FTLComm - Tisdale - January 12, 2001
The idea of high speed Internet connection is overwhelming. Several visits with our sons in Winnipeg where they use a cable modem really made it hard to leave this remarkable convenience but at last we have it in most of Saskatchewan's larger centres.

ADSL is able to operate on a conventional telephone line, the old fashion modem we have used since 1984 hit a speed limit at 35 volts and a through put of 54 kilobytes per second back in 1996. But ADSL pumps a carrier signal down the line a filter is used to allow voice communications on the same telephone line and the French company that makes the modem (in China, where else) has a solid performance product that gives excellent speed to Internet communications.

In a few minutes I was able to download the newest upgrade to Apple's operating system, 9.1 (90 megabytes) on Thursday and it took less time to download then to install.

The limitation with ADSL is distance. Four kilometres and that is it, if you live a step beyond that distance from the SaskTel switch gear you are out of luck.

The dealer franchised by SaskTel to market this service and provide customer support is Melfort's Dataport. The folks there were helpful in getting the service organised but the service was available in Tisdale on November 30 and it was not until Wednesday that I got connected.

For people with Windows based computers Dataport sends out a technician to get the system up and running. With Mac equipment in the FTLComm office this was just not necessary. However, Dataport turned out to be a bit short on awareness about networks. Fred, at Dataport told me that I could either use the Internet High Speed modem or my network but with out an additional Ethernet card in my machine I could not access my file server, printers and other Ethernet connection machines.

However, even though the SaskTel folks took the modem box and its manual with them I was able to access the Internet and find the information on the manufacturer's web site. The modem is to be plugged into my network hub or my computer using a standar Ethernet cable and connected to the uplink port on my Ethernet hub. With this in place each computer on my network can access the Internet. However, I was allocated only one Internet address so this meant only one computer to access the Internet at a time but all other network connections remained intact.

To solve this problem I have installed a router. Most often we consider a router to be a hardware appliance that handles the components of a network giving them each addresses and handling the traffic in this manner. Instead, I simply set up one computer as a software router using Sustainable Softworks IPNetRouter. The way this works is that this computer accesses the Internet using the fixed address give us by SaskTel then the IPNetRouter pretends, or masquerades, using a completely different set of IP numbers for the network. The result is that FTLComm has a protected network, behind the router which acts as a firewall and all machines connected to the system can merrily use the Internet independently.

It was not surprising to find out that the iMac simply takes off with this high speed connection. Designed to work on the Internet, it is astonishing how productive and efficient it is in accessing things. We have an aging 486 sitting here and it can do its chores and work online right along with the others using Windows for Workgroups 3.1, it has an application that allows it to access the AppleTalk network in the office including the Laser printers.

In many ways I feel like Neil Armstrong, "one step for. . . . " well the speed makes it seem like that.

Timothy W. Shire