Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online
2.16. Woe is me! There isn't a service provider in my area. What should I do?
So you've checked PDIAL and NIXPUB and asked your nerdy friends, all of whom
admit that you live in a backwater that doesn't have local Internet access.
Don't panic. If you've got $20,000 or so sitting around, you might just want to
start your own Internet service. Or you could move. Or you could bide your time
and pray that your cable company or phone company or Higher Power brings you
Internet service. More likely, though, you'll want to go with one of the
Out of the Area
If there isn't a service provider in your area, (which is likely unless you
live in a large, technologically well-developed city,) you may choose to use
one that's farther away. For instance, if you live in a rural area with no
local access, you can connect with a service located in another part of the
state or country. Of course, this will raise the cost of getting connected to
the Internet because you will need to pay long distance or toll telephone
charges. This can be a blessing in disguise; when you use long distance, you
have the luxury of choosing any service provider in the nation. This certainly
beats being stuck with a mediocre service provider, even one that is a local
phone call away.
Depending on your phone company's charges, you may actually save money by using
an out-of-state service provider with a long-distance phone call rather than a
closer one within your state. Thoroughly investigate the costs of calling
various parts of the nation.
If a service provider with the tools you want isn't a local phone call away, a
host that is accessible via a packet switching network or an 800 line can save
you from nasty surprises on your phone bill.
a Packet-Switching Network
Some Internet service providers and all commercial online services allow
connections through a "packet-switching network." These are nationwide systems
that users can use to connect to various online services using any of hundreds
of local phone numbers. A packet switching network (like SprintNet and Tymnet)
may provide you with a local phone number for access, even though your service
provider's computers are actually in Virginia, Cleveland, or wherever. One
packet-switching network can provide access to dozens of service providers.
Packet switching networks are nice, but they can drive up the price of using a
service, and they aren't always available in rural areas. They're typically
only available for use with larger commercial services. Some services that
offer packet-switching access do charge extra for that service.
An important advantage of commercial online services is that they, unlike most
public access providers, are available as a local phone call from hundreds of
an 800 Number
Several service providers offer service via a toll-free 800 number. Although
access through an 800 number saves surprises on your phone bill, it drastically
raises your hourly cost of access. When you use an 800 number, you don't pay
for the phone call, but the recipient of the call does. Internet service
providers who offer 800 access must pass the cost on to you in the form of
inflated hourly charges. Depending on your long-distance telephone charges,
using an 800 number may or may not save you money. Surcharges for using an 800
number are generally much steeper than packet-switching surcharges.
Warning: Rates for 800 access to the Internet hover around $10 an
hour. That's quite a price to pay for a "free" call.
800 numbers are great if you travel a lot but need to access the
Internet wherever you are. It's good to know you can always get online with a
nationwide 800 number rather than trying to find your area's local packet
switching network number or paying outrageous hotel long-distance charges.
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