On a topical map of California, the Central Valley is easy to spot as an elongated depression that runs over 450 miles from end to end. The center of California's agricultural efforts, the valley is mostly rural. Although it's not difficult to find broadband cable Internet service within the populous areas, such as Sacramento, Modesto and Visalia, it can be difficult to find services in the more rural agricultural-based districts. Options for Internet in these areas include dial-up, satellite and wireless.
Although not the most ideal way of connecting to the Internet, dial-up is a reliable and cheap way of getting online. For those consumers with simple needs, such as checking email and business listings, dial-up remains a viable option. Low-cost solutions for dial-up services include Net Zero, America Online, and SOSInet, a locally operated Internet service provider. Although dial-up doesn't offer rural consumers the high speeds of other services such as DSL and broadband, it is a quick and easy way of getting online without a huge financial commitment.
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is not available in all areas. This particular technology allows subscribers to transmit digital information over local telephone lines. DSL requires you to have a modem to translate the signal into digital data to the Internet service provider and usually has an installation fee attached along with a deposit for the modem. Digital subscriber lines are available in most areas of the Central Valley and are provided by such companies as DSL Extreme, PC Magic Network, Web Universe, and Snowline Communications.
Wherever cable television is found, broadband Internet service is usually available. Broadband is exceptionally fast, but it requires subscribers to obtain a modem via an installation process that usually has a nominal fee. Broadband providers in the Central Valley include Central Valley Broadband, Coastal Web Online, Comcast and Qwest Communications. Many subscribers also choose to have a digital phone installed with their broadband services as part of an economical bundled package.
Many extremely rural homeowners find that satellite or Wi-Fi-based services are the most cost-effective way of meeting their communication needs. Satellite services use a specially designed modem to relay information to and from the consumer's home. Much like broadband, satellite Internet services are often packaged with television programming and can be relatively cost-effective. Wi-Fi works by using cellular towers to communicate and has a particular advantage of working wherever you have cell phone access, even when you're not at home. Providers in the area include Wild Blue, Hughes Net and Velociter Wireless.
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