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Choosing an ISP (Internet service provider)

This page is out of date. High-speed internet access for travellers has changed dramatically since it was written. To be updated.

Here are some criteria to consider when choosing a service provider (ISP):

  • Will you usually access the Internet from only one location, or do you travel and need to work from different locations using a laptop computer? If you travel, you definitely want an ISP with either a nationwide access number (at local call rates) or an ISP with many dial-up local access numbers.
  • Do you need high-speed or permanent Internet access, rather than ordinary dial-up modem access? Meeting these requirements is more expensive, and may involve equipment (such as a cable connection) that you can’t take with you when traveling. If you choose a high-speed or permanent-access plan, be sure you can access your account by modem as well.
  • Do you want or need the additional services that some ISPs (like AOL) provide? If not, consider a cheaper provider, but make sure they have the services you do need.
  • Do you want to use the “home page” space provided by your ISP to host your business pages? If so, will your ISP let you have your own domain name? How much extra will they charge for hosting your own domain name? (See also What’s the connection between your ISP, your e-mail address, and your website address (URL)?)
  • If you travel, be sure your ISP provides POP3, SMTP, and Webmail services. You need to be able to receive and send your e-mail using any e-mail reader (such as Eudora or Outlook Express) and using a web-based interface – not just using the ISP’s own interface.
  • Do you want newsgroup access? If so, make sure your ISP provides that; not all do.If you are planning to have your own website, be sure your ISP allows FTP access, so you can upload your pages, preferably using your choice of FTP software, not just theirs.

Last updated 1 January 2004