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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 up" fee.

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.

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