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.::Getting Online
To get on the Internet you will need to get yourself an Internet Connection/Account which is provided by an ISP (Internet Service Provider). An Internet Connection allows you to connect to an ISP's servers that are the gateway to the Internet. You will be able to browse the Internet, send email, transfer files and lots more.

.::What its worth
A connection to the Internet does not necessarily have to be expensive. Accounts vary in cost and size. Much like a mobile phone plan. You may want to consider upgrading your computers before you start using the Internet. Many programs are resource hungry, especially web browsers.

.::What are your requirements?
Depending on the size of your business you will have to consider your connection requirements. How many people will use the Internet Connection at one time? What will you be using your connection for? What is your budget?

.::Choosing your ISP
Bigger is better in regards to the Internet. Bottlenecks and second rate connections waste time and money so take your time when choosing an ISP. Many important elements go into choosing an ISP such as response times and download limits. Gathering this information is not always easy, but often computer magazines will do reviews on the top national ISPs and put them through a series of comprehensive tests.

.::Choosing your connection type
Dial up connections are not viable in a business environment so you should rule them out straight away. Dial up connections require a modem and a spare phone line and are not typically included with the price of the Internet Connection. Most ISPs will support a range of connections types such as ADSL, Cable, ISDN, RF and Satellite.

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line is aimed at the small to medium business market and experienced home user. ADSL is the most common form of DSL but there are other types such as HDSL. A DSL connection can reach a maximum of 1.5mbs which is more than enough for a small business with an office network but can be limited at 128Kbps, 256Kbps, 384Kbps other increments depend on the ISP. ADSL is run over regular copper line and does not have to be converted into an analog signal like conventional modems. However, you will still need an ADSL modem which will most often be provided by the ISP. If you have a splitter installed it is also possible to make phone calls while you are connected. This does not harm the speed of your connection, which makes a cost effective solution for small to medium sized businesses.

Cable (Hybrid Fibre Coaxial) has been around for a while to transmit television signals but not utilized until recently as medium for Internet connectivity. Maximum speeds for cable reach 512Kbps but can be capped at 128Kbps and 256Kbps to limit excessive downloading. Installation fees may be fairly excessive if you do not already have HFC cable running through your building. Depending on the neighborhood around you the bandwidth will fluctuate if somebody begins to watch cable TV or begins to download a file in the office across the street. Access can be impaired in these situations.

Satellite is not commonly used in a business environment but is still an effective Internet connection for rural areas as an alternative to high-speed fixed line connections such as ADSL and Cable. The only downside to this is you must have a modem and phone line. The modem is used to send (upload) requests out to the Server and then the information is downloaded through the satellite connection. The installation of the satellite dish can be expensive depending on the type of plan you choose and your situation must have clear line of sight between the satellite dish and the satellite.
In bad weather conditions the service can degrade severely. In good conditions satellite download speeds can reach as high as 400Kbps but your upload is limited to the speed of your modem.

Another wireless high speed connection which uses Radio Frequencies to transmit data from an aerial on the ISPs end to a base station in the office. The aerial must be calibrated properly and dropouts can occur. It is not widely used in the common markets yet due to broadcasting license regulations.

.::Installation of your connection
Once you have chosen what type of connection is right for your business you can then have the appropriate equipment installed. This can take between 1 and 3 weeks depending on the connection, area and service provider. Some ISPs may require you to go on a minimum 12 month contract depending on what type of plan you select. If you need to give all of the computers on your network Internet access, contact your system administrator and they will advise how to go about this.