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As the internet has expanded in it's usage, so has the quality of data on the net. The original internet was designed as an information super highway for universities to transmit data, it's explosion into general society has seen ever more increasing innovations in it's use. 

Sadly as the internet has evolved the communication systems behind the internet have remained slow to evolve. We shall now discuss some of the communication standards of the internet.

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The conventional method for a computer to communicate with the internet, is based on a computer using a modem device.

The current connection speeds for receiving and transmitting data will depend on your modem speed, this can range from 9, 14, 28, 36, 56 and 90k modems. Most computers come with the 56-90k modems.

Although for basic uses, a 56k modem is fine, when users want to down load a lot of data intensive files such as MP3 and Video files, the transmission speeds can be horrendous.

The problem lies both with the speed of the modem and the connection speed with the internet, by that we mean, although you may have a 56k modem, your connection speed, with the internet may actually be as low as 5k, depending on the quality of service from your service provider.

The conventional method of receiving and transmitting using a standard modem is fine if you want to view text and simple images.

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ISDN stands for Integrated Services Digital Network. In essence ISDN systems work with special modems and usually require a premium monthly charge for the service. ISDN systems run on much improved transmission speeds in comparison to conventional speeds, up to 128K can be achieved, which although, is a big improvement, compared to ADSL it is minute. 

Unfortunately ISDN in the UK and other parts of Europe, never really had much chance of success, the system in comparison to the USA was implemented extremely late, against the benefits of ADSL, it does not look competitive at all. The main benefit would be for a business which is located too far from a telephone exchange for ADSL to be effective.  

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Satellite communication systems are an alternative to using a telephone system, however the cost of setting such a system is very, very high. The system does provide for up to 3MB data transmission, but the information is not generally real time as it needs to be coded then decoded for receiving/transmitting. Not a viable, mass market system!.

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As cable television providers are upgrading their systems from analogue to digital systems, there is a real potential for cable television devices to offer high speed transmissions.

Cable television works quite simply by a direct connection from a local server to peoples homes. As the cable television networks are being upgraded, the communication speeds are being increased rapidly. There is the chance for the system to become established, however cable television in the UK is seen as an expensive alternative to satellite television.

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ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. In essence ADSL is all about giving users much improved connection and transmission speeds.

ADSL is being touted as the always 'on-line' internet connection, which is capable of receiving more information than you can transmit.

For an ADSL system to be effective it needs to be very close to your local telephone exchange system. The current standard in the UK is about 3 1/2 miles, if your telephone service provider is further away, then the transmission speeds although superior to alternative methods will be drastically reduced.

Current problems with ADSL in the UK relate mainly to the network, British Telecom, owns the networks in a near monopolistic manner and as such it tends to release more ADSL lines/slots for it's own business groups as opposed to selling ADSL lines/slots to competitors. The competitors to British Telecom are currently in the process of taking British Telecom to OFTEL complaining about the situation.

Current ADSL systems in the UK have very differing transmission speeds anywhere up to 640k have been reported, again this will depend on where the local telephone exchange system is and the service provided by a telephone company. 

Whilst the transmission (the speed at which you send data) may not be radically high, the speed at which data is received is quite amazing, at present ADSL systems can receive anything up to 2MB of information per second, imagine the information that could be received!, compare downloading an ADSL file at 2MB compared to a 56K modem!. ADSL systems are expected to reach 6MB within the next few years as the system becomes more established.

ADSL is the way forward, just in terms of data transmission, at present it's main target audience will be for industry in larger towns, but with more exchanges around the country being planned, the usage and pricing of ADSL should increase sharply.

The potential market for ADSL is huge, if the system is adopted, the next generation of ADSL related devices will include high quality television receivers where you can receive any television channel from around the world!, real time video conferencing, download MP3 files in 30 seconds rather than 30 minutes, just to name a few!. It's all hype now, but ADSL could well prove to be a reality in the future.

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Invented by Ericsson, the mobile phone giant, Bluetooth is named after famous Danish king Harold Bluetooth, who during the 15th Century tried to unite the Scandinavian countries.

Bluetooth, cannot really be described as a new national communications platform, but more of a local communications network.

To conceptualize the Bluetooth platform, you have to imagine having a computer network in your home which mirrors the one you have at work. 

The way Bluetooth works is by transmitting data between similar devices within a 30ft radius of each other, in essence creating a small network.

Bluetooth devices work with each other by transmitting data in radio waves, currently utilizing a global free frequency. So you could expect one device to connect with another device anywhere in the world. In essence it could lead to a cradle to grave scenario, of being tracked throughout your life! 

Bluetooth devices in the planning stage, cover simple cards for laptop computers; cable free computer terminals in the shape of clipboards which enable connection to the internet; PDA's which again give access to the internet; even watches which send out alarm signals to let you know if your children leave your house; internet fridges and microwaves; even bluetooth devices inside car tyre's which send out signals when the tread on the tyre's become too warn!; the potential is enormous!

Bluetooth devices are going to be really big in the near future, expect an amazing 1.5 BILLION (YES BILLION!) devices to be in circulation.

It may not offer any new lighting fast communication for the internet, but it does present the possibility of internet communication anywhere in the world.

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ISDN is certainly a much faster improved internet connection speed than the conventional 56K modem standard, but in comparison to ADSL is appears relatively out-dated.

ADSL does provide for an amazing transmission potential, currently the prohibitive costs of equipment and connection prevents many users from accessing the system. Until we see ADSL becoming the de-facto cheap standard, it's usage will remain in the domain of medium to large industry. The price of the system will fall, but it does need to be as soon as possible!. 

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Click the Hyperlinks below to get further information on the topics discussed:

ADSL Forum ADSL Community
BT ADSL British Telecom ADSL services

Satellite systems

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(c)  Est 08/00 - Last Updated 28/05//2001