Why should I want always on, high speed internet access?

We can offer many reasons why you should sign up for some form of always on, high speed service. However, the most compelling content that might appear here is the real world examples that people out there use every day. We want to hear from people in every area of business and personal life.

Most people seem to concentrate on the high speed aspect of this access. We should spend a minute exploring the always on part of the equation as it is often overlooked. What advantages are there to an always on connection?

The always on part:

Instant email:

When a connection is always on, it isn't necessary to connect (usually dialup) to the network to check for new messages. As soon as a message is sent on the network, it will appear in your mailbox.

Great you say, but I really am not in that much of a hurry for my email. So, when you want to communicate in a hurry, you pick up the phone. Depending on how you do a days work, it can be very useful to be able to depend on a quick email reply instead of dealing with the inevitable voicemail. It is far more efficient than dealing with someone's voicemail or bad mobile reception. You also are probably going to get far more direct communication and undivided attention for the few minutes they are replying. Once you get used to emailing rather than phoning, you will probably prefer it. The other added bonus is that you have a record of the communication. It is sometimes difficult to remember exactly what you said or asked later when it's a phone call.

Instant Messaging:

There are many software programs available for free which allow you to send the equivalent of text messages to anyone else logged into the internet. While many look upon this as a toy, more and more people are using it as a legitimate means of business communication. With an always on connection, friends, family, business associates and others can see if you are available and drop you a note which instantly appears on your screen. You can choose to reply now, later or not at all. You can also choose to let people know when you are online or not and change your online 'status' if you don't want to be disturbed. You can stay in touch with someone in the same building or equally effectively with someone anywhere else in the world. It can still be used without an always on connection, it is of course far less effective though.

Most of these software programs will also support voice and video communication over the internet. You will need a microphone and speakers or preferably a headset for voice communications and a camera for video communications. While voice will work well over a dialup connection, video will be very broken up and slow. It may not be worth the trouble. Voice and video will both work far better on a midband or broadband connection.

Virus updates:

This area of internet life is becoming increasingly challenging. Viruses are travelling quickly and infecting more machines. One of the most important things to protect yourself is to have anti virus software on your machine. However, without constant updates of your virus 'definitions', the software can be almost useless. Virus definitions are specifics of new viruses that have been discovered. The software on the machine grabs these from the software manufacturer as they are made available. They tell the software on the machine about new viruses and how to deal with them. Without these definitions, the software won't be equipped to recognise new viruses and eliminate them.

It is like the Interpol most wanted lists. the police could have a criminal who just robbed his first bank standing in its offices paying a speeding fine and wouldn't recognise him unless it had the latest information.

Without an always on connection, you might connect to the internet, download an email and open a virus before the software gets a chance to get the latest info. You then have a complicated and possibly damaging cleanup job to do. With the always on connection, the software will have grabbed the info sooner and your PC will be protected.

Windows Updates:

Microsoft has a service available to all recent operating systems which configured correctly will automatically check for, download and install new security updates on your computer. It does this in the background. Again, with an always on connection, it does this continuously. The recent blaster worm would have been far less damaging had more people had this feature enabled and been connected to the internet. Besides security updates, the service provides more recent drivers and updated versions of utility software as they are made available.

The high speed part:

Everything is faster!:

Almost all communication done with a computer is two way. Higher bandwidth connections mean the information gets to and from you faster. It enhances the web browsing experience to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the sites you visit.

Streaming media:

This is one of the coolest applications of the internet. Visit any news website (for example) and you will have the option to view video of the latest news from around the world. You can click on a link and the video is 'broadcast' to your computer. This video stream is coming down the wire to you in real time. In other words, if the connection fails, the picture stops. If the bandwidth decreases, the picture gets jumpy or breaks up. Higher bandwidth connections allow the video to be received smoothly. There are also usually options to select different quality feeds, depending on the bandwidth available to the viewer. Of course, higher bandwidth feeds offer better quality video.

File downloads:

File sizes never get smaller unfortunately. Every new release of software adds megabytes of extra data. Many programs look regularly for updates on the internet. If they find them, they download them automatically. If you happen to be on a narrowband connection, it will take a long time and tie up your connection. It won't be easy to do other things internet related like send and receive email and browse websites. You may even delay the agony and opt to download it at a later date, again and again.

In addition to these programs and updates, there are large email attachments. Again, they are getting larger all the time. People seldom take the size of an attachment into account when sending, usually as they have a broadband connection and it doesn't cause any grief. However, the person on the other side, receiving the 5MB attachment spends ten minutes downloading it if on dialup. Again, this makes it difficult to do other internet related jobs at the same time and is generally frustrating.


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Notice to Reader: The information provided is a summary of research and industry experience up to the time of writing and is not meant to purport to be a complete or all-inclusive collection of information on the topic. It is only meant to give the reader a basis of information to understand the topic. To the best of our knowledge, it was accurate at time of posting but may have changed, not contain all material available or since released and no longer be accurate or valid. Readers are cautioned not to make decisions based solely on this material and are urged to verify information and perform their own current research. Opinions expressed by the author(s) are their own and not necessarily those of the company.