Internet: Communication Through Technology Including Video and Audio

Who hasn’t heard about the internet? No one! Unless, of course, you have been living in a cave for the past decade! The internet is the crowning achievement of the Information Age (which is what we call this age we live in). It has completely revolutionized how we communicate and how we live.

But what exactly is this thing we call the internet? In a nutshell, the internet is the interconnection of computers around the world. It allows users of these computers to communicate in a variety of ways: through email, streaming conferencing, website information, file sharing, and others.

For you to connect to the internet, you will need a computer and a connection to an ISP (Internet Service Provider). Your ISP will provide you with a connection and the means to connect to the internet.

The internet started out as a project of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense), which was commissioned by the Pentagon to look into the uses of networking for military purposes in 1960. From there, the internet was steadily developed to benefit the whole populace.

In the beginning, the internet could only chug along at a low data transfer rate. Today, ISPs offer speeds from 56 kilobytes per second to 10 megabytes per second or more! This allows people to transfer more data which facilitates better communication.

The internet impacts so much of our daily lives that it has become indispensable to so many people and businesses.

Uses of the Internet

1. E-mail – Gone are the days when people had to wait weeks or even months to receive postal mail! With the internet, an email can be sent and reach its destination instantaneously! E-mails have made the world a smaller place, allowing people separated by great distances to correspond.

2. Instant Messaging, Chat Rooms – Services such as AIM, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, and Skype allow people to send messages instantaneously, much like a phone conversation, but using written messages. There are also “virtual rooms” on the internet facilitated by services developed for this reason. These “rooms” allow many users to chat using written messages.

3. Webpages – Webpages are like virtual homes on the internet. They allow people to post documents on the internet that are easy to browse through and navigate. As time haspassed by, webpages have gained more functionality. Today you can download files, submit files and comments, and do all your shopping online.

Webpages serve many functions: some promote businesses, some are purely informational, and some become money making vehicles. The internet spawned what we now call e-commerce. This involves purchasing over the internet. You can even use online payment methods such as PayPal, Paydot and other methods.

4. Streaming Services and File Sharing – The internet also allows file sharing. This allows you to share files with other users. These files may be large or small. Streaming services allow you to receive data such as radio feeds, or even video feeds over the internet.

A Brave New World

In the past, the internet was limited to large institutions. Now residential internet has become more affordable. Today’s technology even allows mobile internet! You could surf the internet from a mobile device such as a cell phone, or you could surf from your laptop in areas that offer Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity). The internet makes instant communication with the rest of the world possible. In the next few years we will see much more.

Advantages of VoIP Over Traditional Telephone Services

Before the technology improved with the Internet that allowed faster data speeds with broadband services, the idea of voice over the Internet was only a dream. Our only option was the regular Plain Old Phone Service (POTS) provided over expensive copper wire.

Regular phone service usually doesn’t include many features. Even long distance requires a separate account with a long distance carrier at additional expense.

If you have Internet service from a cable company then you may be able to get phone service from them too. This is known as VoIP. It stands for Voice over Internet Protocol.

The VoIP phone service comes through your cable rather than the old copper wires. The cable company will supply you with a special telephony modem.

A telephony modem includes an Analog Telephony Adapter (ATA) built into it. This Internet modem has one or two phone jacks in addition to the usual Ethernet jack for your computer.

Features Included with VoIP

VoIP services usually include most of the technologically available features at no extra cost. Features such as the following are free with most VoIP services.

  • Call-Waiting
  • Caller-ID
  • Three-Way-Calling
  • Call Blocking
  • Call Forwarding
  • Distinctive Ring for VIP Callers
  • Long Distance (Usually to all 50 States in the USA, plus Puerto Rico)

One Important Disadvantage

If you have a power failure, your modem will not work and therefore your phone service will be knocked out.

You could connect your modem to an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) that provides power for an hour or two if you are in an area that is prone to losing electricity. In addition, your cable provider might even include a feature to forward calls to your cell phone in case of a power outage.

This can be enabled and controlled by you via a web login portal. The features listed above can also be controlled from your web portal.

Additional Line at Low Cost

If you only have one phone line, you use only one jack. However, you can have two numbers. The monthly cost for the additional line is very small compared to two-line service over copper lines.

There are two reasons why the cost is low. There is no need to run additional cables, and the central office support for an additional line does not take up any additional resources.

Internal Wiring

Connecting the phones throughout your home still requires copper wire. However, you probably already have this from your existing phone service. All you need to do is have the wires terminate at the location where your Internet Telephony Modem will reside.

You simply connect this wire to the telephony modem. The connection is made with the standard RJ-11 jack that you use with your phones.

If you have two lines running through one wire, it uses the same looking jack at the end, but this is known as an RJ-14. The inner two pins carry line 1 and the outset two pins carry line 2. In this case one of the jacks in the modem is used. You’ll notice that one of the jacks is labeled L1/L2 and the other is labeled just L2.

Final Remarks

The technology has been improved in recent years with the advent of better data compression techniques. It even provides better quality sound due to the use of digital transmission.

Long Distance can be included free, and overseas at low-cost, because the service takes advantage of the Internet satellite infrastructure that’s already in place around the world.

VoIP definitely is the wave of the future that is here now.

Preparing Your Home For Dial-Up – 7 Steps For Getting Started

With the ever-present and growing need for online access, Internet service in the home is becoming more necessary than ever before. With the current economic struggles affecting you and your family, dial-up internet is a great way to get that much needed Internet service and save money in the process. Whether you’re preparing to connect for the first time, or moving into a new home, there are a few things that you should be consider before calling the ISP to set up dial-up Internet service. These tips will help you make sure you will have everything you need to connect:

1. Check your phone line. In order to have a dial-up connection, you must have an analog landline phone, not just a phone jack, or a digital VoIP phone, or even a cable-provisioned phone. You will get an error 680, “No Dial Tone” if you try to connect to the Internet without an analog phone. Call your phone company if you do not know whether your phone is analog or digital. Some cell phones have dial-up modems that can be used with dial-up. If you are not sure, check with your provider or the cell phone manual.

2. Check for a dial-up modem. Most computers have a dial-up modem already installed on the computer, but some of the newer, cheaper computers are now being sold without dial-up modems. How can you tell if your computer has a modem? Check your tower or the back and sides of your laptop for a phone port. It should look just like a phone jack in your wall and sometimes is labeled with the picture of a phone plug or the word “line”. Don’t get your modem phone port confused with an Ethernet port, which is slightly larger and used for broadband cables.

3. Make sure your modem is working properly. You can test your modem by hooking it up with a regular telephone cord to a landline jack and creating a test dial-up account manually. You can get local access numbers from ISP websites or by calling their customer service. If you get 691 “Invalid Username and Password” error, you have established a connection to the Internet, and your modem is working properly. Any other error could indicate that your modem is not working or you possibly set up the dialer wrong. A local technician could also test and repair your modem issues if necessary. However, if you decide to take your computer to a technician, keep in mind that you may end up spending more fixing a used modem than if you just buy a new modem.

4. Buy a modem if necessary. If you don’t have a modem on your computer or it does not work, you will probably need to buy a modem. A “56 K” modem is the most recent dial-up modem and any model should be compatible to your computer, but ask a store attendant if you are not sure. You can find dial-up modems in most computer stores and department stores. Prices vary depending on the store and the type of modem you buy. You should look for external modems, as opposed to internal modems (which require removing your computer case and physically installing it inside your tower). External modems usually plug into a USB port and even amateurs should not have trouble following the installation directions.

5. Consider extra phone and modem features. If you want to be able to receive calls while you are connected, you will need to add call waiting to your phone plan. You will also need a V.92 modem that has the “modem-on-hold” feature. Caller ID is also helpful so you can see who is calling and determine if it is worth disconnecting from the Internet to take the call. V.92 modems may also help you connect at faster speeds. To check what type of modem you have on your computer, check the phone and modem options on your control panel, refer to the computer/modem manual, or check with a local technician. Your ISP can also help you locate your modem properties.

6. Check for local access numbers. Your ISP will probably give you a local access number, but they cannot verify that it is local for you. Ask for several access numbers in your area and call your phone company. Make sure these data transfer numbers will not incur any extra charges on your phone plan. If you have unlimited long distance and don’t have local access numbers, you still want to get the closest number possible to sustain a better connection. You may need to ask your long distance phone company about their policy of data transfer numbers or excessive usage. Some unlimited long distance companies may threaten to terminate your service for using a long distance access numbers excessively.

7. Consider your total expenses. Check out a variety of ISP’s available to you. Do they have contracts, hidden fees? What are the payment methods and prices, and do the prices change over time? What are the terms of service? Make sure there are no additional charges and that you understand the signup, billing, and cancellation procedure so that you do not incur unnecessary charges over a misunderstanding. How do you cancel if you’re not satisfied? There are many ISP’s wanting your business and offering great prices. Make sure you look around and get something that will give you the best deal and satisfaction. Run a search query on the name of the ISP and “promotion” or “special offer” to see if you can get a first time customer discount.

Now that you are prepared for dial-up, you can connect simply and avoid some of the typical start up surprises. Happy dial-up shopping!