB dongle and package

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Wide availability
  • Can be used when on the move
  • Slow in comparison with ADSL
  • Can be expensive

4G Broadband.

- This is currently in the initial phases of being rolled out in the UK. It uses HSPA+ access mechanism with speeds of up to 168 Mbit/s in the downlink and 22 Mbit/s in the uplink.

Capability is already built into Google Nexus 7 (mobile data model) and the Nexus 4 mobile phone.

Old Methods- Not Really Used Any More

These types of access date back to the early days of the Internet and may no longer be provided by most ISPs.

Dial-Up Analogue Connection -56K

Monthly Cost: Varies from 1p per minute to £13 per month (unlimited access)

Speed: Up to 56Kbps

Hardware Requirements: 56k modem included in most modern PCs (approx.  £25-£50 )

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Inexpensive
  • Wide availability
  • Using a modem ties up a phone line
  • Connection is not “always on”
  • Slowest access method
  • Security danger see rogue Internet diallers
Suitability

Basic Internet browsing and email. Not suitable if regularly downloading or uploading large files like music, video or pictures.

With the rapid adoption of ADSL dial up access is often only used as a secondary/ backup Internet access method for mobile users.

You should be vary wary of this connection type due to Rogue Internet Dialler software.

ISDN

This was the main method for high speed Internet access prior to ADSL and is now no longer used.

It is similar to dial-up, ISDN establishes a connection to your service provider when you access the Internet. However, ISDN circuits are 64-128K and fully digital.

ISDN is not easy to install and troubleshoot and requires you to have an ISDN box installed by your telephone company.

It was  used by small businesses as in addition to the ISDN
line you can also use a normal telephone line at the same time . This means you can access the Internet as well as talking on the telephone.

Monthly Cost: As Analogue dial up

Speed: 64Kbps – 128Kbps

Hardware Requirements: ISDN card (£30-£60) or router ( £200-£300)

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Lets you talk and surf simultaneously.
  • Faster than 56kbps analogue
  • Suitable for attaching more than 1 PC to the Internet ( 2-6 light users)
  • difficult to setup
  • Available only in limited areas
  • Requires special termination equipment to be fitted by the telecom company at both ends of the telephone line
  • Outdated being replaced by DSL
  • Not practical for more than 6 computers (depending on usage)
  • Security danger see rogue Internet diallers
Suitability

Basic Internet browsing and email and connection sharing. Not suitable if regularly downloading or uploading very large files like music, video or pictures.

You should be vary wary of this connection type due to Rogue Internet Dialler software.

 

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