ISP Important Information

What’s an ISP?

ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. This is the company that connects you to the Internet. You must register with an ISP to get an account otherwise you will not be able to access the Internet.

What Kinds of ISPs Are There?

Some “Online Services” require the use of proprietary access software such as America Online and Prodigy. These companies not only provide you with access to the Internet but also with special browser software for accessing web sites and sending email. There are many other ISPs that will provide you with access to the Internet and also provide you with browser software such as Netscape Navigator which you can use to access the web. Your computers may already come with browser software such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer installed. In this case, you don't need additional browser software but you still will need an ISP to provide you with a connection to the Internet.

How do I set up an account with an ISP?

The easiest way to get set up is to request an Internet set-up disk from your ISP. When you run the installation program, all of the ISP's necessary information will be added automatically to your computer. If you're brave or have done this before, you can request all the set-up information verbally from your ISP and input it yourself. You will have to check your computer manual and browser software manual  to see where all the necessary information would go. You would need to know all the information below in order to configure your own computer to get access to the Internet.

How Do I Find an ISP?

Ironically, one of the best ways to find information on ISPs in on the Internet itself but you need to have access to the Internet from another source in order to do this! If you can get access through home, a friend, or a local library, look at the website  which has one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date listings of ISPs.

Also, don’t hesitate to ask people who live and work near you which ISP they use. Sometimes, the best way to find a good ISP is by recommendation. Things to consider when selecting an ISP are:

  1. Cost:  ISPs must have a local phone number to call for access to the Internet. Otherwise, your phone bill could be enormous. Also, find out if there is a flat fee for unlimited monthly connect time or whether they charge on an hourly basis. Typical monthly rates for unlimited service are around $20. Check to see if there are reduced rates for educators. Some ISPs offer a free trial period. Take advantage of this if possible. Don’t agree to a long term contract with an ISP unless you’ve tried it yourself for a few months or its highly recommended by someone you trust.

  3. Technical Support: Your ISP needs to have expert, experienced, user-friendly, technical support personnel who would be available in the evening hours (at least until 8 p.m.). Also check if their technical support number is an 800 number.

  5. Accessibility: Your ISP needs to have sufficient facilities (modems, servers, etc.) to insure easy-access during school hours. It is vital that teachers not get a busy signal or be unable to connect if they are going to use the Internet as part of their classroom activities. Reliable service is extremely important!

Additional Resources

Internet Service Provider Criteria Especially for educators
ISP Selection Criteria
Steps to a PPP account
How to Find the Best Local Internet Service Provider
CNET's Ultimate ISP guide
TheList ISP listings
TheDirectory ISP listings
Excite's Listing of ISPs Many national ISPs listed