Davido Digital Solutions

What is the Internet?

The Internet has become an important part of life for many people in Kenya and it is expected that Internet usage will increase significantly in the coming years.

What is the Internet?

The Internet is a worldwide publicly accessible series of interconnected computer networks, which allow users to access resources and information within the network. Essentially, the Internet is a loose confederation of autonomous databases and networks, which was originally developed for academic use, but which now offers a global infrastructure of millions of sites, which are accessible by anyone.

The internet offers wide range of services higher transmission speeds and improved video quality are opening the world to countless possibilities.

Who is an Internet Service Provider (ISP)?

An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company that provides a connection to the Internet alongside a range of Internet services, such as Email, Ecommerce, E-learning and access to the World Wide Web.

Speeds of Connection

Information is sent and received via the Internet at various speeds. These are measured in bits per second (bps), kilobits per second (Kbps) and megabits per second (Mbps).

Methods of Connecting to the Internet.

There are many ways of connecting to the Internet, such as;

1. Via dial-up Internet Access

Dial-up Internet access allows access to the Internet via a conventional telephone line and a modem. It is of use to those who travel and require an easily available cost-effective service for the transmission of small quantities of data. Once the Internet is accessed, the phone line is no longer available to make or receive calls.

The dial-up connection speed for a standard 56k modem can theoretically transfer 56 Kilobits of data a second. To put this into perspective – the average web page (with images) is around 50 Kilobits, so to transfer such a page would take around 7 seconds.

Since some Internet Service Providers charge by the minute for a connection – this can have financial impact. 

Advantages of dial-up connection

Dial-up connections can be economical and are widely available; they use a standard modem, thus hardware costs are minimal.

Disadvantages of dial-up connection

Dial-up connections are very slow. When connected to the internet the same phone line cannot be used for phone calls.

2. Via Digital Leased Line Circuit

A digital leased line circuit is a permanent connection (using cable/ fibre or wireless connection) between two locations typically available at speeds of 64k, 128k, 256k, 512k, 1Mb/s, 2Mb/s.

A high-speed solution, it is the best suited for the use of those requiring high-performance and full-time dedicated access. Most providers offer tariffs for leased lines (Local Loop Fees).

3. Via an Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)

The ISDN offers a digital telephone connection to the ISP at speeds between 64 and 128 Kbps. Faster than the dial-up service, ISDN is significantly more expensive and requires a special modem, ISDN makes use of the conventional telephone line thus allowing the user to make calls and use the Internet simultaneously.

4. Via Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

The DSL service is an ultra-high-speed Internet connection, which also requires a special modem and uses the regular telephone line while allowing simultaneous internet and telephone use. DSL represents a continuous connection to the Internet: it is always in operation and no dial-up is required. A variation of DSL, the Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) offers faster speeds for downloading (up to 1.5 Mbps) than for uploading (128-284 Kbps).

5. Via Cable Internet Service

Some cable television companies provide an Internet connection service, which utilises their cables to deliver a fast, continuous connection (connection speeds range from 500 Kbps to more than 1 Mbps).

The speed of download in relation to cable Internet connections is, however, often faster than the speed of data transmission. Such services are normally offered for a monthly subscription fee (plus an initial fee for the cable modem), and may be cheaper if the consumer is already a client of the cable company in question.

Advantages of cable connections

Cable Internet connection offers high-speed download of large files (music or large attachments). Cable connections transfer data digitally, eliminating any digital/analogue conversion overhead. Cable connections are continually connected – so there is no wait to make a connection.

Disadvantages of cable connections

Cable connections are not available in every neighbourhood. Cable connections are continually connected so firewalls and other security devices are required to protect the computer.

6. Via Wireless Service 

A number of devices allow for connection to the internet without the use of a wired computer connection, and thus allow access from any venue.

Wireless download speeds are relatively slow, though great strides are being made in the relevant technology.Wireless services include: iBurst, WiMax, EDGE and GPRS.

Additional Internet Services A number of additional Internet services are offered, such as;

i. Instant Messaging Services (IMS): Instant messaging services allow users to contact each other directly and more immediately than regular email. They are generally only available to subscribers to the same service.

ii. Subscriber-only Chat Rooms: Chat rooms are online sites where users with similar interests can come together, talk, and communicate with people all over the world. Some ISPs offer online community chat rooms, which are available for use only by subscribers to the same network.

iii. Web Pages: Most ISPs offer to set up web pages at no additional cost (though additional pages are charged separately). The ISPs also often offer Web publishing software so as to make the creation of pages easier.

iv. Anti-Spam Services: ‘Spam’ is unsolicited mass email, which is usually sales-oriented. Many ISPs offer filters, which can be configured by the user so as to prevent ‘spam’ from entering their mailbox.

v. Family Accounts: Some ISPs offer family accounts, which offer additional email boxes and child-protection software. Such accounts allow a number of people in the same household to access the Internet via the same account.

How to Choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP)

The considerations regarding the choice of an ISP include;

a. The degree of access required

This is determined by whether or not the user intends to make frequent use of the Internet, whether they travel, whether they require dedicated access (for many users in one location) or whether they will require to make many or large file transfers.

b. The track-record of the ISP

• What is the ISP’s history with the Internet?

• How many years’ of experience do they have in TCP/IP networking?

• Do they have experience with all aspects of the Internet, such as; network administration, e-mail, ftp, telnet, mailing lists, gopher and programming.

c. The customer service offered by the ISP

• Does the ISP have a strong focus on the customer service?

• Does the ISP understand the access and security requirements of the client?

David Waithera

David Waithera has a passion of sharing knowledge. He holds Bsc in Computer Science from Kisii University, Kenya.

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