In the fall of 1998, I receieved a flyer from USWest (our phone company) introducing DSL service in our area. I had heard about DSL a couple of years earlier (when I was shopping for ISDN equipment), but it simply wasn't available yet.
The deal USWest was offering simply couldn't be beat. So, I signed up. I've been VERY happy ever since.
What, you may ask, is DSL? Well, DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. What it does is it allows your existing standard analog phone line (yes, those two measly little pieces of copper) to piggyback data at speeds from 256 kbps to 7 Mbps (for reference, a T1 line provides 1.5 Mbps), all without interfering with your POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). Yes, you heard right -- no changes to your analog wiring, making it ideal for apartment dwellers.
How does DSL acheive this? Beats the hell outta me. Go visit xDSL.com and read their FAQs for more technical information.
Did I mention that this is a dedicated connection? Yep, no busy signals -- ever. Your connection goes directly to your ISP, full-time. In our area, there are a number of ISPs offering DSL service, including USWest. If you're in USWest-land, I urge you to connect up with a well-connected local ISP, not USWest. Do not let USWest muscle their way into the ISP business. You will usually get more features on your account and more personal service for about the same money from a local ISP. (Note: sadly, this no longer seems to be true in my area. I have been unable to find any local ISPs who can offer me the features I want for anything approaching US West's price, plus many local ISPs are getting bought up by larger corporations... sigh.)
So, I signed up.
Unlike ISDN, xDSL was a piece of cake from day one. The ordering procedure went smoothly. The people at USWest that I spoke with were knowledgable. The equipment (except for the phone) arrived about a week before the line was activated. The activation went off without a hitch on the other end. My end was easy, too. I opened the box, read the quick start guide, and five minutes later had a 256k Internet connection working (since upgraded for free to 640k).
Oh, and did I mention that it's cheaper than ISDN? I pay $50/month for unlimited 640k DSL (including my ISP). I was paying $120/month for 200 channel-hours of 64/128k ISDN service. Admittedly, ISDN gave me two additional POTS lines when I wasn't online, but I didn't need them. So, now I have four times the speed for half the price.
So, here are the details of my DSL story, which should be particularly useful to someone running Windows NT Workstation 4.0 or Windows 98 using a dynamically assigned IP address and multiple computers, especially if they happen to be in US West territory. This is what worked for me. Your mileage may vary.
Page created 12/28/98 by firstname.lastname@example.org.
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