SO... are you looking for the fastest , most affordable connection to the internet? Well then , the cable modem is just for you. With theoretical download rates of up to 10mbps and uploads of 2mbps , the cable modem is by far the fastest internet connection available to the home user. It wipes the floor from underneath ISDN , DirectPC (Satellite) , and ordinary phone modems. Not only is the speed of the cable modem outrageous , cable modems generally cost between 35-60$ a month! (I pay 40$ for my service , @home , from comcast) Yes , that is it! for 40$ a month , you get unlimited internet , a PERMANENT connection via LAN , 5megs of web space , and 3 email addresses. Not only does the cable modem give you speed , it gives you excellent latency. I can play games like quake2 over the internet with pings ranging from 0-50. I can start my own server and have 20 people playing on it with no lag , the list is endless. For the price (and preformance for that matter) the cable modem can't be beat. Below is a table comparing the theoretical speeds of the latest internet connections available.
NOTE: The above graph is theoretical rates for downloading only. For example , the X2 technology only goes up to 53K , 33.6K upload. The DirectPC is 400k download , however uploading requires the use of your phone. The Cable modem uploads at 768kbps , and it's download speeds rarely surpass 4mbps (500kbytes/sec) , and this speed is usually off of a big site , such as microsoft.com , or the ZDnet FTP (I downloaded ZDbench 98 at average of over 500k/sec).
Looking at this comparision , you can see that the cable modem isn't
something to mess with. Plus , notice that price is not included in this
chart. Below is a table comparing the price and the kbps/price of each
internet connection. Notice that the cable modem gives the advantage of
freeing up a phone line as well , since it uses your cable line for fast
data transmittance. Extra phone line charges are not included to give the
phone modems somewhat of an advantage. The next section will explain how
the cable modem is capable of acheiving such high transfer rates.
As you can see from this chart , sometimes , you don't get what you pay for...you get more! As you can see , the cable modem is by far the best choice between all of these technologies. (All the prices are estimates for unlimited use , for example , directPC charges money by the meg, however i think there is a way to get unlimited , and i think it costs around 120$). The only reason I can think of not getting a cable modem is if it doesn't exist in your area (the majority of the world). However , in a few years we should see all of the United States and other countries as well wired to the internet via cable modem. Now , how does the cable modem work?
The Mystery behind the Magic
The Cable Modem works pretty simply actually , it uses the broad
band cable lines to transmit data instead of the cluttered slow telephone
lines. Now why is the cable lines so much faster? Think about this: When
you watch cable TV , 30 (29.97 to be exact) frames are being sent to you
every second + sound! And you receive it all. In order to receive that
much in so little time , there must be lots of bandwith present in cable
lines. Now why didn't they (tech people) think about this before? Actually
they did. The problem with using this technology for transmitting DIGITAL
data is the digital part. Since TV is analog , it hasn't been much of a
problem transmitting/receiving that fast , however , to make receive a
digital signal from an analog source , an ADC is required. (Analog to Digital
converter) This is the problem. Scientists could not make an affordable
ADC that can convert data at a rate of 10Mbps , that is , until now.
Even now though , a good cable modem is quite expensive (400-600$) , however
, most companies , such as my provider , @home , includes cable modem rental
in their price. So the 40$ a month INCLUDES the cable modem (and the required
NIC)! So , that's (almost) all there is to the fast download rates! Another
problem which existed was transmitting data. The people who invented cable
did not look much into the future and created their receivers to do one
thing , receive. This means that data can only travel fast one way. In
order to correct this problem , companies had to make a transmitter which
would be able to transmit data at fast rates as well. This is still a problem
, considering the cable modem only uploads at a speed of 768kbps. (Oooh
, thats SO SLOW! :·)
I Want it! Where can I get it?
Many companies such as Comcast , COX , etc. provide cable modems , call your cable operator and ask them if they offer cable modems , you might even be lucky and get to beta test!
Below are some links to get you started.