The Internet is a network of networks that interconnects computers around
the world, supporting both business and residential users. In 1994, a
multimedia Internet application known as the World Wide Web became
popular. The higher bandwidth needs of this application have highlighted
the limited Internet access speeds available to residential users. Even at 28.8
Kilobits per second (Kbps)--the fastest residential access commonly
available at the time of this writing--the transfer of graphical images can be
This report examines two enhancements to existing residential
communications infrastructure: Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN),
and cable television networks upgraded to pass bi-directional digital traffic
(Cable Modems). It analyzes the potential of each enhancement to deliver
Internet access to residential users. It validates the hypothesis that upgraded
cable networks can deliver residential Internet access more cost-effectively,
while offering a broader range of services.
The research for this report consisted of case studies of two commercial
deployments of residential Internet access, each introduced in the spring of
ÃÂ· Continental Cablevision and Performance Systems International (PSI)
jointly developed PSICable, an Internet access service deployed over
upgraded cable plant in Cambridge, Massachusetts;
ÃÂ· Internex, Inc.
began selling Internet access over ISDN telephone
circuits available from Pacific Bell. Internex's customers are residences and
small businesses in the 'Silicon Valley' area south of San Francisco,
2.0 The Internet
When a home is connected to the Internet, residential communications
infrastructure serves as the 'last mile' of the connection between the
home computer and the rest of the computers on the Internet. This
section describes the Internet technology involved in that connection.
This section does not discuss other aspects of Internet technology in
detail; that is well done elsewhere. Rather, it focuses on the services
that need to be provided for home computer users to...