Here at EE Times we may be led to believe that everyone has high-speed internet access. Let me tell you though, high-speed is a relative term.
Chances are, we all started with dialup Internet access in the 1990s. The thought that there are people who still use it makes us scratch our heads and wonder why, but it's true. Some people refuse to get higher speed for a variety of reasons.
Take my father-in-law. He was quite happy paying $5 a month for Juno, a dialup internet service. But it drove his daughter and her husband a little crazy. Why? Because whenever Grandpa went online, his home phone was busy. I mentioned to him several times that he could get high-speed (1 Mbit/s) internet access that's always on for $15 a month, but he didn't want to pay for it.
This year, we had enough. For his birthday, we gave him a DSL phone-line filter and told him that we'd sign him up and pay for the first year. He reluctantly agreed. Last weekend, I went to his house to install the DSL modem. To my surprise, the modem connected right away. Now all I had to do was connect it to Grandpa's Windows XP computer and do a little setup, or so I thought.
First came installing the DSL filters. You just plug the phone's RJ-11 connector into the filter and plug the filter into wall. Simple, right?
Not if you have a wall phone.
The kitchen phone is on the wall with a long coiled cord to the handset. No need for a cordless phone, but there was no way to hide the filter behind the phone and attach the phone back to the wall. Grandpa could live with that so we put the phone on the kitchen counter. There was enough room.
Next came the Windows setup. The instructions were unclear at best and downright confusing at worst. We did get it to work, but it took a call to DSL Extreme
tech support, which is very busy on weekends. All I had to do was set up a new connection in Windows and we had connectivity.
Grandpa was impressed. But he didn't believe me when I told him that he could now use his phone and connect to the internet at the same time. I not only had to call his landline, but leave a message on his answering machine.
Before leaving, I rebooted the computer. Now we had a problem, for it was no longer connected to the DSL. I found the connection icon I had created in Windows, clicked on it, and the connection was restored. At this point, I was running out of time, so I created a shortcut on his desktop. He just had to right click on the shortcut after booting and click "connect," but he shouldn't have to. I suggested that he call tech support on Monday when they're less busy. He did and they walked him through how to set up an IP address (instructions said to use DHCP to acquire an IP address automatically). Now, he just boots his computer and he's online. Grandpa is happy. "It's so fast," he said.
You see, high-speed is a relative term. But, will Grandpa pay the $15 a month next year? I believe he will.
— Martin Rowe, Senior Technical Editor