If you’re still using dialup Internet access for use from home, you should start thinking about "broadband".
What’s broadband? That’s the term for getting your Internet access via a cable or DSL connection, or even a fiber-optic connection, if that’s available to you.
During the roll-out stage of cable and DSL Internet access, there weren’t too many choices. If only one was available in your neighborhood, that’s the one you could get.
For some of us, that’s still the case. Although I live in a relatively large city (Baton Rouge), my area of Baton Rouge does not have DSL access available. The phone company’s equipment servicing my subdivision is not compatible with DSL. Unfortunately, just a few years before the DSL rollout started, the latest-and-greatest phone switching equipment was released — and it turned out to be incompatible with DSL.
In today’s broadband world, most cable and most DSL providers have 2 to 4 service options. Basically, they’ve got a cheap option that is a lot faster that dialup, but still throttled significantly.
Then, a couple higher-priced options with higher downstream and upstream speeds, and then the highest priced option. They also vary the additional features, such as the number of email addresses and the size of the mailboxes.
One thing you should consider is the price of the equipment — the cable modem or the DSL modem. Your might want to rent the modem, if that’s an option, but it can quickly be the expensive route. Unlike the early days when the modem was $200 or more, these days a brand-name DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem can be as low as $75.
Another is the length of service contract you’re signing. What if cable lets you sign up and doesn’t require a 12-month commitment, but the DSL provider requires a 12-month commitment with cancellation penalty?
Just like considering the fine print in a cellphone contract, you need to pay attention to the broadband provider’s contract, too.
I’m sure you’ve heard all the anti-DSL comments from the cable people and the anti-cable comments from the DSL people. Flip a coin. If you’ve been using dialup, you’ll be very pleased with either option.
But, beware. Once you’ve tried broadband, you’ll never want to go back to dialup!
Unless, of course, your broadband gets interrupted…
Real Life Experience
I’m glad I had a dialup service for backup during Hurricane Katrina in 2006 — my power was out, but I was able to finish and send my weekly computer tips newsletter to my mailing list service. I used my notebook computer, its dialup modem, my telephone "land line" and my backup dialup Internet service. It worked well.
If you lose your phone service because of a phone system problem, you’ll probably lose your DSL service at the same time.
But, if you have a cable ISP, you can get a dialup ISP as a backup. Fortunately, NetZero offers a great choice — a free NetZero dialup account with up to 10 hours per month. If you’ve got a notebook computer, it’s a great solution for travel, too. If you don’t have a dialup modem, yhou can get a USB-based dialup modem for $25 or less, so that solution works for both notebooks and desktop computers.