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Mystery line to house offers a sweet deal on Internet access

Published on October 15, 1999
Ghost written by David Southgate for Doug Berg,
Techies.Com President and Chief Techie

The future's just down the pipeline as DSL comes to the SOHO

Since DSL came to my house, I've gotten to know that seductive bit of wound copper wire quite well. For a few weeks, I ran my lawnmower around its snaky length, careful not to nick its tender conduit. Now that it's draped over two maple trees in my yard, my family, neighbors, and local squirrels have been able to appreciate it, too.

My daughter says, "What's that line, Daddy? Can I swing on it?" "No, sweetie, you don't swing on it. It's the fastest Internet access anywhere, faster than that of most companies."

My wife thought it was cable, but it goes right into the phone box, not the cable box. So I know it's for my computer. As of this writing, Covad, the Onvoy partner that's doing my wiring and installation, is scheduled to hook the service up to the back of my computer. At 768 Kbps downstream and 384 Kbps upstream, I'll be hitting the Net at amazing speeds - 50 times faster than most modems, twelve times the velocity of a typical ISDN.

Add live access 24/7, two email addresses, a static IP, and 5MB of Web storage, and the deal looks pretty sweet to me.

Thank you, Congress

Thanks to the efforts of Congress and the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which opened up local competition for telephone service, Onvoy's been able to set up shop in my metro area, along with U S West, which also provides DSL service. And thanks to a $50 million deal with Soros Private Equity, Onvoy, formerly MRNet - the oldest ISP in the Twin Cities - can now offer HyperLink, the name of their DSL service for the home.

So once all the household hype has died down and the folks from Covad figure out how to bury that wire that's now waving in the breeze, what are my expectations? Well, I'm looking forward to setting up a SOHO - that's short for Small Office/Home Office, no relation to New York's Silicon Alley. I'll be able to do video conferencing with businesses across the United States. Lookout, NetMeeting - here I come. And sluggish document sharing will be so 1998.

It won't be all work, though. I'll get sound and video feeds from multimedia providers like CNN and RealNetwork. No more waiting as music "buffers" and stutters through my RealPlayer. As I step into the millennium with my newfangled connection, maybe I'll even be able to order videos on demand, avoiding the cruel winter drive to and from my local Blockbuster.

It keeps getting better

The cool thing about technology is that it never stops getting better. Now DSL connects me to the Web, I'm poised to realize the future promises of Internet2 (I2) and Next Generation Internet (NGI) efforts, when the technological benefits trickle down to consumers.

Launched in February 1999, I2 currently connects more than 150 universities in a network for academic research and education. The venture is a fine example of public-private partnerships, combining the powers of 3Com, AT&T, Ameritech, Cisco Systems, and Microsoft, to name a few. People are experimenting with telemedicine, digital libraries, and virtual laboratories - things you can't do effectively on today's Internet.

NGI is being spearheaded by government agencies and is working in tandem with development and technology efforts of I2 to make sure technologies have interoperability for advanced use.

The Internet2 Project Web site says future Internet innovations may come from the these initiates from academia and the government, just as in the past. Rather than replace the current collection of ISPs, backbones, and nodes, however, the Internet of the future will be built on top of current infrastructure. In the 21st century, these benefits will be realized by commercial ventures and consumers. And when that happens, I'll be there ready to surf the future with my DSL. Now if we can just keep my daughter from swinging on that high wire.

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david southgate
writing for living.