I hate dial-up service. Yes, I said hate. Nothing irritates me more than hearing that telephone line pinging sound when I try to log onto the Internet. I hate two-hour downloads. I hate getting booted off. You get the point. Are we or are we not trying to run a business here? As popular as the Web has become, wouldn't it be nice to have the convenience of performing Web-related stuff quickly? Ask yourself. How prepared is your business for the future of the Internet? Well, this column would have no point if I were unable to supply an answer to these questions. So here we go.

Lightning Fast Internet Access

Go broadband! Go broadband! Go broadband! OK, I'll stop yelling. High-speed business Internet connections, especially the cable modem and DSL technologies lumped together under the "broadband" heading, are increasing in number at an astonishing rate. Why? Because it's fast and inexpensive. Compared to a slightly faster T1 or T3 line (typically found in the big-business arena), broadband access will cost you on average about $100 less per month, making broadband a clear no-brainer.

The biggest problem that providers face seems to be keeping up with the demand. I've heard of some providers who aren't going to be caught up on cable access orders in their area until 2005. Some areas still don't even have it available. Then there's the speed. Broadband technology offers speeds far greater than dial-up phone modems. For example, a file that takes 10 minutes to download over a 28.8 phone modem would take five minutes on a 56K modem, compared to about two seconds on a broadband service. Actual speed experienced is dependent on several factors, including:

  • Accessing non-cached or cached data;
  • Performance characteristics of each component of the data network;
  • File size;
  • The number of users and overall network traffic;
  • Upstream data transfer speed is limited to 128Kbps; and
  • Your computer performance and configuration.

System Requirements

Typical system requirements for such an adventure are as follows:

Windows 95/98 - Pentium 133 or higher with 32MB of RAM, 150MB of free hard drive space and CD-ROM.

Windows NT 4.0 - Pentium 133 or higher with 64MB of RAM, 150MB of free hard drive space and CD-ROM.

Windows 2000 - Pentium 133 or higher with 64MB of RAM, 150MB of free hard drive space and CD-ROM.

Macintosh Systems - Power PC 601 or higher with 32MB of RAM, 56MB of free hard drive space, Mac OS 8.5 or higher and CD-ROM.

A typical monthly service charge in most markets is around $39.95 per month. This price typically includes leasing your cable modem. If you have purchased a cable modem, the monthly service cost will probably be around $29.95. Most providers will help you get all the hardware you need to get up and running. In many areas, this includes a cable modem and equipment to connect it to your computer. In other areas, you may be able to purchase your own cable modem.

Broadband Benefits

Broadband is always on. You're always connected. No more dial-up via a telephone line. No more busy signals. But with convenience comes security. Since you're connected all the time, your business will probably need to set up a personal or corporate firewall to protect "certain individuals" from gaining access to your private networks. Convene with your provider for suggestions and recommendations or stop by your company's IT department for what will surely become a lengthy discussion.

The nice thing about broadband is that it's very scalable. Most providers (AT&T, RCN, Lucent) have packages available that will meet your business needs today and tomorrow. In closing, I would highly recommend that you help take the necessary actions to get your company off your dial-up lines (if you haven't already), and into a high-speed, connection-based service. Your workload efficiency will improve, proactive business time will increase, and you won't have to keep smacking the side of your monitor screaming, "COME ON!" With broadband business connections, you are certainly preparing yourself for the future. For more information visit any of the following: www.att.com, www.lucent.com, www.rcn.com, or contact your local Internet service provider. ES