Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shop For DSL and Other Broadband Options Easily

Are you sick and tired of your intermittent broadband? Or worse, your interminably slow dial-up Internet access? Well, you couldn't have picked a better time to go shopping for new DSL and other broadband options.

Shop For DSL, the trailblazing online search tool, has just been upgraded to make it more comprehensive and easier to use. In case you missed all the hubbub, Shop For DSL is a real-time automated search engine that specifically goes out and finds broadband options for your particular location and then displays them in categories so you can consider them at your leisure.

The fact that the service is location specific is what makes it effective. Most broadband options, including the very popular DSL and Cable broadband Internet access, are highly location specific. In other words, your neighbor across the street may be hooked up but you can't be. The reverse is also true. Why is that? It's because the ability to get service depends on the buildout of the providers' physical plant. There needs to be a wire running past your home or business with a connection box nearby. If so, a technician can bring a service "drop" inside and hookup the appropriate modem.

Modem? Yes, they're still called modems even when they run on a Cable TV line or telephone line connection. But internally, these modems have completely different circuitry from dial-up modems. A dial-up modem converts digital computer signals into analog tones that mimic the voice characteristics of a telephone set. It fools the phone system into carrying computer data even though the telephone company equipment was designed a hundred years ago for voice only. A DSL or Cable Modem dispenses with the low frequency audio tones. DSL uses higher frequencies that ride above the voice band and aren't heard on your telephone line. A Cable Modem mimics a TV channel so it can be carried on the Cable TV lines. The end result is that both DSL and Cable broadband services are orders of magnitude faster than any dial-up service.

There's also another type of broadband that's available just about anywhere in the USA, including areas out in the boonies that aren't built-out for DSL or Cable. That's satellite broadband service. It uses a dish, just like your satellite TV service, but both transmits and receives to give you two way Internet access. Speeds are comparable to the lower-end DSL or Cable broadband services, somewhere between 1 Mbps and 2 Mbps. This compares favorable with T1 dedicated Internet access, the standard for small and medium size businesses. If you mostly browse the Web and use e-mail, you'll probably do just fine with satellite broadband. It's really not for high bandwidth activities like downloading movies or low-latency applications such as VoIP.

Another thing the new Shop for DSL service does is find bundled services for you. The telephone and cable companies are at each other's throats to garner new customers and hold on to their existing ones. This competition is especially good for consumers who are now being offered "bundles" of broadband, television and telephone services for a lower price than you would pay to buy them separately. The Shop for DSL results will show you double plays (2 services) and triple plays (3 services) that you qualify for.

So what does it take to qualify? Got a minute? I mean, got a minute literally? It might not even take that long. All you need to do is enter some quick information into the search box at Shop For DSL, select residential or business application, and click the "step 2" button. The automated search process will query databases of service provider offerings, select only those that your address is qualified for, and present them on a results page organized by type of service. I just ran my home address and found 32 different offers. A few of these I knew about because I've gotten offers in the mail. But the rest I wasn't aware of. For a free broadband search service, this really can't be beat.

Note that both business and residential users can access the Shop For DSL search feature. If your business is beyond what DSL or Cable can do for you, I'd recommend business specific search services for Metro Ethernet and high bandwidth copper and fiber optic line services.

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