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).
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.
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....