Most people connect to the Internet using a modem, a device that connects your PC to a standard voice phone line. Almost every modern computer comes with a built-in, preinstalled modem.
On the other hand, nearly half of all Internet-connected computer fans now use much faster gear called cable modems and DSL. These contraptions offer several gigantic advantages over dial-up modems. For example:
Speed. These modems operate at 5 to 50 times the speed of a traditional dial-up modem. For example, you might wait 5 minutes to download a 2 MB file with a standard modem—a job that would take about 10 seconds with a cable modem. And complex Web pages that take almost a minute to appear in your browser with a standard modem will pop up almost immediately with a cable modem or DSL.
No dialing. These fancier connection methods hook you up to the Internet permanently, full time, so that you don’t waste time connecting or disconnecting—ever. You’re always online.
No weekends lost to setup. Best of all, there’s no need to do any of the setup yourself. A representative from the phone company or cable company generally comes to your home or office to install the modem and configure Windows XP to use it. If you sign up for a cable modem, the cable TV company pays you a visit, supplies the modem, installs a network card into your PC, and sets up the software for you.
Possible savings. At this writing, cable modems and DSL services cost about $30 to $50 a month. ...