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More questions and answers on cable Internet access
technofile  by al fasoldt
Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology 
Simple gray rule

More questions and answers on cable Internet access 

Bit Player for May 17, 1998

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1998, The Syracuse Newspapers

In a month or two you may be able to start accessing the Internet at very high speed if you subscribe to Time Warner's Road Runner cable service. Judging from the mail I've received, I'd say many of you are looking for more information on Road Runner before you decide to pay the $40 to $45 a month it costs.

Here are some of those questions along with my answers.

Can I use my computer at the same time I use my TV? Yes. They do not interfere with each other.

Will Road Runner give me an e-mail account? Yes.

I know Road Runner does not use my modem or my second phone line, but please tell readers they should keep that modem and maybe even the second line if they want to continue to use America Online or the Microsoft Network. No, I won't tell them that. Both AOL and MSN can be accessed over the Internet, through your Road Runner connection.

We have two PCs at home. Can Road Runner be hooked up to both of them? Yes. Time Warner will charge you $10 a month for each extra connection, along with an additional fee for the extra hookup.

We have two PCs that are already networked. Will the PC that is not hooked up to Road Runner be able to access the Internet over our home network, through the first PC's Road Runner connection? Yes and no. Time Warner probably wants you to pay the extra $10 a month, but a PC that's already linked to one that has a Road Runner connection will be able to use the cable modem over the network. There are many ways to do this, but we'll leave descriptions for another time.

Will I get a permanent, fixed IP address through Road Runner? No. Your IP address (the number that serves as a unique address for any computer on the Internet) will change at unannounced intervals.

Everybody who's spent more than a few weeks on the Internet knows how slow it is. This cable thing is bogus, because it won't speed up all those slow sites! Wrong. The slowest part of a normal Internet connection is at the PC end. Sure, many servers on the Net are busy, but you'll benefit immensely by a fast connection at your end.

Will I be able to watch cable TV shows on my PC? Road Runner will not have any special streaming video for local cable TV shows.

Do I have to use a Windows PC or a Macintosh to use the cable hookup? Actually, no. But Time Warner only supports its Road Runner service on those two. If you can figure a way to get your Amiga or NeXT or DOS PC to work with the cable service and let Time Warner check out how you've done it, you'll probably be OK.

Seems to me you should be able to send huge files in just a few minutes with Road Runner. Could I do something like Zip up my Windows folder and send it to my brother-in-law if he had RR too? By e-mail? No. Road Runner wisely limits the size of e-mail attachments so its users don't start sending 400-megabyte files through the mail server. But you can use any other method, such as sending files though ICQ or by setting up ftp transfers. (Free or cheap software lets you turn your PC into an ftp server.)

Will I be able to send e-mail to my friends on AOL if I subscribe to Road Runner? You can send e-mail to anyone who has an Internet e-mail address.

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