What’s a modem?

Today when you hear the word modem, associated words like dsl-, wireless-, cellular-, cable- come to mind. Maybe even satellite- … but rarely dial-up or V.92 … and even more rarely do we hear the modem sound (or see it :)).

Broadband vs dialup modemIn most developed nations broadband has effectively displaced the old dial-up modem – particularly for Internet and business network connection. Pew Research reported recently that today only 3% of Americans connect to the internet at home via dial-up.

So national telcos and ISPs around the globe are turning off dial-up internet access service entirely. Vietnam’s VNPT stopped providing dial-up internet services last year and BT recently turned off its UK dial-up service this year.  However dial-up has residual users, as it is often the only choice available for rural or remote areas, and such disconnects often draw an angry response from users in regions where broadband and cellular simply do not work.

Also there are many countries and regions around the world where broadband has yet to penetrate at levels comparable with North America or Western Europe – and dial-up still prevails. For example:

  • In Latin America the broadband penetration was at 8.4% at end-2012 (slightly below the world average of 9.2%) but some countries within the region (like Haiti, Paraguay, Nicaragua) have barely 1% or 2% penetration rates.
  • In Brazil which has an active National Broadband Plan and the broadband deployment is 9%, the penetration is highly regionalized – with 82% of Brazil’s broadband subscribers being located in the southern coastal strip which covers only a fourth of the country (according to a recent Paul Budde research report), and even within this region most households still have a dial-up service.

Also there are many market niches where dial-up is still strong. The vast majority of the dial-up modems in use today are not used for network access but for point to point communications – by businesses in applications such as retail POS, kiosks, vending machines, remote sensor monitoring, out-of-band management and M2M. In all these markets, wireless cellular solutions are making a challenge for control, however dial-up wired solutions will not be displaced in the foreseeable future.

… and these are the reasons why I think Opengear’s updates to our Lighthouse virtual modem pool dialout facilty are both cool and timely. The dialpool  facility eliminates the need for remote admins to carry external modems because dialpool  allows them to connect to remote sites out-of-band via an analog modem connection from within their browser.

By distributing Opengear devices to provide dialout services within each remote region, the dialpool facility can also remedy international line quality issues with compressed PSTN lines and avoid the costs of dialing globally. So, from a laptop in the comfort of his/her coffee shop in the USA or India a support engineer can initiate a local dial out connection in Brazil (using a selection of local telco landlines) to a console server in the remote rural branch office there, and power cycle a problematic device.

Click on the above image to learn more – or if you already have Opengear console servers deployed you can download a full version of Lighthouse VM for free and evaluate dialpool first hand.

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