Funstitcher - hi, your post sounds like you may have limited options. First things first - how often do you use the computer to connect to the Internet? If you're only doing it once/twice a day for 10-15 minutes at a time, then replacing the phone cord if your cat chews on it (I have 3 cats - been there, done that!) is cheaper than the options outlined by the others. A handyman or the phone company installer can probably come in and run a new line extension through the walls to put a phone outlet close to your computer setup - how much is it worth to you?
- Your landlord may not approve of you loosening the baseboard moulding to run a phone line behind it, plus you have to be very careful about putting a nail through the wires and shorting out your line. If you're using dialup, you probably use the same line as your regular phone service...short out that line and you can't call out or receive calls until its fixed.
- The wireless devices David_wv describes will work but they work at reduced modem speeds in the cases I've explored. Right now, the best speed you can get via dialup is 53kbps; wireless will drop that down to around 45 kbps or slower. That means you're online longer, tying up the phone line longer...
- The wireless broadband can work - if you have that service available. I lived in such a rural area in VA's Northern Neck (Morattico, VA 22523) I was barely able to get a 23kbps connection on my phone line. (We didn't have cable TV; in fact, with DirecTV I was allowed to purchase the East Coast and West Coast network feeds (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and PBS) because I was 75 miles from the nearest major cities (Richmond and Hampton, VA)). Broadband wasn't going to be there in my lifetime although Hurrican Isabel may have sped that timeline up...I ended up increasing my connection speed via the Direcway 2-way satellite setup - at a cost of $600 for the equipment purchase/professional setup (required since it transmitted to the satellite as well as received) and a monthly $60 service fee. Then, if you do have broadband available, Tomh points out your neighbors may find it more convenient to use your wireless connection than to buy their own service. And, who's to say nobody'll try to hack into your computer if you leave it on and unattended? (I have DSL now and I turn my PC off when I'm going to leave it unattended more than a few minutes...)
So - you've had some options outlined by the others. I've hopefully helped you think through some cost and practicality issues involved with each. Let us know how this ends up for you. Good luck! Jim D/West Point, VA