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New technology gives apartments fast Internet access

To telecommuter Howard Susskind, Internet speed makes all the difference  
March 23, 1998
Web posted at: 11:28 p.m. EST (0428 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new technology is letting some apartment dwellers give up their pokey 28.8k modems and second phone lines, as they cruise the Internet at high speed.

The technology is called Overvoice and is a new kind of Internet connection, one that uses existing phone lines, but on a different frequency.

"You can be talking on the phone at the same time you're surfing the Internet at T-1 and above speeds," said Evans Anderson, of CAIS Internet, a company offering the new technology.

Here's how it works:

A single high-speed phone line brings the Internet to an Overvoice box at a central location in the building, and then to the individual phone lines. The technology only works on short phone lines, of about 500 feet or less, so it is suitable for use in dormitories, offices, and especially apartment buildings.

phone line
A high-speed phone line feeds the Overvoice box, which then distributes the signal  

"The wiring networks (in apartments) have this marvelous advantage to them, because you have a bunch of people with wires beginning in their apartments, and they all converge in the basement," says David Goodman, the inventor of Overvoice.

Howard Susskind, who works out of his apartment in Washington, has an Overvoice connection to the Internet. The connection is more than 50 times faster than his old 28.8k modem, and he says he never wants to go back.

"You know when you're in a hurry and your clients are in a hurry, that makes a big difference," Susskind said.

Users can expect to pay $30 to $40 a month for an Overvoice connection, but they will save almost that much by not needing an additional phone line.

hotel room
Hotels are a potential market for the technology  

"When you consider the number of services I can run at the same time, how critical it is to my business, it's just a tremendous value," says Susskind.

Hotels represent another potentially lucrative Overvoice market. One Washington hotel has already been outfitted with high-speed, in-room Internet access in the hope that it will lure business travelers.

A standard Ethernet hookup such as those found in many offices makes connecting a snap. Built-in software allows the hotel to bill for the service at rates of $9 to $15 a night.

Nearly a dozen hotels plan to install Overvoice this spring.

Reporter Rick Lockridge contributed to this report.


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