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    Cable Modem Basics

 

frequently asked questions
  • What is a cable modem?
  • So cable modem service is nothing more than a different wire? Whatís the big deal?
  • How does it work?
  • Do I have to choose between watching TV and surfing the Net?
  • Does my computer have to be right next to my television?
  • Does a cable modem connection cost a bundle?
  • What else do I get besides the connection?
  • How do I install a cable modem?
  • Can I really surf the Web at high speed all the time? Or is this just hype?
  • How fast is the Internet connection Iím using now?
  • So does my AOL account become useless?
  • Does cable modem service work with a PC or a Macintosh?
  • Will my computer need to be connected to a phone connection at all?

    What is a cable modem?
    A cable modem is a device that connects your personal computer to the Internet, using cable TV wires instead of your telephone. You use that cable connection to surf Web sites, send instant messages, visit newsgroups, and check E-mailóall the stuff youíre doing now, just without the phone connection.   back to top >

    So cable modem service is nothing more than a different wire? Whatís the big deal?
    Weíre talking about much more than just a wire. Itís a little like comparing a skateboard to a race car. Accessing the Web with cable modem service can easily be more than 50 times faster than getting online with a 28.8 modem. That means video or music files will come screaming down the line into your computer. When the grandkidsóor the grandparentsóE-mail you a picture, youíll spend your time viewing and sharing, rather than pacing the floor and waiting for the file to arrive.   back to top >

    How does it work?
    The TV cable in your home plugs into the cable modem, which is then attached to your computerís network connection. When you use cable modem service, youíre using what, in geek-speak is known as a "broadband" connectionóthe fast lane on the Internet. Itís also an always-on connection Thereís no more dialing. No more busy signals. Just launch your Web browser and go. And like we said, itís fast.   back to top >

    Do I have to choose between watching TV and surfing the Net?
    Nope. Cable TV and cable modem service use different electronic frequencies, so you can watch a show in one room while someone else is online in another part of the house.  
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    Does my computer have to be right next to my television?
    No again. Itís just like adding cable for a second television in a den or a bedroom; you can run a separate wire. Same goes for the computer.   back to top >

    Does a cable modem connection cost a bundle?
    Services vary from different cable companies, but itís common for cable modem service to run about $40 a month. Thatís not much different from what you might be paying now for Internet service plus a second phone line. And, with cable modem service, your kids will be able to chat online for hours, without tying up the phone. And just like you rent your cable TV converter box, you rent the cable modem. Itís usually included in the basic monthly fee.   back to top >

    What else do I get besides the connection?
    Most cable companies offer a package that is comparable to what youíre used to from your current service provider: Internet access, E-mail boxes, and space to store your sound and video files on their networkís computers.   back to top >

    How do I install a cable modem?
    Just like the cable guy comes to install your TV service, the cable company will come out and get your Internet service going. Again, check with your local provider.   back to top >

    Can I really surf the Web at high speed all the time? Or is this just hype?
    You certainly wonít surf at maximum speed every time. There are too many factors that influence Internet connections to make that promise. However, itís a no-brainer bet that, at worst, cable modem service will run rings around your old phone connection.   back to top >

    How fast is the Internet connection Iím using now?
    Thereís a useful page on CNET.com that can tell you how fast youíre surfing and how much faster options like cable modem service can be. Try this out: http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eBSo0ivK60U0DK6S.   back to top >

    So does my AOL account become useless?
    Not at all. You can still access AOL through your cable modem connectionópossibly at a reduced cost over the dial-up service.   back to top >

    Does cable modem service work with a PC or a Macintosh?
    Yes. Once again, check with your local provider for minimum system requirements.   back to top >

    Will my computer need to be connected to a phone connection at all?
    In most cases, no. You use the cable modem service to send and receive files. There are still some cable systems are one-way, meaning that youíll need a phone connection in addition to the cable modem service. Things you send (like E-mails) go over the phone line; things you receive (which is what you do most of the time youíre online) come over the TV cable. You should ask your cable company whether itís a one- or a two-way system. Most have upgraded or are in the process. One more consideration: If you do a lot of faxing from the computer, you might want to keep the phone line around, anyway.   back to top >





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