The facilities required to connect to the Internet include a modem, a telecom line connection and Internet access through an Internet Service Provider (ISP)
1. Connection to a Phone Line
A computer is physically connected to the Internet using a modem which changes the digital computer signals into tones that can travel down a normal phone line. The modem is connected via a cable to a normal phone line socket. Modems are available as an internal modem card or an external modem that sits on the desktop and attaches to the serial port of the PC using a cable.
An internal modem is cheaper and takes up less desk space but has the disadvantage that they require some computer experience to install and sometimes cause conflicts within the computer that may be difficult to resolve. External modems are more expensive and take up desk space but are simple to connect to the PC, are portable and usually cause fewer conflicts with existing hardware.
Digital lines allow digital data to be transmitted directly over the line without the need for modulation which is required for normal analogue phone lines. Digital lines are higher quality, more reliable and offer greater data transfer rates. As a result they do not suffer noise and dropouts that are a problem for analogue lines. They are more expensive than normal analogue lines and have previously only been used by larger businesses and organisations. Digital lines are currently being installed around Australia and this will provide high speed digital connection to normal households at a reasonable cost.
2. Selecting an Internet Service Provider (ISP)
ISP’s such as Primus provide an Internet connection, storage space for a web site and basic e-mail facilities for around $25-$30 a month. These facilities are often adequate for personal use or small business with a non-interactive web site used for advertising. Larger sites generally use commercial web site hosting facilities.
ISP options may include paying per hour of Internet access, a fixed monthly quota of hours at a reduced price or unlimited hours. Unlimited access does not mean the connection is permanent as the line is generally disconnected by the provider at set intervals around 4 hours. The connection can then be re-established by redialling and establishing the connection.
Factors to consider when choosing an ISP are:
- Download limits. This usually does effect normal web surfers unless they consistently download large files
- Number of individual email addresses supplied if you require more than one
- Disk space quota if a web site is to be hosted at the ISP
Setting up Internet access is generally a simple process.
Connecting a Modem
An internal modem should be installed by a computer retailer. If this is the case they should also install any associated software and check that the modem functions correctly.
An external modem is connected via a cable that is provided with the modem. The cable can not be plugged into the wrong socket on the computer so don’t be afraid. The new modem will be detected on start up and a series of wizards will guide you through the installation of the software required by the modem. During the installation you may asked for the Windows CD or the CD that came with the modem.
Setting up the Internet Connection
To connect to the Internet the modem must be connected to a telephone socket using the cable provided with the modem.
To set up the connection, Windows provides an icon on the desktop called Connect to the Internet. Click this icon and a connection wizard will take you through the connection process. It will ask you a few questions which will require some information which will have been provided by your ISP. ISP’s generally provide a service number to contact if any problems arise with the installation.