All About Home Internet Access

The Internet is here to stay, and more and more people join the online revolution every day.  At the end of last year, 1,574,313,184 people (about 23.5 percent of the worldwide population) were surfing the Web, according to Internet World Stats, a firm that conducts Web market research and reports global Internet usage and related statistics. Today’s Internet audience includes people of all ages, from all different types of backgrounds, who rely on the Web for everything from research to shopping.

A decade ago, there was only one way to get home Internet access – dial-up service. Users had to install a modem, a device that encodes digital information for transmission over communication lines, and connect their computer to a phone line. This approach is convenient because most new computers (or those that are less than 10 years old), already include a modem, and the majority of homes already have at least one standard phone line. So, no new communication lines need to be installed. However, a home with only one phone line will not be able to make phone calls and surf the Web at the same time.

Dial-up has declined sharply in popularity (studies show that less than 30 percent of all Internet activity is performed via dial-up access) because it can be quite slow. Websites with lots of images and graphics may take a long time to load, and large files will be difficult to download. Additionally, many Internet service providers now charge a penalty for those accessing the Web via dial-up. For example, those with broadband connections can use AOL for free, but those with dial-up connectivity must pay a monthly fee for service.

Nowadays, although modems are still required for Web access, there are other options to connect to the Internet, which include cable, satellite, wireless, and DSL.  This type of high-speed connectivity, known as broadband, offers more power and speed. Sites can be accessed more rapidly, images and videos will process more efficiently, and large files can be instantly uploaded or downloaded.

But, in order to access the Web in this way, users will need additional communication lines. For example, cable service providers will need to install an additional line to connect to the computer, or the phone company will need to add a DSL line. Wireless access will require additional routers. And, while Internet services like AOL might be free, the companies that provide the broadband services will charge fees on either a monthly or usage basis.

No matter which method you choose, surfing the Web is becoming more affordable, and for many people, a necessity for social and business connections.  Broadband services cost, on average, about $39 per month, according to Pew Internet Research. If you already have a phone line, dial-up access won’t cost extra – you’ll pay only for a local phone call each time you connect to the Web.  But, your Internet service provider will probably charge you a monthly fee of around $20.

How hard it is to get connected?  Not hard at all.  If you’ve purchased a computer in the last ten years, chances are you’ve already got the hardware you need. If you want to use dial-up, then your current phone service will suffice. Simply plug a phone line into the appropriate port in the back of your computer, open an account with an Internet service provider, and you’re ready to surf.

If you’d rather go the broadband route, then you’ll need to contact your phone company or cable service provider to inquire about their technologies and service packages.  Once you’ve made a selection, a technician will visit your home to install the needed cables and get them hooked up to your computer.

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