Remember back in the day of the dial up modem? The day when you had to make sure your parents and little sister did not pick up the phone in any other room as to not lose connection? Remember watching the little AOL man run across the screen as you listened to the sweet sound of the fax machine tones as it brought you to the “World Wide Web?” Great time right? You had the AOL software installed and from that one “Connect” button you were able to get online and search through websites, download things from Napster, and hang out in chat rooms with people. You were at the infancy of the Internet and little did you know what might become of it.
Flash forward to 2014 where your standard internet connection is at least 384kbps, which for those in the know is the standard DSL speed, and you are able to watch a video in less than 30 seconds, load multiple pictures, and have a fully function website come up no your browser in record time. Pretty sweet huh? But let’s back up a bit. When you were looking for an Internet Service Provider or ISP, what was your criteria? For the normal user including the elderly who are just coming in to this technology in the middle or tail end of their lives, it can all be very foreign to them. I am sure they probably even went to their children or grand children for advice, and that advice might just be, “Get what I have”; simply because it works. How are they to understand the Kilobytes or Megabytes or Gigabytes Per Second (KBPS)? How are we to protect them from being taken advantage of by service companies? And how can we keep them from breaking the bank?
First look at what your grandparents would use the internet for. Start with the simple things:
- Browsing the web
- Watching a video
- Checking E-Mail
- Making the occasional Skype Call
These are the basics of web use. Most older people are not familiar with the term Instant Messaging and the idea is very vague for them to understand but for those that do it must be quite pleasing to be able to talk and connect with them so quickly and easily than just the occasional visit or phone call. But look at the few thing like watching a video or making a skype call. Those take up a lot of bandwidth and if you have been sharing Wifi with a group of people and know when someone is watching a video, you see the speed drastically drop. So what would be good for them?
Your standard DSL package speed is about 384 KBPS. And there are plenty of companies like “NETZERO” which would say they are “faster than dial up by 10 times”. This is a funny statement as these companies are usually the ones that are slow to catch up with the times by being the ones who offered the “dial-up speed booster” when you had dial up. The reality is your dial-up connection was a 56KBPS connection. The software they provided you with to speed up the internet a month over dial-up most likely decreased the quality of pictures, made files smaller, and text different font to make it faster to render but it really did nothing toward making your speed faster. The reason it was called a 56K modem was simply because that was the fastest it could go: 56K. So that was the first scam they ran on you. So if we look to their claim as being “10 times faster” is really actually very wrong. The connection on most DSL modems can go at 384KBPS for the standard consumer model provided by phone companies and that is at the basic bundle. That is certainly enough to browse the web and read e-mail but will not be enough to handle YouTube or even voice on a Skype call. This is simple math. 56 x 10 = 560KBPS. That is not where close to 10 times. To prove this right you would have to rent the bundle with the upgraded model which goes at about 784KBPS and that is when you should rather just go with a basic cable package for internet because at that point your paying way to much.
Cable prices these days are not to bad. A basic package for a 50 Megabyte Per Second (MBPS) connection could start you between $30 and $40. Many cable companies will try and rope you in with bundles so be wary when calling. But for the internet technologies, software, and standards that are released every year the basic cable connection is your best bet. It is a solid connection for all the activities listed above and if ever needed most modems can boost up to 300MBPS, for a fee of course. Plus this basic package gives you some leeway to install a wireless router (if the one provided by the Cable company is not already wireless) so when you or family come to visit you can stream video and do whatever else you wish on the internet without your grandparents or parents losing money.
Now there is a warning that must be issued for those older people who have been up with technology and have an E-Mail from AOL and are still using the AOL software to connect to the internet. AOL may rightly be stealing money from you or them a month. If you have setup a different connection to the internet whether it be cable or DSL, and they are still using the AOL software to do everything on the web then they need to be shown whats happening. Now that you have put in a different connection the computer no longer uses itself to connect to the Internet as it did in the days of the 56K modem. The device the computer is connection to does. That device is always on so they no longer needs to hit the connect button on the AOL software to see the little yellow man run to the internet to connect. They have no need for the Mail app in the software or search or any of that antiquated functions that are currently no longer supported or produced by AOL. Why are they still paying for AOL then? Because somewhere in the transfer of their internet service AOL did not inform their users that they no longer provide internet connections and so they were able to justify the bill by saying that it is for support to their AOL software which is still being used.
It is intervention time. It is time to explain that the AOL software must be removed. They need to be shown how to access the internet without the software and how to check E-mail without the crutch. This is still a problem with senior citizens and $10 a month over many years is a lot of money for those on a budget or a fixed income. So sit down with your parents or grandparents and explain to them what is going on. Before the internet was a destination. Today the internet is always there and always on. We use it for communication, entertainment, and work. In this time of net neutrality it is time to bring them out of the dark of the old internet, save them some money, and move them into the light of standard connectivity.
Because getting an E-Mail or Instant message from Grandma or Grandpa is just as sweet if you know that they are not getting ripped off for sending it.