by April 1, 2000 0 comments

The revolution has finally begun. With a cable modem
Internet connection, you can now stay connected to the Net 24 hours a day. Who knows, you
might even be able to download the entire Internet!

Ark Communications is among the first few ISPs in India to
provide a cable Internet service. Certain sectors in the township of Noida, Uttar
are now lucky enough to get high-speed Internet access without paying for the moon.

Subscription costs are also fairly decent. You need to pay
Rs 500 per month, for a 64 kbps connection to the Net. You can either buy the cable modem
outright or get it on rent. Renting will add another Rs 500 per month, plus an additional
Rs 15,000 security deposit that’s completely refundable.

The Ark setup

Ark has a device called CMTS (Cable Modem Termination
System) or a head-end (see figure) that links all the cable modems to the ISP’s
Internet backbone. The cable wire coming into your home gets split up, with one end going
into your television and the other end to an Ethernet card plugged into your system. Yes,
you’ll also need an Ethernet card on your machine.

Ark is using a 3Com-based cable modem setup. 3Com cable
modems use the (DOCSIS) Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications standard,
developed by the MCNS (Multimedia Cable Internet System) consortium of the major cable
companies in the US. This standard allows digital data like that of the Internet to flow
through one or more cable channels provided by a cable operator. Since the ISP uses a 3Com
head-end, all those availing the service must also use 3Com cable modems, or those
compatible with the DOCSIS standard.

Cable vs dial-up connection

We did some Web browsing using the Ark setup and found it
to be roughly as fast as a dial-up connection. What tips the scales completely towards
cable modems, however, is 24-hour connectivity. You don’t have to worry about line
disconnects that are common with dial-up accounts. So you can download all you want,
including that huge game you always wanted without worrying about exhausting your Internet
account, as this costs only Rs 500 a month.

Ark has a 3 Mbps backbone to VSNL, which is equivalent to
3,072 kbps. If you divide this figure by 64 kbps, which is the maximum speed that you can
get on your cable modem connection, you end up with a figure of 48. Thus, Ark can sustain
a total of forty-eight, 64 kbps connections on maximum throughput. What this boils down to
is that with more subscribers, the throughput goes down. We got speeds of roughly between
20-40 kbps with Ark’s setup, which has around 200 subscribers.

The economics of a dial-up connect to the Internet works
out to be surprisingly expensive. If you work out the arithmetic for 24-hours a day,
30-days a month connect to the Net, your telephone charges will go above Rs 10,000! Add
another Rs 8,000 for a 500-hour Internet account and you can see what I mean. There’s
720 hours for a 30-day month. So even your Internet account will expire before the month
is over.

In comparison, cable modems offer cheaper connects of
greater bandwidths. Only, your area should have a cable ISP.

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