Consider This…Your Internet Connection
It seems like yesterday that we discovered the internet, although it was probably more like 15 years ago. As in most households, the internet first appeared in the rooms occupied by our two teenage sons. And, just like our sons at the time, the service was relatively unsophisticated. Although there were vast numbers of special interest user groups that you could communicate with, bulletin boards to subscribe to, gaming activity sites and of course the ever present and persistent adult entertainment sites, the real purpose of the internet was in its infancy. According to web historians who have followed the internet growth more closely, like Robert H. Zakon, the web site growth rate is unparalleled and now covers every facet of our personal and work lives.
Jakob Nielsen reported on www.useit.com/alertbox/internet_growth.html “that some time in 2005, we quietly passed a dramatic milestone in Internet history: the one-billionth user went online. Because we have no central register of Internet users, we don’t know who that user was, or when he or she first logged on. Statistically, we’re likely talking about a 24-year-old woman in Shanghai.
“According to Morgan Stanley estimates, 36% of Internet users are now in Asia and 24% are in Europe. Only 23% of users are in North America, where it all started in 1969 when two computers— one in Los Angeles, the other in Palo Alto—were networked together.
“It took 36 years for the Internet to get its first billion users. The second billion will probably be added by 2015; most of these new users will be in Asia. The third billion will be harder, and might not be reached until 2040.
“In 2002, NUA estimated that we had 605 million Internet users. Since then, Internet use has grown by 18% per year—certainly not as fast as the 1990s, but still respectable.
“Overall, the Internet’s growth has been truly remarkable. Ten years ago, the ‘net was mostly used by geeks; now it’s the default way to do business in many countries.”
Along with this phenomenal growth rate has come cyber crime. I reported in an earlier issue that Anne Arundel Community College had expanded their curriculum to include a degreed program in cyber forensic study. Wired magazine reported in their July 2006 issue that of the $183 million in internet fraud reported to the FBI in 2005, nearly three quarters was perpetrated from somewhere in the USA.
All of the usage and content growth has created a greater need for speed, capacity and security. Internet service providers (ISP), like AOL, MSN, Earth Link and Net Zero have been working diligently to upgrade their respective services and to differentiate themselves. Communication giants like Verizon and AT&T are creating better and more stable communications lines, while companies like Microsoft, Netscape and Linux continue to build and improve the created interface components.
In the end we need communication speed, processing power and security. There are two immediate alternatives available to most Annapolitans. The first is ADSL,which stands for Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line, or just Digital Subscriber Line, as Americans call it. ADSL is a high-speed broadband internet service, which can be installed to work in your existing phone line, once it has been converted to digital. ADSL uses much higher frequencies than conventional dial up services, enabling you to use the service whilst on the phone and up to 100 times faster than traditional dial up ISPs. The other is a cable modem, which allows a single computer (or network of computers) to connect to the Internet via the cable TV network. The cable modem usually has an Ethernet LAN (Local Area Network) connection to the computer, and is capable of speeds in excess of 5 Mbps.
In operational speak, these two high-speed options deliver similar or equivalent connections to your home although business applications may have criteria that make one service more preferable over the other. I have Comcast cable at my home and Verizon DSL at the office and found my the two high speed services that I use to be quite similar in all operational phases. It is interesting to note that in a survey of residential computer users by the GAO in 2001, that only 12% indicated that they would upgrade to high-speed internet connections if it were available to them. Most users were content to use the dial-up connection, which connects at speeds up to 56k. With content transmissions of 1 to 50 megabits, the old dial-up fails to deliver. We are talking download times of seconds or minutes versus minutes and hours.
Most services range from $15 to $50 monthly and most without a long-term commitment. Pricing, availability and need in that order seem to be the dominating components when it comes to making the decision.