Bits & P.C.s: Low-speed high speed

By now I’m sure that you have seen the television ads for the new “high-speed” Internet services being offered by Earthlink, AOL, Juno and NetZero. For only $14.95 per month, you will be able to surf the Web up to five times faster and as an alternative to cable or DSL.

Being a curious person, I decided to mosey on over to the NetZero Web site to find out the details of the greatest invention since sliced bread. The following is a direct quote from the site:

“NetZero HiSpeed accelerates certain Web page text and graphics when compared to standard dial-up Internet service. Actual results may vary. Some Web pages, such as secure or encrypted Web pages, will not be accelerated. NetZero HiSpeed is not a broadband service and actual data transmission rates are not faster than standard dial-up Internet service. Transmission of files including, without limitation, streaming audio or video, digital photographs, MP3 or other music files, executable files and other downloads, is not faster using NetZero HiSpeed than with standard dial-up service. NetZero HiSpeed may not be compatible with proxy-based software or services such as content filters or firewalls. NetZero HiSpeed is only compatible with Platinum service and specified browsers. Available only for Windows.”

What they are saying is that if a Web page is designed in a certain way, it may appear faster on your screen. It will not allow your bank Web site to operate any faster as well as other sites that you have to sign into—these are known as secure sites.

They also state that it will not allow you to transfer files, including pictures or music, any faster than you are doing now. It will not speed up streaming audio or video, so if you are trying to listen to a radio station over the Internet, it will not eliminate the starting and stopping that you are currently experiencing.

It also may not work with programs such as Net Nanny or firewall programs. And, since it only works with Windows and certain Web browsers, it eliminates the Mac and Linux users out there.

The most interesting thing is that they freely admit, “actual data transmission rates are not faster than standard dial-up Internet service.” In other words, it’s not really any faster at doing the things that you have the Internet for, such as e-mail or online bill paying. They are charging you to accelerate a few Web pages.

If you are currently paying $20 or more per month for Internet access, you should analyze your needs. Wal-Mart offers unlimited dial-up Internet access for about $10 per month. NetZero and Juno also offer $10 access, but they may have a limit on the number of hours you can be online per month.

If you use the Internet a lot, then you may want to check with SBC to see whether DSL service is available in your area. Their current charge is $27 monthly and does not tie up your phone line. And it is high speed!

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times, e-mail, or call 243-1162.

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