For any of you that have been on the Internet recently, you may of noticed that it is seems surprisingly slow. You’d have thought that in the 21st Century, when our computers are now thousands of times faster than they were only 15 years ago that we’d have come up with something far more inventive than the sluggish 56k modem to connect to the Internet with.

You see, even though adverts for processors such as the Pentium 4 make claims that the Internet will be faster than ever before if you buy their product, this idea falls down quite quickly when you consider that your speed to the Internet will still be stuck at the incredibly low speed of your modem.

There are several alternatives to this speed restriction which are slowly becoming available and it’s these which I plan to discuss today.

Option 1: BT Home Highway –
BT Home Highway is powered by ISDN which allows you to have three numbers in total for your household, although you can only use a maximum of two of these lines at any one time. This allows you to make a call on one line whilst using the other line to either go on the Internet or to allow someone else in the household to make a second phone call.

The main advantage is that the line that is designated for data is capable of transferring information at 128kbps digitally which works out about 3 times faster than a 56kbps analogue modem. Most people using this service stick to the standard 64kbps speed as this means that they can still use the second line free of charge and can make use of one of the many ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) that allow you to dial up a freephone number for a monthly subscription.

In terms of pricing, BT Home Highway currently costs around £75 for a conversion from an existing BT line and then £24 per month total line rental for all three lines. This £24 per month includes £2.80 worth of free calls every month.

Home Highway isn’t available in all areas of the county so you are advised to give BT a call to check availability in your area and it might be necessary for an engineer to pop by to confirm that you can receive the service.

Option 2: BT ADSL –
ADSL is a much faster technology than ISDN as you can get incoming data speeds up to 500kbps, although it’s availability around Torbay is very limited due to the massive delays in rolling out the new service across the UK.
Those lucky enough to be in an ADSL covered area will be looking at paying around £150 to convert from a standard or ISDN BT phone line and then a monthly line rental of £39.99 per month. This is obviously the more expensive way of getting online, especially when you consider that unlike Home Highway, you only get one number. The service is justified when you consider that for the time being, this is the fastest but still practical way of getting online. On top of these charges, you will also have to pay your call charges unless you get an un-metered, subscription based ISP such as BT Internet.

There are a number of other service providers willing to offer you similar services to BT, such as NTL or Eurobell however there are a few drawbacks regarding these that you should be made aware of. Principally, Eurobell is not supported by many of the un-metered ISP’s such as BT Internet or Freeserve which means that you will have to pay for your call costs whilst you’re connected which could soon mount up if you spend a moderate amount of time online. NTLs service is good nationwide although seems to be very restricted in the southwest.

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