A history of internet access post 2000 and a look to the future – part one

  • The Year 2000:

The new millennium is here, and dial-up is still providing around 30% of internet users with 40-50kbits/s as a standard rate. You would be hard-pressed to find anything more than a web page let alone YouTube at this moment in time.

Dial-up Internet access works by using a modem, and a phone call placed over the public switched telephone network (PSTN). This connects to a pool of modems operated by an ISP. What happens next is the modem converts a computer’s signal into an analogue signal that essentially travels over a phone line until it reaches a telephone company’s switching facilities or central office. It is switched to another phone line which connects to another modem at the remote end of the connection.

Using the existing telephone network and a combination of the modems and servers needed, this was the beginnings of the Internet access that we are familiar with today.

  • Moving forward:

As the new millennium progressed, better forms of internet access started to come to the fore. While many of the technologies already existed, they were starting to be streamlined at this point and had become more readily available.

Services like cable internet and DSL were used to provide what was at the time high-speed access to the web.

  • Still available today:

DSL is still readily available and is now the most basic form of internet access available.

A Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service creates a connection to the Internet through the phone network. Fortunately, unlike dial-up, DSL can operate using a single phone line and can work without preventing normal use of the phone. So there’s no need to lose the phone! DSL uses high frequencies, while the low frequencies are left free for regular phone calls. Filters then separate these frequencies and are installed at the premises.

The word DSL originally stood for ‘digital subscriber loop’.  In telecommunications, the term digital subscriber line tends to be used for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL). That is because ADSL is the most commonly installed type of DSL. The data throughput of consumer DSL services typically ranges from 256 kb/s to 20 Mb/s for download. For ADSL, the upload rate is lower than the download, hence the designation of a Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line. With a Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL), the download and upload speeds are equal.

Despite – unfortunately – being the only option available in some business parks, DSL strangles the digital capabilities of all but the smallest companies. Our advice is to stay clear.

Look out for the next post on the history of internet access and what’s to come. Find out what we are doing to bring the next digital revolution to cities. 

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