Top:Computers and Internet:Internet:My Connection:DSL:Internet Service Provider
1) Teleport was bought out by OneMain.com, a national corporation. This didn't seem to affect service. But, one of the reasons I had been so faithful to Teleport was the fact that they were a local company (they literally started in a garage (okay, a closet) in Portland).
2) OneMain.com was shortly bought out by EarthLink, an Internet behemoth. Ewwww.... Now my little ISP was part of the corporate conglomerate culture.
3) Teleport decided that they were going to start charging me an extra $25/month for the privilege of having three computers on my DSL line. Strike three....
So, I shopped around. I checked out all of the locally-owned DSL-capable providers that I could find (it was a short list). Then I got an offer in the mail from USWest.net. I compared. The local guys couldn't even come close because all of them wanted to charge extra for having multiple computers hooked up.
So, I sadly switched to US West for my ISP. So, for about $20/month (in addition to the $40/month I pay for physical DSL access), I now have 640 kbps Internet access, two mailboxes, news, and 5 MB of web space, as well as the ability to use as many computers as I want.
Contrary to my earlier information on this page, the Cisco 675 router does, in fact, support network address translation (NAT). NAT is needed in order for multiple computers to share the same dynamic IP address. I've been using it here for several months with no problems. The folks at US West were kind enough to help me get it all set up.
Caveat: US West, like any large organization, has good technical people as well as bad ones. Be patient.
FYI, most ISPs (including Qwest.net) use dynamic IP numbers. This means that each time your computer connects to your ISP, you are assigned a different 32-bit internet address. A static IP means that your computer is assigned a permanent 32-bit IP number that is reserved for it and it alone. The reason most ISPs use dynamic addressing instead of static is it allows to have a smaller pool of IP numbers. An ISP with 100,000 customers, with, say, 10,000 dial-up lines, does not have 100,000 IP numbers. That would be a waste, as most of those numbers would sit unused most of the time. So, they assign each user a temporary IP number when they connect. When the user disconnects, their former number will be assigned to someone else after a period of time. The reason for all of this is that, while there are theoretically over 4.2 billion unique internet addresses (4,294,967,296, to be precise), the Internet is running short of addresses, much as the US telephone system is slowly but surely running out of telephone numbers. So, IP numbers are getting harder and harder to get.
Most people get along just fine with a dynamic IP, even when using multiple computers, as their equipment spends large periods of time turned off (such as after the close of business, or during the day when they are at work). For folks like us, NAT is the way to go. If your router doesn't support NAT and you want multiple computers to use the same dynamically-assigned IP address, check out SyGate -- they have a fully-functional trial version for download on their web site.
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