Download (direct link):
You betcha, you will. Here are two important uses for dial-up services:
^ On the road: As we discuss in detail in Part III of this book, when you are on the road, you can't always rely on broadband or wireless being available. Sometimes you need to dial up a connection to the Internet and brave the slow speeds to check e-mail and surf.
^ As backup: Many routers have dial-up backup access built into them in case your broadband connection goes down. Again, as you get hooked on always-on, ubiquitous Internet access, you'll always want to be able to get online, even if it is slow access service.
So, when you buy your broadband service, be sure to see if they have complementary (and complimentary) dial-up service!
Chapter 4: Wi-Fi and Broadband Connections
Dial-up is hard to share. You have to buy extra hardware if you want to easily share a dial-up connection. Only a couple of wireless access points accept dial-up modem connections, and the list gets smaller every year. That makes it much more difficult — although not impossible — to even set up Internet sharing with a dial-up connection. Not only is it difficult to share — but be warned — it may actually cost you more (when you factor in equipment) than just going to broadband.
Broadband is always on. You never get a busy signal, and you never have to wait to dial in — and you never get bumped off the line by an incoming call. ‘Nuf said.
Broadband is fast enough to support a home network. Dial-up bogs down with one user, so imagine four or five.
Broadband supports the applications you’ll want to use on a souped-up wireless network. If you want to share photos, download music and movies, and conduct wireless VoIP conferences, you must have broadband.
We’re not going to spend too much more time convincing you — we suspect that 95 percent of you are already convinced and many probably already have broadband. We hope we’ve converted the 5 percenters. Read on for more information about specific broadband options and how they might interact with your wireless networks.
What to Look for in Broadband Service
Regardless of the media (be it phone lines, airwaves, cable connections or even fiber optic cables), broadband connections all share certain common characteristics and features. As you’re choosing a broadband service to connect your wireless network to the Internet (and to broadband service providers for things like music and movies), you should consider some of the following characteristics:
^ Dynamic IP addresses: Most home broadband connections provide users with what is known as a dynamic IP address (if you’re not familiar with IP addresses, check out the sidebar “IP addresses for me and you” elsewhere in this chapter). The key here is the dynamic part — your IP address changes occasionally. Usually, it doesn’t change very often, but change it does — so you can’t rely on having the same IP address all the time for accessing your home network from remote locations. If you’re planning on running servers on your network that you’ll frequently access remotely (like FTP, Web, or e-mail servers), you may wish to get a fixed IP address (discussed in the next bullet point).
60 Part I: Making Your World Wireless_____________________________________________________________
You can use a dynamic DNS service — like the one at www.dyndns.org — to remotely find your dynamic IP addressed network.
Fixed IP addresses: In some cases, you can get a broadband connection with a fixed IP address — one that never changes, no matter what. This is what you want if your wireless network contains those servers we mentioned previously, or if you want to use certain applications (like some videoconferencing apps) that just work better with a “known” IP address. Expect to pay a bit more to get a fixed IP address.
If your preferred provider offers both fixed and dynamic IP addresses, you can always start off with a dynamic address and a dynamic DNS service, and then upgrade later, if needed.
^ PPPoE: Instead of simply providing your network router or gateway with an IP address, some broadband providers get complicated by using a network protocol or communications system known as PPPoE (or Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet) that requires you to use a special bit of client software and provide a username and password to get your network online. This can be a bit of a pain in the rear end as you need to make sure your router or access point can “talk” PPPoE (check the specifications, it’ll be explicitly listed) and then spend time setting things up. PPPoE used to be a big pain to configure and use with home networks, but today almost all routers can be configured to deal with it in just a few moments’ time, so it’s not something to worry about.
^ Upstream and downstream bandwidth: The big selling point (and marketing focal point) for broadband services is, of course, the speed, or bandwidth, of the connections. Most service providers advertise their downstream connection speed (the speed of the connection from the Internet to your network) pretty heavily, but do not spend as much time discussing the upstream speed (from your network back to the Internet) — mainly because downstream speeds are usually much, much higher. Pay attention to both speeds — ask the question if the upstream speed is not listed.