The Editors and Readers of COMPUTE!
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions you would like to see addressed in this column, write to "Readers Feedback," COMPUTE!, P.O. Box 5406, Greensboro, NC 27403. Due to the volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot provide personal answers to technical questions.
Telecomputing For Beginners
I have three questions about modems. Can you use a modem if you have a two-party phone line? Is it cheaper in the long run to buy a 1200-baud modem for $100, or a 300-baud modem for $40? When you use services like CompuServe, that charge by the minute, do you have to pay long-distance bills for calling them?
A modem can be used on a two-party line, but if the other party picks up the phone while you're telecommunicating, you'll probably lose some data; you might even be disconnected. If you plan on downloading long programs from the service, you'll probably want to switch to a single-party line.
The key phrase in your second question is "in the long run." Although you'll save a few dollars in the short run if you buy the 300-baud modem, you'll save more in the long run by choosing the 1200-baud modem. If you use your new modem often, you'll make up the $60 difference in the prices quickly.
As to your third question, it depends. Many cities have a local access number—you can reach the service with a local call. If you don't have a local access number, you'll have to pay for a long distance call. For details, check with the service you're interested in. An alternative to long distance calls, known as the PC Pursuit Service, is available from GTE Telenet. This service is designed for data only (no voices) and is available in only certain area codes. For a $25 sign-up fee and $25 a month, you can make an unlimited number of calls from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays, and at any time during the weekend. For more information, call the PC Pursuit Bulletin board at 1-800-835-3001 (data only).