What is a Modem?

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The word 'Modem' is a contraction of the words Modulator-Demodulator. It is typically used to send digital data over a phone line.

The sending modem modulates the digital data from the computer into a signal that is compatible with the phone line and the receiving one demodulates the signal back into digital data.

A modem allows computer terminals all over the world to communicate with each other over phone lines and TV cable.

You need a modem to be connected to the Internet

To get connected, you need to do so through an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Check out my cheap Internet Provider guide here.

Being connected to the Internet allows you to:

  • Do shopping online.
  • Pay bills online.
  • Be able to view your bank and credit card statements online.
  • Send and receive emails thereby reducing the need for making expensive telephone calls.
  • Send and receive faxes.
  • Communicate with family and friends via a messenger service thus reducing your telephone bills.
  • Communicate via webcam and be able to see and hear your family and friends.
  • By connecting a headset to your soundcard, your computer can be used like a telephone to communicate long distance and internationally thereby reducing your telephone bills.
  • Fill out required applications via the Internet.
  • Search for and read articles of interest.

The standard Internet connections using modems are Narrow-band/Phone-line dialup, DSL and Cable.

  • Narrow Band/Dial-Up Connections:

    These connections at one stage use to be the standard but this eventually gave way to a faster and more efficient standard called Broadband Internet.

    This old system is still used in certain remote areas because of the unavailability of Broadband and by some individuals due to its comparatively low cost.

    This system is slow especially when downloading files and also inconvenient if there are no separate dedicated lines for Internet and home telephone.

    This uses your telephone line to connect to the Internet. A standard modem with a maximum speed of 56K is used and a telephone number is dialed to establish an Internet connection.

    There are two (2) types:

    • Internal
    • External

      Internal:
      This is a type of adapter card which fits in a PCI slot on the motherboard.

      External:
      This is a stand-alone unit that plugs into a serial, ethernet or USB port. It can be moved from one computer to another and connected to your computer without removing the computer case.

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    The advantage of this type of service is its wide availabilty and cost.

    The disadvantages are slow speed and, unless you are using a dedicated telephone line, calls could be missed while connected to the Internet. Because of this problem, there is an added cost if you opt for a dedicated line.

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  • DSL Connection:

    DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) modem uses your regular telephone line and provides fast Internet access. Connection is 'Always On'.

    The advantage of this type of modem is being able to use your telephone while being connected to the Internet; hence, there is no need for a dedicated line. This is possible because this technology is not only limited to voiceband audio frequencies and uses coded orthoganal frequency division modulation (DMT) which enables multiple bands of frequencies on the same telephone line.

    DSL is still not available everywhere.

  • Cable Connection:

    This connection, like the DSL, is extremely fast but does not use a telephone line. Connection is provided through your Cable TV company and is 'Always On'.

    Cable modems use the range of frequencies that were intended for RF television channels. This principle uses multiple cable modems connected to a main cable from the signal source on the same frequency band.

    A low-level media access protocol enables multiple modems to function together on the same channel. Frequency division multiple access keeps the up and down signals separate.

    In comparison to dial-up modems, Broadband modems are more advanced because they are capable of modulating/demodulating hundreds of channels at the same time.

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Conclusion .....

We have described some different types of modems available for Internet connection.

We do hope that you found this guide informative.



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