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NIH Record

Speedier Access to NIH Network Now Available in Montgomery

By Scott Collins

Cable television, which revolutionized a generation's viewing habits with music videos and pay-per-view, is now changing the way some NIH employees get to work. The Center for Information Technology recently teamed up with Cable TV Montgomery to offer cable modem access to the NIH network. The new service means that authorized staff who reside in Montgomery County and subscribe to the cable provider can now access their office networks from home at speeds 20 times faster than conventional dial-up connections.

Cable modems tap into the immense bandwidth available through cable television networks, so files can be downloaded at up to 700 Kbps (kilobits per second)— blink-of-an-eye speed compared to the rates possible over traditional phone lines. That's good news for employees who telecommute to their workplace — anyone on flexiplace, or staff who work online for extended time periods or have other special system access requirements.

To take advantage of cable access, you still need a dial-up modem connection for logging on and uploading files, i.e., transferring data from the home computer to the network. You also need a network interface card, and of course, the cable modem itself, which is included with Cable TV Mont-gomery's installation plan. Do-it-yourself types can obtain a self-install kit for $10. As with other services, staff must register through their NIH account sponsors via Web Sponsor.

Technical support is provided by CIT and Cable TV Montgomery, which offers unlimited service to NIH'ers at a discount price of $39.95 per month. That price is in addition to basic cable costs.

Most users appear happy with the service. "You can't beat the speed," said the Clinical Center's Mark Miller, who uses remote access to administer networks. He helped iron out the connection process for the Macintosh platform and looks forward to improved Mac support. Cable modem access appears to be a great solution both in terms of bandwidth and price for many users.

Many other high-speed access options exist for NIH staff, including 56K modems, ISDN or DSL technologies. A helpful comparison chart, along with detailed explanations about the availability, affordability and supported network protocols for a wide variety of services, can be found at CIT's Remote Access Solutions Web page,

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