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[Part 2 of 7]

Connecting via a Regular Modem

For some small networks, an Internet connection via a single, ordinary 56K modem is an acceptable compromise between cost on one hand and performance and convenience on the other.

If several people want to use the network Internet connection at the same time, only the first person to connect must wait through the dial-up and authentication process. After a connection is established, anyone on the network can access it without waiting. After the last person finishes accessing the Internet, the connection is broken and the modem is idle.

Speed

Today's fastest modems can receive information at 56.6 Kbps (kilobits per second), although it's not unusual for a 56K modem to reduce its speed significantly. What's more, a 56K modem is limited to 33.6 Kbps for outgoing data.

As the computers on a network access the same modem connection at the same time, everybody's access will become noticeably and ruefully slower. If yours is the only computer connected to the Internet, you'll get access to the modem's entire 56.6 Kbps. But after a second person connects to the Internet via the same modem, you have to share that 56.6 Kbps. If five people simultaneously engage in high-traffic activities such as downloading files or visiting Web sites, everyone gets an average of 11.2 Kbps from the one modem, which is pretty pokey.

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