Updated: Oct 11, 1999
There are literally thousands of Internet providers located all over the
world ranging from giant organizations such as AT&T down to little outfits
run out of someone's garage.
ISPs differ in many ways:
Some ISP Selection Tips
- The cheapest ISP is rarely the best choice.
ISPs don't just use the money you pay to buy caviar and yachts, they use it
to invest in improved equipment.
The lowest cost ISPs buy fewer servers and modems, which means more
busy signals and slower network response.
- ISPs usually offer between a week and a month as a trial period.
This should be enough to find out if they're any good.
Be sure to call their support line with a question or two, since the most
notable difference among ISPs is in the quality of the support.
- Most people pay for their ISP accounts with a credit card.
But if you don't have a credit card, they'll all take a check.
Call the ISP you're interested in to make arrangements.
(People without credit cards might also consider getting a Visa or MC
"check card" which looks like a credit card but payments come out of
your bank account like a check.)
- Once you're sure you like your ISP, most of them will give you a
substantial discount if you prepay for six months or a year.
- If you use your computer when you travel, check whether your ISP has
arrangements to dial in from the places you travel to.
Many local and regional ISPs have reciprocal arrangements, notably a system called
iPass, that let you
dial in from many points around the US and in other countries.
If you travel internationally, IBM (at www.ibm.net) has
dial ins all over the world.
Compuserve has access in Europe.
Finding an ISP in your area
The List of Internet Providers
is the most complete list of ISPs we know.
You can search by country or state or area code.
If searching by area code and you live in one of the many parts of the
country with exploding area codes, be sure to check all of the area codes
that are a local call for you.
- Providers of Commercial Internet Access
(POCIA) is another good list of providers, by state or area code.
They try to list local/regional and national providers separately.
- The Online Connection
describes national on-line services and ISPs, with links to on-line reviews.
- Also check the business section of your local newspaper and the Internet
section (yes, really) of the yellow pages to find local providers who
might not be listed elsewhere.
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