I have always believed that you can’t learn anything by playing with it in theory, you have to put the knowledge to work in practice. While this can be expensive, I like to think of it as tuition to the University of Hard Knocks as it helps ease the pain.

The first thing we came to was the realization we couldn’t justify a full T1 leaving a 56K frame and a 384K (fractional T1) as the remaining choices. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a 56K frame wouldn’t allow us enough bandwidth to resell. However, the fractional T1 was $720/month based on an 84 month contract. Ah well, in for a penny, in for a pound (adjusted for inflation, of course.)

But wait, there’s more!

We would also have to absorb a $275 installation fee along with purchasing a CSU/DSU and a router. Alternately, I could rent a CSU/DSU and router from Verizon but it was priced so high that I couldn’t justify it. Aside from the expense the other issue was I wasn’t an expert in routers (heck, I didn’t even know what one was used for) let alone how to set one up. At this point it didn’t make a difference because I had already signed the contract and within 30 days I was going to have an installed circuit in my living room that I was going to be paying for.

After looking around I found out that a Cisco was way out of my price range and that I would have to pay (an arm, a leg and various other appendages) for support. This lead me to find a suitable non-Cisco router with the CSU/DSU built in. The router cost roughly a third of what the comparable Cisco would have cost and it came with free tech support for life! A mere $800 plus shipping later I was on my way to becoming connected.

As promised, five weeks later, a Verizon tech pulled up in his van and knocked on the door. We chatted for a short time, we discussed where I would like the frame to be installed and he went to work. A couple of hours later I had everything I needed to go all set up – except the router. No problem, I thought, I have free lifetime unlimited tech support.

Fine, I have the connection now I call the router company and quickly find out that free, unlimited tech support is a term I must have misunderstood when I spoke to the salesperson. For some reason, I didn’t understand their definition as I just assumed that the usual English definition would fit.

Now, I’m in trouble, I’m paying $25/day for a connection I cannot use. I called a good friend of mine and he agreed to stop by “when he had a chance” and help me set my router up. It just so happens that he showed up around dinnertime on Halloween night. After the both of us managed to get into the router (reading the manual) he explained to me how to set up the static routes and a few other things and all of a sudden we were on the net.

For someone like me who was rapidly becoming addicted to the net, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I was able to have a page load fast enough that I could remember what was on the previous page I had been reading when the next page loaded. This had been a problem for me on dialup that I had cured by opening all the pages in an article and minimizing them on the task bar so I could keep continuity. And download speeds – they were incredible. With dialup the best I ever saw were speeds approaching 4Kbps and now I was seeing 45Kbps!

This was great, I had to tell people but how could I share the connection? The answer was easy, I had read all about it. Wireless was going to be the medium of the future and I was going to own the entire world as soon as my equipment showed up. Look out world, there’s a new communications sheriff in town.

Next up, the wonders (Did I say wonders? I meant frustrations.) of wireless.

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