VPN Broadband Access (Cable and DSL)
What Is Broadband?
Broadband technologies provide high-speed access to the Internet. These technologies are an alternative to dial-up methods that use a traditional analog modem.
The major broadband technologies are:
- Cable Modem Service
- Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Service
Cable modem services use the same coaxial cable or fiber optic line that brings cable television into your home. A cable modem connects users to the Internet by means of the cable company’s network. Because of its superior bandwidth capacity, cable modem delivers greatly enhanced speed to users.
DSL services provide a high-bandwidth connection over the same wires that provide your telephone service. Since DSL uses a different frequency than the phone service, you can use the same line to make phone calls while your PC is connected to the Internet.
With both of these broadband technologies, your PC is always connected to the Internet.
Should I Use Broadband?
The high-speed, “always-on” Internet access provided by broadband technologies offers obvious advantages. And broadband might particularly benefit you if:
- You need to be connected to the network for many hours a day from a fixed location.
- You have large downloads/uploads to process on a regular basis.
- You are a virtual worker who cannot get a reliable phone connection with a decent speed.
However, there are number of issues to consider when deciding if broadband is right for you:
Availability Cable modem or DSL services are not available in all locations.
Cost Broadband access is generally more expense than dial-up service. Prices typically range from $40 to $80 monthly depending on your area, your provider, and the specific type of service you need.
Security With a cable modem or DSL line, your PC is always connected to the Internet with a persistent IP address. Since this makes you a potential target for hackers, your PC should be secured by a firewall.
Portability Cable modem and DSL services are not portable. For example, you do not take them with you when you travel. If you need to access your network while traveling, you might need a separate dial-up ISP.
Comparing Cable Modem and DSL
Which is better, Cable modem or DSL? There is no simple answer to this question as each technology has its advantages. Indeed, local availability of these technologies will often determine which service you choose.
The following compares the two technologies on some key characteristics.
- Requires a cable connection.
- Generally faster speed than DSL, but throughput can vary.
- Cost relative to DSL varies based on location.
- Requires a telephone line connection.
- Generally slower speed than cable, but provides a more constant throughput with lower latency.
- Cost relative to cable varies based on location.
More About Cable Modem Service
Cable modem service can be a particularly attractive option if you already have cable TV service or if you use only cellular phone service at your home.
Finding Cable Modem Service Providers
To find out if cable modem service is available in your area, start by calling your local cable TV company. Be aware, however, that some areas have more than one cable TV company. One provider might offer cable modem service, while the other does not.
Typically, you will need to deal with only one vendor (the cable company) when installing cable modem service.
Some providers require that a service technician come to your home to install the service and setup your computer with appropriate software. Other providers give you the option of installing the software and setting up the cable modem yourself.
In either event, you should be aware that:
- Not all cable modems work with every service provider. Before you purchase a modem, check with your provider to see which modems they support.
- Even if cable TV functions in your home, you might not be eligible for Internet cable access if the line quality of your coaxial cable is too weak.
If you decide to install the cable modem yourself, be sure to:
Ask your cable company what kind of splitter to use. (In many cases, the cable company will provide you with a splitter.) When purchasing a splitter, ensure that it provides EMI isolation, and that it has sufficient frequency range (approximately 5-1000 MHz). The range should be printed on the splitter.
Place only one splitter between the point where the cable TV line enters the house and the cable modem/PC. If you have multiple TVs, split the line between the first splitter and the TV–not the line between the splitter and the modem.
Do not use amplifiers in the line leading to your cable modem as they are likely to distort the cable modem signals.
More About DSL Service
DSL is provided in a variety of specific service types. Some examples include ADSL, IDSL and HDSL. Sometimes the generic abbreviation DSL is used to collectively represent the various types.
DSL is an “always on” direct connection to the Internet usually made through a router, bridge, or DSL modem.
Finding DSL Service Providers
A good place to check for DSL availability in your location is the broadbandreports.com web site. Go to the Find Service function and be sure to pre-qualify the area in which you live. This site can give you an idea of what vendors support your area, how far you are from the provider, what types of DSL and options are available and approximate prices.
You should be aware, however, that a provider might choose not to support an area due to issues other than distance. This can be the case even if you successfully pre-qualify your area for DSL service.
Also, not all providers are listed on this web site. Therefore, you might want to check the other links listed in this topic as well.
Typically, you will need to deal with three vendors (the phone company, the DSL provider, and the ISP) when installing DSL service. Even if your phone company is serving all three roles, they are usually separate divisions and communications between them can sometimes get confusing. Generally, the ISP is the designated point of contact.
As previously stated, the DSL service typically shares the copper phone line that you already have installed in your home. However with some types of xDSL (such as some IDSL implementations) do not always offer concurrent phone services on the DSL line. You should check with the ISP or phone company providing the service. In any event, DSL service can be configured to run on its own separately installed line.
Your DSL provider will set up a time for the phone company to change or install the line for DSL support. Sometime after the phone company completes this task, the DSL provider will install and test the inside wiring and equipment. Then your ISP should contact you to setup the mail and other special requirements that you may have.
When installing DSL service, you should be aware that:
Your DSL provider might need an IP address supplied by your ISP to properly test the line. Be sure the required IP address is obtained prior to installation time.
DSL installations do not always go smoothly, and delays in installation are not uncommon.
Installation problems can sometimes only be resolved effectively by getting all the parties involved together (such as through a conference call).