High-speed Internet revisited

High-speed Internet revisited

By Richard Heller

High-speed Internet revisited

It has been a while since we discussed high-speed Internet in the Rockford area. Let’s take a look at what is available today.

Currently, ADSL service is available from Ameritech in selected areas of the city. In order to use this service, you have to live within four miles of the telephone switching office, and the telephone lines have to be of high quality. Some of the older sections of the city have telephone wires that were installed in the 1920s and ’30s and have to be upgraded before ADSL can be offered. Also, the phone company has electronic ways of increasing the number of calls that a single line can carry; this method is not compatible with the ADSL signal.

The phone companies have been dragging their feet on updating their equipment because the government is going to require them to offer the use of their lines and equipment to other companies. They want to control the access to their equipment, and thus, control the pricing of the services that they offer. Cost is $50-75 per month.

The second option for high-speed Internet is a satellite dish. The one-way (download) system is selling for about $200 and can be self-installed. It requires a phone line connection to communicate with the satellite. The two-way (download-upload) dish will cost you about $1000 including the dish and professional installation. The cost is about $75 per month

The third form of high-speed access is through the Excite@Home service offered by Insight Communications. The service is available in most areas of the city where cable TV is installed. The cost is about $50 per month.

Unfortunately, Insight will not install the service in your business. When I contacted Insight, I was told that they had been talking to the @Home people for months trying to find a way to offer the service to businesses, but had not been able to come to an agreement.

The strange thing about this is that if you have the @Home service in your residence, you can connect up to five computers to the cable modem for an additional fee each month. If you were the only employee of a business working in an office building, you could not get the service, even if you were only going to connect one computer.

Unfortunately, the future does not look bright for the @Home service. According to the AP, they recently updated their annual report to the SEC expressing “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”. Their stock shares were down to 47 cents, and they lost over $7 billion in 2000 and $346 million in the recent quarter. AT&T owns 23 percent of the company but has 74 percent of the voting power.

In June they sold $100 million worth of notes in order to avert a major cash crisis with the agreement that their stock would be listed on a major stock exchange. The price of their stock is below the minimum value that NASDAQ requires to be listed.

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 or e-mail technorh@mindspring.com.

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