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What do I need to get DSL?

Old 05-11-02, 11:00 AM
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What do I need to get DSL?

My family is looking to upgrade to DSL, and I'm not sure if their computer is ready for it. Prepare for hideously dumb questions:

What type of modem does it run on? (i.e., will they be using the phone plugin anymore)
Would the DSL come with its own modem? (if so, does THAT modem require anything special?)
Do they need a network card? (if so, why?)
Do they need a USB port? (if so, why?)


We're not DSL/cablemodem/internet savvy around here, so any help would be appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 05-11-02, 11:26 AM
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A DSL modem (really a router, but I'll just call it a modem because that's how it is commonly refered to) can be provided to you by the telephone company. Internal and external modems are available.

For an internal modem, you just need a free PCI card slot and probably need to be running Windows because of the drivers.

For an external modem, you'll need a network card in your computer and this means you can run any operating system. I have an external Cisco DSL modem that doesn't have a USB connection, but I don't know if this is the case for all external modems.

External modems cost $100 more then an internal modem, but the external modem will work with any operating system and can also be hooked up to a router and then multiple computers through that one connection.
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Old 05-11-02, 01:38 PM
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Originally posted by UWSarge
A DSL modem (really a router, but I'll just call it a modem because that's how it is commonly refered to) can be provided to you by the telephone company. Internal and external modems are available.

For an internal modem, you just need a free PCI card slot and probably need to be running Windows because of the drivers.

For an external modem, you'll need a network card in your computer and this means you can run any operating system. I have an external Cisco DSL modem that doesn't have a USB connection, but I don't know if this is the case for all external modems.

External modems cost $100 more then an internal modem, but the external modem will work with any operating system and can also be hooked up to a router and then multiple computers through that one connection.
Forgive my ignorance, but what is the difference between a PCI card slot and a network card? (If they're completely different, how?)

Does the external DSL modem/router simply connect to the network card and then magically work?
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Old 05-11-02, 01:49 PM
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Originally posted by Toad


Forgive my ignorance, but what is the difference between a PCI card slot and a network card? (If they're completely different, how?)

Does the external DSL modem/router simply connect to the network card and then magically work?
A PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) slot is just the connection type for your cards (Sound cards, modems, network cards, dvd decoders, etc) on your motherboard. So, a network card would probably be installed into one of these slots.

If using an external DSL modem, you'll have some settings that will need to be set in Windows. It could be as simple as setting the network to DHCP (where an IP address is automatically configured for you) or where you have to configure it for a static IP address. In either case, the ISP will tell you what to do to configure it.

Note: Your ISP may not necessarily be your phone company. The line will probably be from the phone company, but for most people, you'll have several choices as to who to get internet service from.
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Old 05-11-02, 01:51 PM
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You might also take a look at DSL reports for information on DSL at http://www.dslreports.com/ and in particular http://www.dslreports.com/faq (look at the DSL 101 section)
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Old 05-11-02, 10:56 PM
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You probably want to find out/decide who will be providing your DSL service and talk to them about the equipment needs.

Our local telephone company provides VDSL (internet and television) service. Part of the signing up deal was free installation including the external modem and network card. All I had to do was sit back and let them do all the work.

Of course we were in the very fortunate position of having both the telephone company introducing VDSL and the cable company offering cable internet service. This is in a town of 25,000 people!
They are competing for customers and we win since both offer free installation, first month free, next two months at half-price.

Last fall I had both services installed and running (at no cost to me) to decide which I wanted to keep.
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Old 05-13-02, 10:17 AM
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Thanks for your responses. One of the other things noted on the website I looked at is an ethernet modem. Do you guys with DSL also/have to use this?

My laptop has 2 network or card slots where I assume I would put a wireless network card when I do get one for school. It also has 2 USB ports, and what looks to me like 2 phone ports. However, one of the 2 is larger ---- could this be an ethernet modem inside, i.e. could I just plug in DSL to that oulet and run with it?

Thanks again.

Last edited by Toad; 05-13-02 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 05-13-02, 11:17 AM
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the two "phone jacks": the bigger one is an ethernet jack. you have an ethernet card built-in on your laptop. you would still need a modem in order to connect to DSL.

DSL signal comes into your house on the phone wire. the DSL "modem" (which will almost certainly be provided for you by the DSL provider) grabs that signal off the phone wire and then outputs it either via ethernet (which is then connected to either a router or one of the computers), or USB (which is connected directly to one computer). generally, if you want to share the connection to multiple computers, ETHERNET is easier to network with.

Each computer will need (in order to connect to the internet) an ethernet card. (which, as noted above, plugs into a PCI slot on a desktop. your laptop already has ethernet and doesn't need anything additional unless you want to go wireless, then you'd need a wireless PCMCIA card).

none of the computers will use the current dialup modems anymore.

I'm confused about how many computers there are in the household, but if you are considering going wireless at some point, I would really suggest getting a DSL modem with ETHERNET connections, then getting a WIRELESS router and wireless card for the laptop. then all computers can simulataneously connect (laptop wirelessly, the other computers through ethernet from the router).

another consideration, although less important, is whether you want a print server included in the router. it can be handy so that any computer can print without having to go turn on another computer.
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Old 05-13-02, 03:15 PM
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I'm sorry, I didn't mean to confuse you. I will be getting a wireless card when I start law school in a few months -- it was pretty irrelevant.

For the purposes of keeping it simple - you're saying that I'm okay as far as connecting with DSL once we get that DSL modem, which should come with the whole package. (In which case, I'll run line from phone jack on wall to DSL moden, then from modem to my 10/100 ethernet jack).

Now, if my parents also want to get on, I assume they'll have to get something more: they have no USB slots or network cards. If they do have a free PCI slot, can they just buy the network card and go from there?

Thanks so much.

Last edited by Toad; 05-13-02 at 03:18 PM.
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