The Lowdown on Internet Service Providers
The lowdown on Internet service providers is that there are a
number of things to consider before you make a decision about which
one provides the most cost-effective connection. Basically an Internet
service provider gives you a number to call that connects you to
the Internet via a telephone network. The Internet service provider
that you choose will be your personal gateway to the World Wide
Web as well as the organizer of all the material that is sent you
via the Internet.
The cost of an internet service provider
is a big factor. Unless you find a free ISP, you will pay a regular
fee for this service. This monthly fee is usually based on the amount
of time you intend to spend on your computer a month. The fee can
also be based on the amount of material that you intend to access
or download on your computer in a month. People who contract with
an ISP for the first time are usually charged an initial "set
The prices for time
based internet service provider fall into three categories. With
a prepaid hourly plan, you pay for use of a set number of hours
over a month with an additional charge for any overage hours. Some
ISP's also offer an hourly or per-minute rate, which is the most
cost efficient option for individuals who do not use their computers
much. Many companies also offer a flat rate or fixed charge per
month that allows the user unlimited use of the Internet service
provider's services. This last option is the best bet for individuals
who spend a great deal of time surfing the Internet or communicating
mainly by email or instant messenger.
A potentially inexpensive option is to pay your Internet Service
Provider by "weight" as opposed to time. This fee is based
on the amount of data that you expect to download onto your computer
from the Internet during a month. This is ideal for individuals
who use their computers to access emails but little else.
There are bargains to be had out there from
companies that offer cheaper rates for use during off-peak hours
such as night and weekends and Internet Service providers that offer
e-mail only plans. If you are a light user of your computer than
ask the ISP if they have such a plan in place before you purchase
a more costly plan that offers services that you don't really need.
To get connected to the Internet, your computer
and software will need to be configured on your computer correctly.
Some Internet service providers send you out a starter kit containing
software and written instructions to do this, while others take
you through the process over the phone. Some ISPs also offer support
in your own home, but this usually costs extra.
Instructions given on installation disks
or over the phone should be fairly straightforward, but if you're
new to computers or the Internet, hands-on help from a customer
representative from the Internet service provider in your own home
can be the best option.
The lowdown on Internet service providers
is that many of them like to sell you services that you don't need.
It is a good idea to shop around for a good Internet Service Provider
to find the one that provides you with best customer service and
most cost-effective plan for you.