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By COREY A. WASHINGTON

Got a computer? Got an internet connection? Still waiting on dial-up?

You're far from alone.

Hitching a ride on the technology wave is not cheap. And catching up to technology's standards (as it changes) is no different.

I often talk about the African-American community not participating is technology at the same level as other races in the U.S. for various reasons, but it all boils down to the almighty dollar.

Believe me, with tech trends looking like fashion accessories, I am certain everyone would get in with the times, granted they have the cash.

The same applies to networking technologies.

According to Leichtman Research Group, in 2003, about 49 percent of Americans continued to use dial-up internet services, though about 25 million homes are using broadband services like cable and DSL.

Call me the bearer of bad news, but if you're interested in broadband access, get ready to adjust your wallet.

Studies indicate broadband prices will increase about 10 percent in regulatory fees from companies such as SBC Communications, Verizon and Qwest Communications.

Too often, I use my four-letter F-word (fear, not the other one) as I analyze the lack of emphasis on technology in the African-American community, but to put this as simple as I possible, broadband prices are becoming unaffordable.

Still, the advantages of a broadband internet connection are a significant boost compared to sluggish dial-up connections. We're talking about jumps in internet speeds of about 1.5 megabits per second. In case you don't comprehend geek-speak, that means you could save a lot of time.

Those of you who have already tasted the ultra-sweet benefits of stealth-fast downloads and the hefty bill due each month are probably taking advantage of high-speed access at work or buddying up close to those willing to pay the cash.

Shame on you!

But there is a new reasonable alternative out there which may fit you.

Recent television commercials have surfaced, advertising dial-up services that are 5 to 10 times quicker than regular dial-up services ... and for merely 5 dollars more each month.

The service works by quickly loading frequently visited web sites out of its memory, like Yahoo.com. Unfortunately, this service does not speed up file downloads.

It's a favorable deal, but there's an inevitable downside.

If you're dialing up to visit the usual spots, then this may be for you. But on the other hand of this internet barrier, it's seems like a waste of 5 dollars when you engage in routine surfing.

Who knows your finances better than you? Certainly, not yours truly.

But the cards are on the table. Deal your hand to your advantage.

For feedback, send your e-mails to tekreporter@yahoo.com or log onto
www.coreywashington.com for more information.

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