By Tim Leeds
Triangle Telephone Cooperative-Central Montana Communications is already working on trial usage of new Internet technology.
TTC-CMC plans to begin offering the asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) service to communities in the northern part of their service area this fall, and are setting up some trial usage right now.
ADSL allows much faster Internet connections, about 10 times faster than conventional modems allow. The service rides on the customer's regular phone line, and allows Internet usage and regular phone use at the same time. The Internet connection is always on, and does not require a dial-up connection to be used.
Customers will receive an ADSL router to make the connection. The router functions much like a conventional modem, with an ethernet port to connect it to the computer and a standard phone jack to hook it into the phone line. Software to run the service will also have to be installed.
The service for individual users will cost $70 a month, said Tim Hodges, advanced services supervisor at TTC-CMC. He said the cost would be higher for businesses hooking it into a larger computer network. The charge includes the regular phone line, the ADSL connection and the Internet service.
Hodges said the cost of the equipment and modem for the service is not finalized at this time. He said so much new equipment is coming out this year, they expect the cost of the equipment to drop dramatically and they are not ready to commit to any specific products at this time.
The service will not be available in the larger communities where the phone lines are owned by US West, such as Havre and Shelby. The service is only available in areas within 3.4 miles of an ADSL unit. Hodges said that is the maximum distance the signals can effectively travel over the phone lines. He said in rural areas of high phone concentration there are cabinets which will allow households within 3.4 miles to use the service.
TTC-CMC plans to have the service installed in all of the communities it serves by mid-2001. Hodges said they will notify people as the service becomes available in their areas.