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Consumer Tips

Choosing an ISP

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) enable you to connect to the Internet. There are thousands of these companies and it can be difficult to select among them. Here are a few things to consider while whittling down the choices:

  1. What "local access" really means. Check to see if ISPs list an access number in your hometown. This is important - you only want to be charged for a local call each time you connect to the Internet. If you live in a rural area where connecting may require a toll call, a regional ISP may be cheaper than a national ISP.

  2. Cost-effective flat rates. For frequent users of the Internet, an ISP with a monthly, flat unlimited usage rate is probably the best. Also, you can save money with many ISPs if you order their services six months or a year at a time, rather than pay month-to-month.

  3. Trusty tech support. Determine if tech support is fast and reliable, and that the number is toll-free.

  4. Web site hosting. Find out if ISPs allow you to post your own Web site on their servers. It's also helpful if they provide web-site-authoring tools.

Any ISP should enable you to log on without getting busy signals, receive email with reasonable speed and keep you connected. Before you choose an ISP, ask friends and family members about their experiences with various providers.

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