An ISP is required by private individuals and most companies to allow connection to the Internet. For private individuals and small companies, connection to an ISP is normally via a dial-up modem connected to a personal computer. For most companies, connection to an ISP is via a PSI or ADSL connection. A few large companies have a direct connection to the internet. Below are listed some key features that an ISP will offer that could influence the choice of ISP.
Reliability - there is a limit to the number of connections that an ISP can support. It is frustrating when it is not possible to connect to an ISP, and also when an existing connection is dropped for no apparent reason.
Coverage - the cost of telephone calls will be high, unless the connection to your ISP can be made at the cost of local rate call. Most ISP's only have access from within the UK. If you need international access, the choice is limited.
Performance - active surfers of the World Wide Web will need an ISP that allows pages to be displayed at a reasonable speed. The serious personal user and businesses will need an ISP that supports PSI or ADSL connections as well as standard dial-up connections.
Support - for the novice or not so experienced user, it is important that telephone support is available during normal hours. Web based support is of little use if you cannot connect to your ISP. The cost of telephone support does vary significantly, from free (inclusive) to the cost of a premium rate call.
E-Mail - this was one of the original purposes of the Internet. The ability to send and receive electronic messages between other people and companies. Receivers and senders of large volumes of E-Mail may need to select an ISP that does not impose a quota or charge for usage. The ISP should almost always be available to receive E-Mail.
Web Space - Some ISP's do not provide any web space. Others will allow limited use for personal or business purposes. Creating web pages to describe you or your company can be a valuable way of informing others.
MAC or PC - Most ISP's only support connections from users on Personal Computers. Users with Apple Macintosh computers will have
Costs - there are a wide variety of costs and levels of service provided by ISP's. There are a large number of free ISP's where the only cost to the user is the cost of the calls. Some ISP's now provide free access to the internet, but only after a fixed subscription. Original ISP's require a subscription to be paid, and telephone calls and usage charges will be in addition to this. As a general rule, you should expect to get what you have paid for.
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