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Posted: 11:18 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010

Internet Access Glossary

Clark's list of internet technology terms



I talk about the various ways to access the Internet often on the show. I want to make sure that you understand the basic terms I use to describe the most popular options. Here's a  glossary of terms you'll hear me mention regularly.

DSL/Naked DSL
If you want your Internet from a phone company, you traditionally had to purchase a landline as a prerequisite. The phone monopolies thought they were smart pushing obsolete landline technology on consumers who want modern DSL.   But there is another option called "naked DSL."  The term was originally coined by Qwest to describe high-speed Internet access without a landline. AT&T has rolled out naked DSL trial service -- priced between $20 and $24 -- in Chicago; Austin, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida and elsewhere. Meanwhile, if you were with BellSouth before the AT&T takeover, the latter is now required to offer naked DSL in 22 states as part of the buyout agreement.

Cable modem
This method of getting online requires you to pay a monopoly cable company for access. Cable modems typically appeal to slightly younger customers who grew up in the cell phone age and aren't comfortable with having a landline to get Internet access. Cable modems are typically faster than DSL, but your results may vary. This is usually one of the priciest options with the cost varying widely by region.

Wi-Fi & hotspots
Wi-Fi is a wireless way to connect to the Internet that's offered in many public places such as coffeehouses and restaurants. Any venue or place that offers Wi-Fi is referred to as a "hotspot."

Clearwire/WiMAX
I've been a big fan of blanketing metro areas with high-speed wireless signals as a way of breaking up the stranglehold that monopoly companies have on the Internet. One company, Clearwire, typically costs about $24 a month and requires no installation.

Over the next 18 months, most midsized cities will have this ultra high-speed Internet option. In fact, it's already up and running in Baltimore and Chicago. Clearwire recently partnered with Sprint Nextel to use their WiMAX technology for major expansion across the country.

EVDO/HSPA
There is another way to access the Internet that people may not know about. It's called EVDO (Evolution Data Optimized) and it's currently being offered through Sprint and Verizon. With EVDO, you have a small external USB modem that you plug into your laptop wherever you are. Pricing ranges from the cost of cable modem to as high as $60, but you can use it both at home and on the road. Network speeds are usually comparable to DSL.

AT&T is offering a similar service called HSPA (High Speed Packet Access). It's said to offer the fastest wireless network speed to date.

Both of these options completely eliminate the need to be in a hotspot. Now the Internet is truly mobile!