Choosing the right ISP

One thing that I have never ceased to be amazed at is the way many computer users make purchases that are completely unsuited to their needs.I have seen small businesses purchase expensive digital processing equipment to take one photo a month, elderly people that buy the fastest computer on the market to word process and fathers that buy their kids the slowest of computers to play high demand games on.

One of the most common stumbling blocks seems to be those who pay £14.99 to an ISP (Internet Service Provider) that they use for half an hour a week.To me this seems like a waste – If you think about it in relation to real life; would you go and buy a Merc for your weekly trip to the shops?

The first step to finding which ISP is must suitable for yourself is to consider what you actually need from these people that you will be using to get you onto the Internet.Questions you should be asking could possibly be along the lines of the following:

How often will you be using the Internet?This is probably the most important step in establishing your needs.A large number of ISPs give you the option of going either ‘Pay as you go’ or ‘Subscription based’.Subscription based ISP’s usually require you to make an upfront monthly payment (typically £12.99 – £14.99) which will then give you free phone access to their service so you can spend as long as you like online without worrying about your Internet phone bill.A pay as you go Internet service should involve no monthly fee but you’ll be responsible for your local rate Internet calls.

Which telephone network are you on?Eurobell customers in the area will benefit from cheaper local call rates (therefore possibly favouring a pay as you go Internet service) but will be unavailable to take advantage of any of the subscription based free phone Internet services, with the exception of AOL.

Do you need more than one e-mail account?Many ISPs now allow you to have a different e-mail address for every member in the family which is especially useful if you have, for example a teenage son or daughter who is concerned about their privacy.

Do you require your own Internet web space?Many ISPs offer a limited amount of web space which can be used to upload your own websites on to, either for personal or business use.If you require a service like this, or think that you may do in the future then it would be useful to check the details of the package provided by your potential new ISP.

Do you require any additional features?Some ISPs such as AOL offer their own software that can be used for accessing news information, sending and receiving e-mail or using Internet chat rooms.Some people swear by software such as this whereas others think of it as a hindrance – Most importantly is that you are happy with the software you will be using to access the Internet.Most other ISPs such as Freeserve connect you directly without using any of their own software and then rely on you to use programs such as Internet Explorer and Outlook Express to view Internet chat rooms, send e-mails etc.

Below I have briefly summarised some potential ISPs that you may want to look at which I have had good experiences with in the past – I am not endorsing any particular company and so I recommend that you check out the deals on offer yourself by heading to www.ispreview.co.uk.

Tiscali (www.tiscali.co.uk) – A pay as you go Internet service that offers a high speed connection for Eurobell and BT.A subscription based service is also available for BT Internet customers only.

Eurobell Internet (www.eurobell.co.uk) – Offers a cheaper pay as you go Internet service for Eurobell customers only – 1p a minute all times of the day.

Freeserve (www.freeserve.co.uk) – A fast service which I would recommend for 0800 subscription customers as their monthly line rental is only £12.99 compared with the usual £14.99 that most ISPs offer.Available to BT customers only.

AOL (www.aol.co.uk) – Offer a 0800 subscription service for Eurobell customers as well as BT.AOL use their own specialist software which some may find useful and easy to use.Recommend you try them for 30 days free of charge by calling 0800 3765599.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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