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Remote Connectivity

In the traditional LAN, all the computers are connected together by a cable. People who want to work at home or need access to the company's data from a customer's office need access to the LAN. A remote system can access the LAN using the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

PSTN is the regular telephone line, also known as Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). A remote user with dial-up networking dials a phone number to make a connection. A server on the LAN has a modem and remote access software that listens for rings, authenticates the user, and provides access to the network.

With a dedicated telephone line, you don't have to dial a phone number, because it's a permanent hard-wired connection between two locations.

The telephone network was designed long before computers to transmit voice. The sound of your voice is converted into an analog electrical signal. Computer networks work with digital signals. A Modem (MODulate DEModulate) is used to modulate the analog signal in a way that lets it carry the digital information. At the receiving end the analog signal is demodulated to convert it back to a digital signal for the computer.

When a modem is installed in a computer, some of the computer's resources such as an IRQ and I/O addresses must be configured. When you use an external modem, you must configure the serial COM port that the modem is connected to. An Internal modem has an on-board COM port that must be configured.

Before Plug and Play, jumpers were used to configure the modems COM port settings. With Plug and Play, you only need to install the modem card and boot the computer. The Plug and Play operating system will detect the new hardware and configure the modem automatically.


Before the World Wide Web, you accessed the Internet by dialing into a Unix server where you had a shell account. Terminal emulation software allowed your computer to function as a dumb terminal on the remote server. The server did all the processing and sent screen updates back to your computer.

Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP) is used to connect a computer to a TCP/IP network using an asynchronous connection such as a telephone line. SLIP encapsulates the TCP/IP protocol for transmission via a modem. Your computer is configured with an IP address like a regular Internet host that can be connected to other computers on the Internet. This allows you to run network applications on your computer. The only difference is that a SLIP connection over a telephone line is a lot slower than a direct connection to an Ethernet network.

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