Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dialup Internet Services in the Shoals (11/2005)

Q: I am online with PeoplePc. I would like to know what is the best dial-up service provider that you would recommend. Looking forward to hearing from you. Vernie H. from Rogersville

A: My first answer is none of the above. At just over twenty-five dollars a month, high speed internet is cheap enough for almost everyone these days. However, you folks out in the sticks and in smaller towns like Rogersville don’t have much of a choice since cheap high-speed hasn’t made it there yet. I expect that to change within two years as satellite and broadband wireless become more ubiquitous. Until then, you can almost flip a coin to choose your dial-up provider.

From what my customers tell me, services for $9.95 a month seem to be just as reliable as services for $24.95 a month. My customers seem to be satisfied (and sometimes dissatisfied) with PeoplePC. They also seem to be satisfied (and sometimes dissatisfied) with NetZero, Wal-Mart Connect, Netscape, Earthlink, America Online and a half-dozen other dial-up providers.

Some professionals depend on dial-up internet access for their business. If they have a problem, they need quick technical support from people who speak a language you can understand instead of some fifty-cents an hour person in Pakistan who can barely speak-a-de-English. For those types of people, I recommend HiWAAY Internet service based just up the road in Huntsville. Call them at 1888-2HiWAAY and a real person will pick up the phone within two minutes. That’s worth a lot to someone who needs that kind of support. As an added bonus, their technicians speak and understand fluent Alabamian.

My personal pick for cheap, non-professional, home use, great-for-grandma-and-the-kids service is Wal-Mart connect. It offers the ease-of use that AOL is known for and Wal-Mart seems to be doing a good job of keeping the lines clear for users to dial in. At $9.95 a month, it's priced right, too.

Services from Bellsouth, Earthlink, Netscape and PeoplePC don’t require any special software such as that provided by Wal-Mart and AOL. That sits well with the savvier computer user who doesn’t like the customized “easy to use” interface offered by those services.

AOL is the best known dial-up provider. People are leaving AOL by the millions for high speed providers or cheaper services. At twenty-five bucks a month I can't blame them. If you are an AOL user and live in an area served by high speed service providers, you really should consider dropping AOL and going with a high speed service.

Some people change ISPs for the wrong reasons. For example, I've had many customers complain that they "got a virus" from so-and-so Internet service or that they “didn’t have all these spyware problems” with so-and-so-Internet service. The truth is that if you don’t have current, updated antivirus and antispyware software, you will get a virus no matter what ISP you use.

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