Internet Service Provider Guidelines

Many people find themselves committed to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that doesn't actually give to you what you thought you were getting.

In the following set of points, we raise the aspect of some points to remember to check BEFORE you sign on the dotted line. Whilst these points will ct as a guideline, it cannot be said that they are guaranteed to prevent all problems that might occur with your ISP, but it is hoped that they will prevent most potential problems.


When it comes to the aspect of price, there is a range of things you should be considering before making the decision. At the top of this list is just how much time you are going to spend. You can be sure that, if you have no experience on the Internet, you will possibly grossly underestimate this time factor. However, if you are only planning using it minimally (such as just for Email) then don't be taken in by the BULK BUY offers unless they have an open ended time usage (that is they do not have time restrictions such as they must be used in a one month period or whatever time restraint is on them) otherwise your hours you paid for will no longer be cheap.

For example: A special buy of 40 hours for $25.00 looks great (62.5 cents an hour) but if it must be used in a calendar month and you only use two (2) hours, then the actual cost become $12.50 an hour (too expensive).

As a warning, some companies keep such restrictions in the fine print. It is not illegal so it is up to you to read all the conditions and fine print BEFORE you sign up.


Access generally applies to two components: locational access and time of day access.

LOCATIONAL ACCESS: You need to consider whether or not your usage of the Internet will be just at home or whether you will want access from many different locations.

If the access is home only, then any Internet Service Provider that is operating in your town or area, that will give you local call access, is to be deemed a potential supplier for you.

On the other hand, if you will want access from many different locations, select only those that will give you the local call access from the locations you will be needing. There is nothing worse than the cheapest rate that requires STD calls to get that rate - you defeat the purpose.

TIME OF DAY ACCESS: Here is the area that price can make a big difference. Some companies provide different rates for different times of the day. It is like off peak rates with electricity, at lower volume times, the rates become cheaper. However, the cheapest rate is not much good to you if it is at the wrong time of day.

For example, a company a couple of years ago, advertised special bargain rates of just 50 cents an hour. The trouble was, you had to use those hours between midnight and 5am and if you went beyond that timespan you were charged at $12.00 an hour.


Whilst not wanting to be seen to be knocking some ISP's, people need to be considering the long term viability of their provider. With the industry due for a major competition blast in the near future, many small operators may pass from existence. There are many stories of people who have bulk purchased hours only to find that when they went to log on, their Provider was no longer in business.

Unfortunately, there is no concrete way of knowing this, so take as much care as you possibly can when signing up with small operators. This is rather sad for rural Australia as many such companies gave us the only Internet Access at local call rates for quite some time, yet the shake up may force such people out of business. One thing you can do is check the background of the company or person who is running the service.


Some service providers carry a minimum monthly access charge, regardless of how many hours you use. Usually this charge is in the form of "minimum x hours access time per month", which simply means you will be charged for that many hours minimum, regardless of the usage. If this time is 3 hours and you use only one (quite common for those using only Email access), then it becomes quite expensive.

I recently read of a case where the operator went overseas for an extended stay, not thinking about his conditions. When he returned, he discovered he had a bill for the six months he had been away - not a nice way to conclude a great holiday.


Not as important as some would make out but it does dictate the maximum speed you can access the Internet at. If you are only using Email, a Service Provider with a minimum speed of access of 28,800bps (or 28K) will be more than adequate. Internet users with graphics should look for as fast as they can get as time is money. Check with the provider as to the speed of access of all the modems in the access line (you have one number but the call is re-directed to a number of phonelines, depending upon the first one free and these lines may access different speed modems).


Many providers actually bill you for extra when you download files or programmes from a web site - that is your access will only cover Email and general Internet use. Check for this aspect with the potential Service Provider.


At this point in time, most Internet Service Providers will allow you a certain amount of space on which to place you own Internet Pages for the world to see. You need to check about this aspect if you want to create your own web pages.

I am predicting that it won't be that long before the "free" web page aspect actually disappears from Internet Service Providers as they seek to reduce their access charges to remain competitive. The "free" web site will be amongst the first to go, so it is something to keep in mind.

R. J. (Bob) Burling