Modems Help Make the World a Global Village

Modem -- How the World is at Your Fingertips

It is not strange in the 21st century to find an amalgamation of the west and the east following the huge changes made to the flow of communication mechanisms in the last few decades. The most significant one of these has probably been the invention of the world wide web and its access availability for both private and public sector usage apart from the one its previous limited usage by the defenses. This availability of the Internet across the citizens of the 21st century has been largely because of the invention of a device we call a “Modem.”

Now, transmissions can be either two types: Wireline or Wireless transfer. To explain in layman’s language, a source signal is sent by the signal generator from the service provider, which is then transferred by either wireless or wireline means, like a coaxial cable or fixed lines, to the location of the point of access at the customer site where a modem (along with a router) is attached. It is just like another peripheral device connected to the computer. The difference is that it acts both as an input as well as an output device. It takes the digital/analog data coming into it from the channel and converts it into computer-comprehensible format, and takes the uploaded data from the system, converts it into a suitable format for transmission (usually digital modulation) and sends it back across the channel, thus providing access to different data available through different sources across the world. This is why the name is given to it because its main aim is to perform two main processes, which are modulation and demodulation.

The following various terms are usually associated with it:

  • BPS: Bits per second is a measure of how fast the modem transfers data. A bad rate of transfer for example would be 300bps, while a really good one would be somewhat close to about 55,000 bps. Thus, one can see a wide variation in speeds depending upon a multitude of factors such as type of transmission channel used, susceptibility to disturbances, etc. But most importantly it is affected by the advancement of technology used to build that device. Telephone lines are usually considered to be unreliable for the transmission of digital data. That is why most service providers have developed special transmission channels (channels are regulated by T1 is the U.S., and E1 in Europe) for transmitting digital data.
  • Voice/Data: Many modems provide a facility of switching in between data mode and voice mode. In the data mode, the device acts as a regular modem, while in the voice mode it acts as a regular telephone. Devices that perform such dual functions usually have built-in loudspeakers for voice communication.
  • Auto Answer: This mode enables the computer system attached to it to send the data at a comparatively much higher rate of transmission. This is adopted or is rather required by only those users which themselves provide a type of necessary service that people can call and use.

Some devices these days have also been equipped with latest technologies. Some use flash memory instead of a simple ROM (read-only memory). What this means in simple language is that the communication protocols can be easily updated instead by using a read and writable memory instead of a fixed ROM. Not only this, some of the devices also have fax capabilities which allow them to send and receive faxes, without having to face any difficulties usually encountered in a simple fax machine!

For unique transfer mechanisms, certain protocols have been devised that are followed the world over with two slightly different ones being the European and U.S. sets of rules. For connecting such devices, a standard interface for external connection to computers called RS-232 is fixed. This is a common port and almost all computers come with it. Some devices can be required to be connected with the help of an expansion board that can be easily inserted into any vacant expansion slot in the computer system. These are sometimes called as onboard or internal modems.

Such interfaces are standardized and a number of different protocols for formatting are also devised. Standards like CCIT V.34 are official standards while some others have also been developed by a few other private companies. Most of the devices provide a built-in support for the most common protocols where there are slow data transmission speeds, at higher speeds such protocols are comparatively less standardized.

All in all, the invention of the “Modulator-Demodulator”‘ has created a revolutionized growth in the manner in which digital data is transmitted across channels the world over. Thus, it would not be an overstatement to say that it has made the world a global village.

However, a great modem is only as good as the High Speed Internet service that its connected to. So to find out which Internet service providers are available in your area, enter your street address in the top-right corner of this page, and you’ll be taken to a page that shows you all the current offers.