Nine reasons why you need broadband

I've already given you the nine warning signs that broadband--DSL or cable modem--isn't right for you. But how do you know if it's just the thing you need?

I've already given you the nine warning signs that broadband--DSL or cable modem--isn't right for you. But how do you know if it's just the thing you need?

Last week, a surprising 55 percent of readers responding to my poll said they are already using a broadband connection--DSL or cable modem, most likely--to connect to the Internet. Another 15 percent said they were considering the switch.

This week I want to address the 30 percent who are on the fence or who said what they're using right now--a dial-up modem--is just fine. To that end, I offer a new set of warning signs indicating that your current Internet connection is too slow. And on Monday I will offer some shopping tips for first-time broadband buyers.

Is broadband right for you? YES

So here are my nine signs that broadband is right for you:

  1. You want your telephone line back! This was suggested by a reader who can't use the phone because the kids are always using the line to connect to the Internet. DSL is delivered over your existing phone line--without interfering with your dial tone--so they can surf while you talk on the phone and vice versa. Cable modems, of course, give you an Internet connection without using a phone line at all.

  2. You want to surf while the kids surf. Sharing a single computer is no fun. Especially when you can easily connect two computers together and share a single Internet connection. The easy way to do this is with Windows Me (more on this Monday).

  3. You are into video. If you want to do the videophone thing with the relatives (or strangers, for that matter), a broadband connection greatly speeds things up. You can get a decent-size picture and less-jerky video when you have a fast line between you and the other person.

  4. You are into music. Good audio still requires big files, and big files take a long time to download at slow connect speeds. This may be a good thing if you are trying to limit the amount of stuff your kids download, but if they are going to be spending all night on the computer trying to get the latest pop tunes, why not give them a fast connection so they can at least accomplish something? And maybe get to sleep sooner.

  5. You are into pictures. Getting the drift here? Photos can be big, too.

  6. You want to do two things at once. Like listen to Internet radio while you visit some other Web sites. The more bandwidth you have, the better the experience will be--music and fast surfing can be yours.

  7. You are running a business. People who get a lot of e-mail, upload pages to their Web sites, and download a bunch of files, all while trading instant messages with three friends--as I am doing while I write this--waste a lot of time waiting for stuff to happen. A fast computer and a fast connection save time and money.

  8. You want to host your own Web site, have a server, or so forth. Yes, you can get all this from third parties and probably for less than you can do it yourself. But some people really like running their own servers--I am working on a review of small business servers right now--and to do this you need a full-time connection. More on this Monday.

  9. You are just generally sick of waiting. Broadband connections are always there, meaning no more dialing and no more busy signals. That alone is enough of a selling point for many people.

If you haven't read my column from last Friday, aimed at reassuring the dial-up modem generation that they really are OK, you should. That piece is the other side of the coin, and you should consider those points before you invest in a high-speed Internet connection.

I'll give you the weekend to think about it and will be back on Monday with some tips for choosing your broadband connection and the hardware you need to build your first home network.