Friday, June 16, 2000

George Mindling Column 6-16-2000

On Line All the Time


While not everyone in Charlotte County is waiting for the new, high speed Internet access methods to arrive, many small businesses and offices are. One reason the new digital subscriber lines (DSLs) and cable modems are in high regard with small businesses beside speed is they are "always on." A business, a home office, or even your kids can have a 2417 Web site without the expense of dedicated, leased high-speed trunk access. It won't be a "dot.com" type of operation, but it will be online all the time.

Any personal computer running Windows 98 can be a server by using the Personal Web Server program which is included, but not automati­cally instal1ed, on every Windows 98 CD/ROM. There are even free server programs, such as Apache, and the Back Office or other NT packages from Microsoft, for a fee.

There are pitfalls, such as the lack of "firewalls," which must be addressed if a PC is to be used in this manner. If you don't take security precautions, your PC will be guaranteed a visit from the dark side of the Web. You will be the target of someone you don't want on your hard drives if you don't take precautions. That is a given.

While being "on the air" with your Web site is a new realm for most small businesses, it can be a valuable sales or operating tool. One 24/7 method is called DSL. Digital Subscriber Lines, DSL, is a whole family of digital access methods that can use your already installed telephone lines. Sprint DSL is already available in certain parts of Punta Gorda.

Sprint's FastConnect service will come in one of two offerings: first is 512Kbps/128Kbps for $52.99, or the second at 1.5Mbps/384Kbps for $109.99. The first number is the download speed and the second number is the upload speed. It is an asymmetrical service, unequal transmit and receive speeds, hence the acronym ADSL. Also available in the future in Charlotte County will be Earthlink's DSL, which is a partnership with Sprint. As with Sprint, there is a $200 dollar charge for the attaching equipment and a one-time installation fee of $130.00. Go to
http://csb.sprint.com/servet/DslRouter/dsl_launch?State=Florida to see if your telephone can handle DSL.

If it's not listed, call 1-877-6GO-DATA, press 2, then 1, ask to have your line measured for DSL (Sprint).

If you plan on using the telephone on the same number as the DSL service, a filter must also be installed for the telephone. The recent weekend business supplement in the Miami paper had no less than four competitive ads for DSL service from different vendors, an offering competitive sign up packages and rates.

However, I live in what we call ''Westport,'' between Murdock and North Port. We won't get any DSL for at least six more months. Keep the tin cans and wax strings taught, folks, they're not here yet.


George Mindling © 2000

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