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Moving into the fast lane

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 28, 2000

Full speed ahead
Speed is king when it comes to surfing the Internet. The faster, the better. But it gets complicated as soon as people try to determine the best choice for such high-speed access.

A long road to high-speed access
It seems a fair question to ask any business: Can I buy what you're selling?

Here are some things to check before deciding on high-speed Internet access:

Availability: Is it available in your neighborhood? Not all cable TV companies have upgraded their equipment to offer the service. And DSL phone service works only within a certain distancefrom a phone company's central office.

Choosing an Internet service provider: Consumers have to use the cable company's ISP. DSL gives consumers more choices, though most companies will try to sell both the connection and ISP service together.

Backup: Problems with outages, particularly for DSL, have been reported around the country. For those who can't afford to be offline, keeping the trusty 56K modem and a dial-up account is probably a good idea.






The 56K modem, the standard device for dial-up phone connections, has been around since 1997, almost an eternity for a computer part. But more people still use such connections because they are available everywhere and are cheaper than high-speed services. Here's a comparison of speed and costs for home users:

Service Monthly cost Maximum speed*
Phone Free to $21.95 56 Kbps
Cable modem $40 to $50 1,500 Kbps to 3,000 Kbps
(1.5 Mbps to 3 Mbps)**
Basic DSL $40*** 768 Kbps
Satellite $40 to $60 400Kbps

* Data transfer speeds are measured by Kbps (thousands of bits per second) or Mbps (millions of bits per second).

** Cable speeds can vary depending on traffic.

*** This is latest price for Verizon's basic DSL service. Higher speeds cost more.

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