The REAL "Highway to the Internet

The REAL "Highway" to the Internet

Taken from a e-mail message to a client on 10 Jan, 2001.  (Client's "words" are underlined)  For those reading this outside of Australia, $'s quoted are in Australian $'s.

If I am not a heavy user of internet (yet) and can tolerate the slow speed, is the cost difference that great between casual internet access and via cable modem?

Well this is a relative question. What are you planning to do on the internet from home ? Let me suggest some parameters that will help you formulate your response.

We have been "users" of the internet for years now. We used e-mail via what was considered the largest private network outside of the US defense force - Digital's network. So we were e-mail "addicts" long before e-mail was a lay man's term.

So when we started our own business the 2nd most important thing at home was the connection to e-mail. (At the time, the fax machine was the MOST important. Now I think we have gotten two faxes in the last month and probably haven't sent more than that either !)

But e-mail addiction lead to interest in news groups (that's how you got more general information before the web was widely available). So it stood to reason that led to moderate usage of the WWW as it become more freely available. The continuing problem was cost. We played with a number of service providers in the beginning, but very quickly gravitated to CompuServe for a number of reasons (we had a business interest in the US that used Compuserve as their information provider - sort of the step between news groups and the WWW). But registered as a Compuserve user in the US meant we had to disregard costs. It was use Compuserve and have contact with our US business interests or loose the business interest.

In the mean time the WWW came along, ISP pricing was as varied as service levels (from little $s to BIG $'s and from never being able to dial up with busy signal, line drop out etc). But Compuserve still had a big attraction as it probably has more dial up points around the world than any other service provider. And when you have 7 overseas trips in one year and your business depends on your being able to dial up and read e-mail at least, again cost was not the issue.

And then on the X'th day there was cable internet. This was the biggie - fast and cheap - but it took Optus almost two years to deliver it to our place in Pennant Hills (We were one of the 1st with cable television almost 2 years ago because they promised we would have preference to get cable internet !)

FIRST - MOST important question ! Presume you have checked to see if Optus and / or Telstra can in fact install cable internet in your area ? If not, the rest is not relevant until the date they give you when they can (and then add some for contingency).

We had plenty of time to review the cost of our internet connection in that 2 year time. Later in the piece the bigger players offered unlimited time - first OzEmail, then Telstra and I think now One Net and a few others. This ranges from about $20 to $50 per month. Terms vary as to what "unlimited" actual means. But we found OzEmail to be pretty good (was $34 but now think it is $24) and we had good lines to their servers (I.E. read - few drop outs, few busy on dial, etc.) However, ALL of these unlimited (and other ISPs) are actually limited not by time but by speed of connection. 56.6K modems are the norm now (you do have a 56.6 and not 36.6 or 28.8 ?) And while 56.6 seems fast, it is typically only that fast in the download direction. If you are uploading mail, web updates or whatever, then it typically runs at slower than 56.6 when going up.

Now you probably can shop around for cheap unlimited and you can probably get good service and you can probably get software that will "speed up" your browsing and such.

But when you weigh it all up and look at the incremental difference between dial up and cable internet, it's pretty much an "emotional" decision. (There are a few downsides to cable, like more easy access for hackers to your system unless you get some firewall hardware or software - a finite and not expensive cost, but a cost none-the-less).

So the emotion is - do I want SPEED (let me tell you cable is FAST. Except at peak time - about 5pm to 9pm, the difference is like the difference between going by car and going by plane.) or do I want to watch my costs.

Word of warning on Optus vs. Telstra - Optus did not restrict access in some ways like Telstra did. Optus have in fact changes their AUP (Agreed User Policy) and does place some restrictions. There are some article hidden away in the press where Optus kicked about 70 users off their cable and banned them for life. Not getting into the legal issues of changing the contract after it it implemented, the only ones they would kick off are the ones who suck all the bandwidth and made it hard for the rest of us in the first place. We don't even come close to Optus' limits and I would say I am a medium to heavy user (relative to ????)

Frankly for us, me in particular, building web sites - uploading sites, downloading and researching thing for clients - the cost is reasonable for the speed with which work can be accomplished.

So, now too you - What do you plan to do from home ? Do you plan to travel ? And what of the above story appeals to you ?

Page created 11 January, 2001.  Last update - 11 January, 2001 22:31:58 +1000 Hit Counter