The need for speed Featured

9:49am EDT October 31, 2002
If you surf the Web with a modem, you're probably familiar with the bursts, pauses, long access time and slow motion on the Internet during peak times. Some people call the World Wide Web the World Wide Wait, but new technology -- Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) -- may bring you relief on the information highway.

The name doesn't really refer to a line but to the modems that convert a line into a high-speed digital pipe. The modem converts the copper twisted-pair telephone line into access paths for high-speed communication.

ADSL downstream speed ranges from 1.5 Mbps to 8 Mbps. These downstream speeds transform the copper twisted-pair into a super-fast transmission method. Downstream data rates depend on several factors, including the length of the copper line and modem capabilities.

Among the technologies attempting to break the Internet gridlock, ADSL seems to succeed because it takes advantage of the fact that most of its target applications (video on demand, home shopping, Internet access, remote LAN access and multimedia) function perfectly well with a relatively low upstream data rate. ADSL also has the following benefits.

* You can have it on 24 hours, seven days a week, without any time-based charges.

* There's no need to dial up, and there are no drop-out hassles.

* It's fast, 20 to 50 times faster than a conventional 56 kbs modem.

* You can make and receive telephone calls while online.

* It's a cost-effective solution for residential customers, telecommuters and medium to small businesses.

There is a difference between the speed at which you connect to the Internet and the speed at which Web pages and files are transferred to your computer. No matter how fast your connection, speed on the Internet itself can affect download performance.

The amount of traffic on the Internet is a major factor. Generally, download speeds slow during times of peak demand, such as lunchtime and in the evening.

If you're looking for more speed out of the Internet, ADSL is the solution. You can download a 25 MB file (Netscape 4.0 or Internet Explorer 4.0) in less than three minutes and browse through 25 Web pages with text and graphics in about 13 seconds.

ADSL was born of the need for speed, coupled with the desire for low cost. There is no doubt ADSL will revolutionize the way we see the Web. If we are to realize the potential of cyberspace, we will need to access it with as much convenience as turning on the television.

With the Internet influencing our lives more and more each day, it will be high-speed ADSL connections that power the revolution, as people begin to view ADSL like they view cable TV. Mark J. Pyle (mpyle@us-network.com) is vice president of US Network, an authorized five-star distributor for SBC Ameritech. Reach US Network at (216) 696-7575.