A-Z Index of IT Support
Fast broadband connections to the web are becoming economical and commonplace. IT support get many questions along the lines of service provider recommendations and which sort of connection/modem to use, this guide should help with some of these queries.
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ADSL or Cable?
The first decision to make is whether you want to go for a cable (optical fibre) or ADSL (telephone line) connection. Cable connections have the potential to be much faster than ADSL, but there is restricted coverage. At the time of writing, cable packages are available from Virgin, Sky, BT and Plusnet to name just a few
If you can get a cable connection, you will need to deal with the supplier directly regarding connection hardware, type of internet package etc.
The supplier may only allow a single piece of equipment to be registered directly on their cable modem. You cannot swap the connection quickly from one computer to another. Therefore, if you ever wish to have more than one computer use the connection, you are strongly advised to install a local broadband router. This has the added bonus of providing a basic level of firewall protection. Contact IT Support for recommendations.
3Com, D-Link, Linksys and Netgear all offer reputable products. Note that you do NOT want a combined ADSL modem / router. These are for telephone line ADSL based connections only.
For detailed technical information about cable modems, see Robin Walker's Cable Modem pages http://homepage.ntlworld.com/robin.d.h.walker. This site includes a section on routers http://homepage.ntlworld.com/robin.d.h.walker/cmtips/homelan.html
How do I Connect to ADSL?
To connect to ADSL, you will need to choose a provider (see next step) who will assess the quality of your telephone line and, assuming it is OK, activate ADSL for your house. A detailed explanation of line quality is available from http://freeola.com/line-test/
You will need an ADSL modem. The USB type that are usually given away by service providers are NOT recommended for a number of reasons. You are strongly advised to get an ethernet modem/router type device, please contact IT support for recommendations.
ADSL uses a special high-frequency signal down your phone line which doesn't interfere with normal telephone calls. You will, however, need to plug in a small splitter type device (called a micro filter) to your normal telephone socket which will separate out the broadband and telephone signals to two separate sockets. If your house has a number of telephone sockets, you are recommended to put a micro filter on each telephone socket you use.Detailed ADSL setup guidance
For a detailed comparison of ADSL providers, please visit www.moneysavingexpert.com.
Also worth looking at are: http://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk/student-broadband.html
An ADSL or cable broadband connection can be shared for multiple computers in your house by means of a wireless network. Most routers are configured by a web browser and may have a "wizard" to set up such a network. Once wireless networking is enabled, however, you put yourself in the position of other people in the vicinity of your house being able to use your connection for their purposes or maybe even do malicious things to your computer(s)
A good starting point for securing your home wireless network is available at http://www.connectedhomemag.com/HomeControls/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=49176
In addition, some quick security points to consider are as follows:
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