We’ve all heard the ads. Fast internet here, broadband there, surf in your garden and book holidays from the comfort of your bedroom! You can’t turn on the radio and television without getting bombarded with talk of broadband. You’d be forgiven for thinking it grew on trees. Well then why is it that so many people are surprised to hear that broadband is now available in the Claregalway Area? On the 16th November Eircom enabled the local exchange and hundreds of houses and businesses can now get broadband. Despite the lack of champagne and cutting of ribbons, E-Day arrived.
WHAT does it all mean to the common Joe. Well let me try and break it down. Once upon a time there was a big bunch of computers whirring away. They all had some information stored on them. But no one computer knew everything so a bunch of people decided that it would be better to share each others information. So they connected to each other via a bunch of wires on a network. They called it the internet! Then when they wanted to send a letter to each other, after inventing the internet they decided to do it using the computer and so email was born.
Now using my little computer at home I can connect this internet thing and with the help of an internet browser can find all the information I want. I go to a certain computers store of information, called a website, and I read and learn.
HOW do I hop on the internet ? From home I use my computer and a phone line and a computers MODEM. The computer rings another computer and after some beeping and funny tones I can now access the internet. One thing that becomes clear when using phones for computer data is that speed matters. For normal phone calls it doesn’t. (Well not in modern calls. Compare it to the calls to America in the not so distant past. Remember those few seconds of pause you had to allow so that conversation would be in order! How about crossed lines? ) Anyway, these same issues arise again when computers speak. The better the quality of your phone line, the faster the speed.
WHY broadband? As computers became more the norm, and the internet became a more popular source of all kinds of information, people wanted to do more than just read information and send an email. So photos were attached to emails and websites provided things other than just basic information. And so, the desire for more pictures, sound, video, games and of course ads, all managed to make using the internet from home a slow experience. Telecom providers dug up our roads and lay down fibre optic cables to provide faster internet access between and around cities. This is slowly creeping its way to villages and towns. Fast internet can be brought to your door via your phone line (DSL or ADSL), via wireless or via Satelite. Whatever the method, a fast internet connection is called broadband.
And now back to Claregalway as it is today. We can connect to the internet using ADSL broadband. This means that anyone with a phone line can apply to a broadband provider. They will tell you instantly if your line is suitable for broadband. If it is, your existing phone number and line does not change. All that will happen is that you will pay for a broadband service. In return you receive information quicker. And if you want to send a picture then no problem. Click away. Whether you agree or not, the internet has been a revolution, and for proper use of the internet you really do need broadband.
So what’s available ? Since the exchange was upgraded, it means that most broadband service providers can offer their services to us. The big names such as Eircom, UTV Internet, BT Ireland and Imagine are all available but the list is much longer.
Each provider offer many different packages. The two most obvious differences are installation cost and the monthly charge. No need to explain those any further.
Next the contract length: Some offer a free trial, others a six month contract while others request a commitment for a year.
Next factor: some packages have lower costs but have time limitations i.e. 20 hours per month. This may suit people who are not yet sure of the advantages of broadband, or possibly those who need only occasional but fast internet access.
Next up is the speed factor. It comes in two stages, from the website to you (download) and then from your computer to the internet (upload). For most people the download speed is the important one. It determines how quickly you get the information. These are measured in kilo-Bytes (kB) or MegaBytes (MB). Larger = Faster. The upload speed is not as important for the majority of users, but will be most apparent when you send emails with large attachments, use IP based phones (I’ll leave that subject until next month!) or online games.
Other factors worth considering: If you have more than one computer, or a business, then you may wish to share the broadband connection. To do this you will need a broadband router . Some packages offer these as standard. To connect to the router you will need a network cable and a network card. An alternative to using physical wires is a wireless broadband router – to connect you just need a wireless network card. Finally other things worth thinking about is how long it will take to connect up with the provider are there download limits – although this is not normally a problem are there line rental and call charge discounts?
While it is great that broadband has arrived for both business and leisure, everything is not solved. Using your phone line for broadband means that :
you require a phone line to be live, so you incur the cost of line rental your phone line quality must be excellent for data (you’ve no control over that)
your phone line can be no more than 4km in length to the exchange.
Through the Claregalway Group Broadband project, which was set up last February to help bring broadband to Claregalway and the surround areas, we have mixed results with respect to coverage of broadband. Some townlands can get it, others can’t. Some people in those townlands can get it and some can’t. Check with your phone provider if it is available for your phone number, indeed many providers websites offer a line check facility.
However, if like me, you can’t get broadband via your phone, then all is not lost. We are still hoping to get a provider into the area who will provider wireless broadband to the area. Please contact me or check on www.claregalway.net website.
For those who do get connected, enjoy the internet for what it is. If you are new to the internet, its better to get trained in. Try going to a search engine ( e.g. www.google.ie ) and typing a few words of a familiar subject e.g. Claregalway. A page of results for a search of your words will return and the rest all the rest is, as they say, surfing.
Finally, on the subject of online security, privacy and protection. There are those who would make your online experience an unpleasant time. Fortunately software such as anti-virus, firewall, ad blockers, content controllers and spam filters can overcome these wrong-doers. Make sure always to install some type of this software and keep it up to date.
Drop me an email for more information on broadband or any of these subjects. I’ll be happy to advise and help you in any way I can. If you are having other PC hardware or software problems, or just want to know more about using one, then for fast and friendly help and advice please email or call me.
Nollaig Shona agus Blian Nua Mhaith
Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Christmas
firstname.lastname@example.org, 087 9333181