High Speed Information Access
COMM 215 – Essentials of College Writing
Carol McDonald, FAC
April 10, 2001
High Speed Information Access
Communications technology is progressing at light-speed, seemingly shrinking our world, as we can now communicate and conduct business in real time around the globe. Through innovations such as high-speed modem technology, businesses and people can share new ideas with friends and colleagues from the farthest lands. As more people and businesses strive to globalize, existing communication technologies are overloading, as they have approached the limitations of today's available hardware.
To gain higher speed access to the available information over the Internet, there are many factors one must research, as they ultimately work together. These factors include hardware, choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP), as well as a modem, which will be used to send and receive the data via the Internet.
The intent of this document is to review the latest high-speed technologies for improving information access using the Internet. By understanding these new technologies, one can make a more informed decision when choosing their hardware and ISP.
Choosing Hardware for Individual Needs: Computer Choices
To gain faster Internet access requires choosing a faster computer that best suits one's needs. In determining the type of computer to purchase, one should first determine the application in which it will be used most. Applications such as word processing, computer games, and Internet access, all require various hardware and operating systems. Today, there are three main choices for computers, which include laptops, PCs, and hand-held devices. "Until recently, we only needed to decide on the type and speed of the processor that we wanted in our new computer, since most of the Intel Pentium based computers had a data bus with a maximum speed of 66 MHz" (PC World, 2000, July, p. 33). "With the release of the new Intel 100 MHz bus architecture, this has changed, as the new line of Pentium II and Pentium III processors use this new bus instead of the older 66 MHz bus" (PC World, 2000, July, p. 33). Needless to say, a PC equipped with this much power will surely increase the communication speed between the processor and components in the computer.
The main advantage of a notebook computer, versus a desktop, is the size and portability. Due to their smaller size, notebooks are the computer of choice for people that have limited space in their office or home. "A typical notebook computer will contain either an Intel Celeron, Pentium III, or AMD K6 processor, which all range in speed, while the more common speeds vary from 600 MHz to 850 MHz" (PC World, 2000, July, p. 37). The price of a standard notebook computer typically ranges between $1200 to $1900.
Introduced in 1996, handheld computers, also known as Palm Pilots and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), have been gaining in popularity. These devices are portable and are no larger than a palm-size calculator. One of the most popular models on the market today is the Visor, offered in three models, ranging from $149 to $249 (Businessweek Online website, November 15, 1999, p. 192). While the speed of a handheld computer may vary, according to one source, the Palm Vx model runs slightly faster than other handhelds. "It runs with a 20mhz processor versus the 16mhz found in other models" (Palmgear website, 2000). Most palms come with standard applications like an address book, calculator, and a date book. Newer palms will also allow the user e-mail capabilities, using a memo pad similar to the Windows notepad. Since Internet access is now available as an option for handheld computers, they are a viable choice for consumers.
Choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP)
Next, one needs to decide on an Internet Service Provider...