DSL deployment brings opportunity, limitations

March 4, 2001



The recent announcement by BellSouth of its coming deployment of Digital Subscriber Line high-speed Internet access to 57 rural communities in Kentucky was well-received -- and for good reason.

Without the deployment -- which was part of agreement between BellSouth and the Public Service Commission -- the service likely would've been delayed in reaching parts of the state.

At a reception hosted by BellSouth at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort, Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton and other state and local leaders turned out to find out more about DSL.

The only downsides to DSL are it usually costs more than dial-up Internet access, and it has a limited service area.

While a map of my home county would have you believe DSL will be widely available, the truth is it will only extend some 3.4 miles from the company's central office.

A BellSouth representative said technology is changing so fast that it may be possible to improve coverage beyond that range. I appreciate the promise, but for nearly all of my county's rural residents, DSL will remain out of reach.

IE 6 COMING. Just when you were getting used to your favorite Web browsers, Microsoft will be releasing a public beta version of its next-generation browser, Internet Explorer 6,in the next month or so.

"Beta" software is essentially a work-in-progress -- software that can be buggy, or have features that don't work.

Software companies release beta software versions so users can try them out -- it's like having thousands of field testers who work for free.

Those who test and find bugs in the software sometimes receive free trinkets for their work, but mostly they do so for the bragging rights.

I have frequently downloaded and installed beta software -- not to troubleshoot the software, but to evaluate it.

The public beta of Internet Explorer 6 will have some updated features:

• IE 6 adds a Media bar, Contacts bar, Search the Web bar, News bar and Personal bar to the existing Explorer bars.

• Support for new privacy standards.

• Built-in virus protection in Outlook Express 6.

Microsoft will not release a version of Internet Explorer 6 for Windows 95. The company has said that it will no longer support Windows 95. IE6 will be aimed at Windows 98 and ME users.

SURVIVOR SCOOP. Fans of the TV show "Survivor II: The Australian Outback" can find out the latest rumors at Web site that loves to hate show, SurvivorSucks.com.

The site features a "Fantasy Survivor" game, where players receive points for selecting when Survivor contestants will leave the TV show.

The Web site's producers have been racking up correct guesses of who will leave the show each week, and fans of the show who sometimes visit have said they purposely avoid visiting to preserve the suspense of not knowing who will leave the set next.

The official CBS "Survivor" Web site stays busy -- it racked up more than 2.14 million unique visitors the week the shows started the new season.

For more information, visit www.survivorsucks.com.

POWER SURFING. Electric utilities in Europe may wind up becoming Internet providers, according to the developers of a new technology and its supporters.

Faster and cheaper Internet access may soon be available via a power company's electrical lines.

The new powerline technology would be a boon to Europe, where telephone companies often charge by-the-minute rates for all phone usage.

The technology allows the transmission of voice and data over normal power lines. A customer attaches a special modem to his computer and to any wall receptacle in the home.

The service is supposed to offer Internet speeds "many times the speed of present telecommunications options," a release said.

The German power utility MVV will launch the powerline technology this summer in Mannheim, where it will connect 3,000 users. A pilot project tested with 200 homes was successfully completed.

Deploying the technology across Europe and possibly the United States is in the long-range plans for Main.net, one of the leading developers of powerline technology.

The lack of powerline transmission standards may hamper that goal. Trials and tests are underway in Italy, Spain, France, and Sweden and in Georgia in the United States.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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