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BuyingTips - Modem

What is a Modem?

A modem allows your computer to transmit data over phone lines. A modem is essential for accessing the Internet and online services. A modem can also be used to send faxes as well as receive faxes directly to your computer. Modem speed is measured in Kbps or thousands of bits per second and in a few cases Mbps or millions of bits per second. The higher the number, the faster the modem can transmit and receive information.

However, in order to use your modem's full capabilities, you'll need a internet service provider you can connect with at that speed. Most of the Internet service providers support speeds up to 56Kb. You may want to contact your local Internetservice providers as well as your telephone and cable company to see if faster services are available in your area.

Type of Modems

Analog Modems: Analog modems are most commonly used to get online. Their advantage is that you can use them over any phone line, dialup accounts are very inexpensive, and the hardware is affordable. Currently, the top modem speed is 56Kbps, however, you will never achieve a connection that fast because of the limitations of the phone network or because some ISPs haven't yet upgraded their equipment. Make sure the modem you buy supports the same standards as your ISP. The worldwide standard V.90 ensures that your modem can talk to another V.90 modem, even if another manufacturer makes that modem. Since most Internet service providers support V.90, having a V.90 modem means you can connect at your modem's top speed all the time, at least theoretically.

Many analog modems are more than a Dialup box as manufacturers now support advanced calling features such as Caller ID, Call waiting, speakerphone and voicemail .

Digital Modems: xDSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a new technology that uses regular telephone lines to deliver high-speed Internet access. These modems can squeeze large amounts of information through the regular phone lines. Some types of DSL can receive information at speeds of up to 1.5 to 6 MBPS, over 30 times the speed of ananalog modem.

Many different groups have been developing DSL technologies, and each works in a different way. The x in xDSL, therefore, represents the various types of DSL technologies: full-rate DSL, HDSL, VDSL, and RADSL to name a few. Unfortunately, many of these types of DSL are incompatible with one another; you must use the same typeof DSL as your telephone company.

DSL is an asymmetric technology: The upstream capacity ranges from 640Kbps to 1.5Mbps, while downstream speeds approach 8Mbps. DSL takes advantage of the fact that most people download more information than they upload and dedicates more bandwidth to where it is needed.

Cable Modems: Cable modem uses cable television wiring in your home to bring the Internet to you. It is fastest available modem technology that most people can get at home or in a small business.

Since this technology uses cable rather than your telephone line, you don't tie up your telephone while you're surfing and can continue to make telephone calls as usual. Also, using your cable modem doesn't interfere with your cable television reception.

You can share your modem among several computers by connecting them together in a network. You'll have to buy special hardware device and software to set up this network. Once connected you can also share files and printers between various computers.

Internal vs. External Modem: You can attach a modem to a PC internally, with a card that plugs into a slot; externally, connecting through a serial or USB cable; or through a PC Card, which is usually the best option for a laptop.

Reliability: Modems are notorious for breaking down without warning. You should only buy well known brand from a reputable company that offers a rock-solid warranty.

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