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How Does Dialup Internet Work?

Most of us have experienced what it's like to surf the web with a dial-up connection, but do you know how it works? How can an ordinary phone line access the internet?

The device that's used to convert data from a PC to a compatible signal in your phone line is called a modem. "Modem" is an abbreviation for Modulator-Demodulator. It was first used in the 1960s to allow computer terminals to be connected together over phone lines. Now, we use modems at home and at the office as a device to convert data to a signal that can pass through a copper wire and allow us to access the internet.

Connecting to the internet via dial-up can result in some odd sounds. This is called a handshake protocol, and is what starts your connection to the internet. It can also validate your remaining credits on a dial-up prepaid card, and authenticate your access to an ISP. The shorter the 'handshake', the faster the connection.

dialup internet diagram

After validation and authentication, you will be able to connect to the internet. When browsing the net, all requests go from your PC's modem to the internet service provider (ISP). Your ISP uses a broadband connection to access the web pages that you requested before sending the information back to you.

Dialup may be slower than other types of internet access, but is still very useful for those people living in areas where other internet types aren't yet available, or in places where ultra-fast internet isn't required.

Today's bandwidth-hungry websites are generally not supported by dialup internet. Based upon the explanation of the technology, if you have determined that you wish to explore other technologies, see our comprehensive internet providers guide for more help.

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