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ISP Road Trip

Connecting to your ISP

The first movement of your index finger causes your modem to dial into your I.S.P.'s Point Of Presence (POP), where it negotiates a connection (a "handshake") with a modem in a bank of them like the one pictured below (front and back).

modem bank
Back of modem bank
88kb enlargement
modem bank
Front of modem bank
78kb enlargement

In order to provide a high level of service, it's my understanding that, ideally, an I.S.P. has one modem for every 6 to 7 customers. Usage studies have apparently shown that allows most users to log in when they wish, as no I.S.P. expects all of their customers to be online at the same time. When that ratio rises to, say, one modem for every 10 customers, users find they often get busy signals, especially at peak times.

Redback server
Redback server for DSL
44kb enlargement

But not everyone connects via a dial-up modem. Some, like me, are lucky enough to connect by a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL). These connections can allow speeds of up to 150 kilobytes per second, as opposed to the 5 kilobytes per second one might get with a good 56k dial-up modem connection. This bandwidth vortex is likely what caused the picture at left to come out slightly fuzzy. If you connect via Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE), it's possible you authenticate and connect through a Redback server like the one shown.

OK, we're logged in, let's check e-mail and do some surfing....

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