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Since Bell Atlantic was running a free installation special on ISDN lines, I decided to take the plunge. The sales rep was very helpful in taking the order. I decided to get the internal version of the US Robotics ISDN adapter. This hardware has received good reviews and Bell Atlantic's pricing is very competive.
|I disappointed the salesman by declining the options of having Bell Atlantic install either the card into my computer or the new ISDN inside wiring. The free installation, understandably only goes up to the network interface device. The network interface device (NID) is the grey or silver box - most often in your basement or the outside wall - that serves as the demarcation between your wiring and that of the telephone company. I wanted to do this work myself, not because I thought the cost unreasonable, but because I needed something to write about!||
On the day scheduled for the ISDN install, a Bell Atlantic technician arrived early. He quickly ran the wire to my home's network interface device. After spending some time doing tests, he concluded that his install was correct, but that there were problems with the outside wiring that required a special splicing crew. The next morning Bell Atlantic had three trucks outside. The splicing team spent most of the day working in the street outside of my house. I sure got my money's worth with the free installation!
Putting the US Robotics ISDN adapter hardware into my computer was very easy. It just plugs (POWER OFF - OF COURSE!) into any empty ISA slot. The software installation was just as easy. The US Robotics ISDN Manager software basically just asks for the Switch Type, phone number, and SPID# - all of which were supplied by the sales rep at the time the order was taken. These numbers were also in a confirmation letter from Bell Atlantic. All the card's hardware settings were handled by Windows 95 as a plug and play.
||The running of the inside wiring was also completely without any complications. I used regular phone wire - unshielded twisted pair. I connected the red wire to one pole in the network interface device (NID) and the green wire to the other pole. The black and the yellow wire were not used. All that was done to hook up the line was:|
Open the NID.
Expose the wires at one end of the phone wire.
Strip the ends of the red wire and the green wire.
Take the nut off of each of the two poles that the ISDN line ran to in the NID.
Loop the copper end of the red wire around one pole and that of the green around the other.
Put the nuts back on the poles.
Close the NID.
Run the phone line along the wall.
Staple the phone line in place.
Expose the wires at the other end of the phone wire.
Strip the ends of the red wire and the green wire.
Fasten the exposed end of the red wire to one nut in a regular phone jack (RJ-11).
Fasten the exposed end of the green wire to the other nut in a regular phone jack (RJ-11).
It took longer to write that it did to do!
|The US Robotics ISDN adapter comes with a line that has a RJ-11 (4 wire) plug on one end and a RJ-45 (8 wire) plug on the other. The RJ-45 goes to the ISDN adapter in the computer. The RJ-11 goes to the wall jack.||
||ISDN lines don't have dial tones like the common analog phone lines. Luckily the US ROBOTICS 128k Manager software automatically tests the line when the driver loads at the end of the WINDOWS 95 boot. Rarely the software will report a phanthom line break. I've found that just shutting WINDOWS 95 down and turning the machine off and then back on will solve this fictional error message.|
I'm also using the Bell Atlantic Internet service for the ISDN line.
The results are well worth the small expense. SAVES of Web Pages and small graphics are almost instantaneous. Graphic-packed Sites jump onto the screen. You can now download a new version of NETSCAPE without wondering if only your grandchildren will live long enough to complete the file transfer!
Why does it work so fast. An ISDN line is completely digital. Most of the phone company's internal equipment is digital, yet the "final mile" of every line is still analog. With a conventional, analog line, your computer modem needs to convert digital equipment to an analog format. The phone system needs to do a number of internal conversions. Finally and slowly a huffing and puffing analog signal arrives at your Internet Service Provider. The ISP needs to convert that again into a digital format! ISDN exchanges this roller-coaster ride for a high speed locomotive. Since ISDN is entirely digital, there is a tremendous increase in speed and efficiency.
A number of other phone devices, conventional voice phones and fax machines can be hooked up to a single ISDN line. When these are in use, Internet access will slow somewhat.
Unfortunately, an ISDN line can't help when the bottleneck is a slow server at the other end. Another common slow poke is when a JAVA program is trying to get up steam...
Realistically evaluate you Internet usage. Bell Atlantic has very modestly priced monthly ISDN fee schedules. After the plan's number of hours is used up, per minute charges apply.
The conclusion is simple - get ISDN. You won't regret it!