Based on what you know now, you should first decide what your needs are.
If you mainly want the Internet for sending e-mail, occasional chats, infrequent browsing, then you probably are perfectly happy with regular analog modem dial-up access. In this case, you should invest in a good quality 56K modem and find a good ISP.
For dial-up access, you will have lots of choices. You should first talk to friends and neighbors and find out what ISP they use. This is the best way to get unbiased feedback about service and quality. Check also with local computer clubs, magazines and newspapers for more choices. Don’t forget to use the checklist provided earlier in this guide to make sure you get the best deal and cover all your needs. To find out what options you have, you should also head to these web sites, http://www.isps.com and http://thelist.internet.com/. These sites contain thousands of ISP listings. But don’t worry, it’s not too overwhelming since you can search by name, price or area code to narrow it down to your needs.
If you are using the Internet frequently for research, downloading or uploading a fair amount of data, want to play multi-player network games, want to use the Internets multimedia capabilities like live audio or video streaming, etc., then you should look into DSL or cable access. Don’t forget to use the checklist provided earlier in this guide to make sure you get the best deal and cover all your needs. To find out who offers DSL in your area, you can start by contacting your phone company. Or, browse this web site, http://thelist.internet.com/, find your area code, then look under dedicated services for companies that offer DSL.
To get cable modem access, your choice of providers is limited right now. Call your local cable TV company and ask for cable modem Internet access. They will tell you if and when it is available in your neighborhood. If you can’t get it yet, don’t give up. This service is rapidly expanding.
Check out the following web sites for great broadband information:
Another good site to check if you can get speedy Internet access, such as DSL, cable, satellite or wireless, is http://www.getspeed.com. Simply enter your Zip code, street address and the first part of your phone number. If any of the services mentioned above are available in your area, it will tell you and provide you with a link to the provider as well as some info about the type of high-speed service, your distance to the TelCo switch etc.
Just remember: You are buying service and you want to get the best value for your money. You want to be able to commit for a long time to avoid the hassle of switching ISPs every few months. If you just invest a few hours of research, be critical, analyze your options, you can find what you need. Most ISPs offer a 30 day free trial so you can try them out for a month and get out without losing any money. Also, ask for different payment plans. Some ISPs offer a lower rate if you pay quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
Don’t waste your money on bad Internet service. Go out there and find the ISP that serves you best.
– Alex –