My friend Tim is a solo practitioner in suburban New York City. He's grown dependent on the Internet for everyday tasks such as checking a lawyer's name when drafting a motion, or checking on the status of his cases. Those are the two main choices for most of us - at least those of us who'd rather not pay a couple of thousand dollars a month for a T 1 line. Both cable and DSL services have their quirks.

One Big TV Network Tim works out of his home's former sun porch. Unlike his professional colleagues in big-firm office suites with their access to networks and T 1 lines, he used to dial-in to his Internet provider. But as his dependence on the Web and e-mail grew, Tim got tired of dialing-in and then disconnecting over and over again. So he needed 'broadband,' or fast Internet access that was always connected and didn't need dialing up. Tim's - and many others' - choices were limited. The local cable TV company was a couple of months away from supplying cable modem service.

But a lot of Internet service providers and phone companies were vying to supply DSL, or digital subscriber line service. How fast? At least, and often more than 10 times the speed of a 56 K modem. Those are the two main choices for most of us - at least those of us who'd rather not pay a couple of thousand dollars a month for a T 1 line. Both cable and DSL services have their quirks. One Big TV Network.