High speed internet access is kind of like buying a new car for the first time. Once you've tasted a fast download, you'll never be able to go back to the old clunker again.
Luckily new choices are arriving on the scene, but living in a rural area still poses the greatest problem. Let's take the phone company. Everybody has a phone, but to get the hi-speed digital subscriber line from the phone company, you'll have to pony up about 50-dollars a month, after installation. The D-S-L is about 200-times faster than a dial-up, but it's also more susceptible to security problems.
In Illinois, Verizon offers DSL on a limited basis to a number of larger communities, Carbondale, Marion, Anna-Jonesboro and Metropolis to name a few. But you still have to go through an internet service provider. As an incentive, Verizon is waiving most of the installation fees.
In Missouri, SBC also offers DSL on a limited availability in major population areas, and it's still offering some incentives to buy if you sign a year's contract.
Your second choice for hi-speed internet access is the cable company. In Southeast Missouri, Charter Cable is preparing to roll-out it's new Pipeline service. Thousands are getting flyers in the mail. Pipeline promises connections up to 500-times faster than dial-up, but it works on a sort of "party-line" system, and it, too, is more susceptible to security problems. Cable internet service is not available in Southern Illinois yet, and is still a couple of months away in Southeast Missouri.
Finally, there's satellite. It may be the only alternative for people living in the country. It's up to 400-times faster than dial-up, but probably has the costliest installation and monthly fees. Some people complain that it's a little tricky to keep the hardware and software working like it should.
And one more choice is starting to show up: wireless. It's different than satellite...a bit more affordable than DSL, and apparently pretty reliable. We'll have a story about that on a future fast forward.