you're growing old waiting for the Internet...
by Alan Zisman (c) 1996 First published
in Business in Vancouver
, Issue #365 October 22, 1996 High Tech Office
of us, you've gotten at least a taste of the Net, but as you've waited
seconds or more from the time you clicked until the page, pictures and
showed up on your screen, you may have wondered if this was what the
was all about.
And as for
of online multimedia, you might as well forget it. If you're connecting
a modem, you may have found that it could easily take 15 to 30 minutes
receive what turned out to be a 2 minute video clip.
streaming and compression help a little-RealAudio, for example,
AM-radio quality real-time sound, even over standard modems. And you'll
a real performance boost by simply turning off the AutoLoad Images
in Netscape... of course, then you'll get funny little icons in place
all the graphics, but that will let you focus more on the actual
content. And you'll avoid most of the ads.
technology is pretty much maxed out... while modem speeds are inching
don't expect another doubling of performance like we've seen, moving
14.4 to 28.8 (kilobits per second) in the past year or so. There are,
a bunch of new technologies, promising to bring the Net into your home
office, at speeds meriting the superhighway cliché, rather than today's
metaphoric country dirt road.
* BC Tel's
Communications people are offering a range of options. Like other phone
nation-wide, they've been slowly expanding ISDN-what cynics have called
solution looking for a problem. You'll need to purchase an ISDN line
$200 or more per month, along with a digital modem such as Motorola's
BitSurfr-Pro. You'll end up with 128 kbs access-about 5 times as fast
standard modem speeds. But even 15 years after first becoming
ISDN isn't an option everywhere. Elsewhere, BC Tel offers 56 kbs
about double the best modem speed. Of course, if you've got deep
are a real need for speed, the phone company will happily lease you a
T-1 line. 1,544 kbs (or 1.5 meg) -about 50 times modem speed. About
per month. With one of these, you can give everyone on the company's
a high-speed connection. (www.bctel.net/biz; 454-1447)
around for a long time, it may not really be fast enough to provide a
solution. Instead, the phone companies are readying another
Unlike ISDN, Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Lines aren't here yet; the
just going into initial testing. It's too early to have any sense of
cost of this technology, but its big advantage is that it uses a pair
the existing standard copper-wire phone lines, letting customers
to use their current phones while getting high-speed data at the same
Again, you'll need special modems-these are just going into production,
early models costing $2,000 or more. It sounds promising, but it's not
still somewhere over the horizon is cable modem. Rogers Wave went into
last Fall in Newmarket Ontario, and are now testing the service in
It won't be available commercially here until 'sometime in 1997'
to the Rogers cable guy at the recent Power Up Internet Expo... and
then, only in selected areas. Cable modems promise speeds from 500 kbs
an eventual 30 megs-that is from 20 to 1,000 times as fast as today's
Users lease a cable modem from the cable company; rates are expected to
around $50 per month. And is there a cable-tv connection to your office?
final option sounds
the most like science fiction, but surprisingly, it's available now.
is a service of US-based Hughes Network Systems that provides Internet
via the Galaxy IV satellite, orbiting 35,000 km up. It's being handled
by Surrey's Cyberion Networking (www.cyberion.com, 501-5400), and
400 kbs access-three times as fast as ISDN, and in the ballpark with
initial promises. To use the satellite, you need a 60 cm (24 inch)
dish connected to your computer (PCs only-Macs need not apply, at least
now), which costs $1099; installation can add up to $450. Monthly rates
at around $20, going up with the amount of data transferred.