In today\'s world the bounds of information technology are being pushed further and further every day. With Local Area Networks spanning into WorldWide Area Networks and globalization happening to every small business with a connection to the Internet the need for alternatives is growing. Technology and hardware are increasing faster than people with the skills to support them are. With this the ways to connect and expand into the Internet are improving as well as the speed of connections. There are many ways to gain access onto today\'s Internet and discussed here are going to be three common ways such as the modem, the cable modem and Microsoft\'s WebTV. These three describe represent the novice, the intermediate, and the advanced.

One of the most common ways to connect to the Internet is the modem or the dial-up adapter. It is the most prevalent of the three and was one of the first pieces of hardware used to connect to the Internet. The modem is very similar to a telephone in which the computer when instructed will dial up a telephone number given to you by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and establish a connection between you and your provider allowing you access to the Internet. The modem has made some advances from it\'s initial stages and had managed to increase it\'s downloading speeds, commonly used when browsing and it\'s uploading speeds used more often when sending Email.

Currently the modem is reaching it\'s pinnacle as speeds are reached at around 56 Kilobytes per second which is for download only and the uploads are at a more modest 28.8K or 33.6K. Unfortunately top speeds in the United States will be initially limited to 53K because of FCC regulations. The FCC does not actually limit modem speeds rather it limits the amount of power that can be sent through the phone line. In order to prevent interference with other electrical devices the FCC places limitations not on the modem but on the server equipment at the online service or ISP your dialing into. It\'s possible that the FCC may grant a waiver in the future that would allow speeds of 56K or higher in the United States.

The modem aside from disadvantages mentioned above also has more competition than it had in the past, with more and more people entering the world wide web there are more web sites available that contain heavy graphics and a lot of detail. As web sites become more complex the greater the amount of information that needs to be sent to the user becomes. Visiting a web site that\'s rich in graphics on a 56K modem at the best can still take quite a bit of time. So the need for greater speed and ways to gain access at a quicker rate is becoming more and more apparent everyday. These minor disadvantages are a nuisance, but they won\'t prevent most people from using the technology besides not everyone needs or wants to be connected to the internet at rates faster than what a modem can handle.

There are advantages to using the modem, one of these I name the cardboard box. Any personal computer package purchased today unless otherwise specified comes with a modem this is mainly due to inexpensive prices and the demand for access. The modem is also great because it covers all users from the novice to the advanced and can meet almost all of their needs. With it\'s ease of use and high demand the modem even with faster and better technology out there will still be a factor in today\'s market.

Another piece of technology that\'s quickly growing is the cable modem an alternative to the slower 56K modem which is using the coaxial cable used for you cable instead of your telephone line. The cable modem is a little bit more complexes compared to that of the standard modem and requires additional hardware as well. The term modem is a little misleading considering that it actually does more than just receive cable signals. Cable modems also incorporate a tuner (to separate the data signal from the rest of the broadcast stream); parts from network adapters, bridges, and routers (to connect to multiple computers); network-management software agents (so the cable company can control and monitor its operations); and