The first step to getting on the Internet is selecting an Internet
Service Provider (ISP). An Internet service provider provides Internet
services, usually over phone lines, for a fee. When choosing an ISP
there are several things you must consider:
Type of Service.
There are several types of Internet services that you may obtain.
They are: dialup services, text based services, cable access, and
The most common service is called "dialup service." This service
lets you connect to the Internet using a modem and a phone line.
Dialup accounts are fast enough for web surfing, and limited video
Text based services are still offered by many ISP's. There are two
types of text based services. One type is a limited account that
displays a text based menu of things you can do on the Internet.
The other type is called a "Shell Account." Shell accounts are
very powerful but require that you know how to use UNIX.
Cable access is a service that is available in some cities. It
gives you access to the Internet using the cable companiy's lines.
The advantage of this is that it provides an extremely fast
Dedicated access is mostly for businesses. It provides a fast
permanent connection to the Internet over a special line that is
leased from the phone company. The only reason you might want to
get dedicated access is if you're setting up a major corporate web
site, or if you want to start your own ISP.
Commercial Vs. Non-commercial ISP
or not. If you are a student your school may be able to provide you
with an Internet connection. Your school may allow you to use the
Internet with their computers at their facilities. Many colleges
allow students to connect to their Internet services from home.
Some cities have ISP's called "freenets." Freenets usually offer
Internet services for free or for a small fee. The downside to
freenets is that many of them only provide text based services.
If you're not a student and your city doesn't have a freenet you'll
need to pay for a commercial account.
Your location is a large factor in choosing an ISP. Since you'll
most likely want to connect to the Internet over a phone line, you'll
want to get an ISP that's located in your city. If you live in a
moderate sized city you should have a choice of several ISP's.
Small ISP's Vs. Large ISP's.
You have to choose if you want to use a large ISP or a Small ISP.
Large ISP's have more locations nationwide so you may be able to
connect to your ISP when you're traveling. Another advantage of
large ISP's is that they offer lower prices than the smaller ISP's.
The advantages of small ISP's are that many of them offer faster
Internet services, better technical support, and less busy signals.
Small ISP's have these advantages because they have fewer users to
bog down their Internet connction and cause busy signals. Most large
ISP's provide terrible technical support. The people at their
service desks don't know very much and can't help most of the time.
When you call a small ISP a lot of times the person who answers is
the system's administrator who can help you a lot better than a
help desk clerk.
Now you need to ask yourself how much you are willing to pay for
Internet services. ISP's have to ways of charging for their
services. They can either charge by the hour of usage or they may
charge a flat fee for unlimited usage. We recomend that you go with
an ISP that charges a flat fee for unlimited usage. Rates for
dialup access range from $8 to $30 a month. Shell accounts range
from $5 to $20 a month. Cable access ranges from $30 to $100 per
month. Dedicated access ranges from $500 to $15000 a month.
Anther important thing to consider is speed. Most dialup accounts
connect at 33.6kbps (thats thousands of bits per second). This
is fast enough for basic web surfing. Cable access ranges from
128kbps to 2Mbps (millions of bytes per second). Dedicated access
ranges from 33.6kbps to over 100Mbps.