Re: Quality of Internet Providers

John Osborne (
Sat, 24 Feb 1996 06:35:02 +1000


Good question. I get asked this frequently. I regularly use about
4 to 5 Internet Service Providers (ISP's), always on the lookout for
the "right one". The first two criteria you mention are important.
If your prospective ISP doesn't offer 28.8 or better, look somewhere
else, for starters. You will be much happier with the fastest
connection *you* can support/afford instead of being artificially
constrained by *their* equipment.

Local access number is *very* important, otherwise you'll be paying a
surcharge to the phone company for long distance in addition to the
connect charges levied by the ISP.

That said, look to see how they charge. If you are a casual user
(say 3-5 hours per month) then look for a charging plan that only
costs for the hours you use. If you plan to use the Internet for
longer periods of time, look for a provider that has a "flat fee"
charging structure such that you pay $xxx/month for a certain number
of hours (which could be unlimited) and a smaller per-hour fee after

Make sure you *ask* how many phone lines/connection are available.
I trialled an ISP here who charge rate was only $1.00/hour but the
limited number of lines meant lots of busy signals unless I used the
service at weird hours.

Ask how your prospective ISP is connected to the rest of the Internet.
You will be happier if they are directly on, say, MCI's backbone
rather than having to hop thru a bunch of other people's routers
before you get anywhere.

Does your prospective ISP offer Email? Not everyone does so if it's
important to you, ask.

Does your prospective ISP offer USENET? Not every ISP does due to the
large amount of disk space (up to 9 gigabytes, I believe, for a full
USENET feed) it takes up. This may not be a consideration for you
but USENET is very important to me.

What about technical support? Aside from the "usual" initial setup
problems new people have getting connected, how knowledgeable about
problems are your ISP's staff? When are they available?
Can they help with Email problems, mail setup problems, Web page
authoring, third-party package problems (Chemaleon, Netscape, Eudora,
Pegasus, WS-FTP, the list is endless), SLIP setups, PPP setups?

What payment methods are available? How often will you be billed?
Can you get an interim statement/usage information or do you have to
put up with a monthly heart attack when the bill arrives?

I hope this helps.

Regards, John

Steven Gruchawka wrote:
> Can someone tell me what criteria does one use to select an internet
> provider for using CU-SeeMe over a 28,800 bps modem - aside from price and
> whether they have a local or 800 number?
> Some providers have much faster equipment and more phone lines. How do you
> determine this in advance before you sign up? What questions do you ask
> them?
> I have heard of "T1" connections. What is this? What other types of
> connections are there - which is best?
> I am presently signed up with two providers using MacTCP\MacPPP. One I have
> to pay for by the hour but get very good service most of the time over an
> 800 number. The other is unlimited access at a local phone number but
> connections are flaky - more often than not giving me "does not have a DNS
> entry" error messages when using Netscape 2.0. I want to switch this latter
> provider for a more reliable one, but don't what to ask, so as not to get
> another flaky provider. I've talked to this provider on they phone to
> troubleshoot and get the impression they are stumbling around in the dark
> like I am, and don't quite know what they are doing.
> By the way, I found this site that gives a list of Internet Providers by
> state or area code - it lists prices and great detail:
> Thanks, -Steve