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Cheap Dial-Up ISPs Gain Ground 209

prostoalex writes "PC World takes a look at the proliferation of sub-$10-per-month Internet service providers and notices that the market for low-priced dial-up access is actually up in this weak economy. The low rates, with $4.75 per month quoted as the cheapest, are not abundant with features, and many of the dial-up providers don't give you an e-mail account or Web space, but it seems to be a plausible option for many. But reliability is a big issue, since 'about 20 of the startup ISPs [...] shutter within a year.'"
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Cheap Dial-Up ISPs Gain Ground

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  • Its a ploy! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Uart ( 29577 ) <> on Thursday July 17, 2003 @05:37AM (#6459561) Homepage Journal
    The Broadband companies and the Internet Porn companies are teaming up to get people to buy broadband connections for faster porn access.

    They get them hooked via these cheapie dial-up outfits, then migrate them over to the cable or DSL when the porn addiction sets in.
  • by risk-dev ( 246265 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @05:37AM (#6459562)
    saying that you can get DSL-like speeds, i'm sure Joe Sixpack will get in on that $9.95 a month deal in a hurry.
    • Who needs NetZero? (Score:5, Informative)

      by usotsuki ( 530037 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @06:15AM (#6459664) Homepage
      I prepaid $54 for 6 months of Internet access from System Resource [] in Niagara Falls. They're a small operation - only serve a two-county area - but they're easy to set up, and they kinda-sorta support FreeBSD and Linux. (I can connect both from Linux and Windows.)

      That, for the math-impaired Slashbots, is $9.00 a month. With no proprietary software (no software at all!). Take that, NetZero and your proprietary, ad-driven, Internet Exploder-based dialers!

      I'm sure if you look, you'll find something similar in your own areas.

    • It's $14.95 a month for the fast vresion ... and the speeds are merely because they compress pages at their end and decompress at the user's end. File downloads are no faster than usual.

      I'm using NetZero at the moment. I'm looking for a dialup. Phone lines adequate to support DSL will arrive in 2010, unless some one with a lot of political pull moves into the hood.

  • Travelers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by awerg ( 201320 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @05:39AM (#6459566)
    I travel a lot and would love a cheap international dialup account. No frills, just a connection. With yahoo, hotmail, VPN, web access to corporate email I do not need webspace or an email account. Now, If I could find a way to bypass those annoying hotel sur-charges for phone calls.
    • WiFi (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @06:20AM (#6459676) Homepage
      Hopefully, WiFi should make connecting to the internet from around the world a painless alternative to dial-up. Of course, I would expect small charges to access them. But I don't see why you couldn't have 1 hour access for a few bucks. That should be enough time to grab your e-mail and small documents over VPN to the local drive.
    • Re:Travelers (Score:3, Informative)

      by rf0 ( 159958 )
      YOu want someting like Gric. I suggest that you do a google for Gric providers. IF in the UK I've found JetSet Rome [] really good

    • Re:Travelers (Score:3, Informative)

      by jdreed1024 ( 443938 )
      I travel a lot and would love a cheap international dialup account. No frills, just a connection. With yahoo, hotmail, VPN, web access to corporate email I do not need webspace or an email account. Now, If I could find a way to bypass those annoying hotel sur-charges for phone calls.

      You want iPass []. Our company just signed up with them. It's pay as you go (so you don't waste money each month if you're not traveling). You do still get stuck with the hotel charges for local calls, but more

      • by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @09:19AM (#6460202) Homepage
        We have it and it works for our international travelers. iPass also has US domestic service, but the pricing is about $5/hr, which is a bit steep for anything other than occasional use. Unless you have a huge number of users, you probably need an iPass reseller, such as Worldhook.
        For those who need international dialup, there is no reason to be paying a monthly charge, because nobody offers flat-rate international service.
      • Re:Travelers (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ncc74656 ( 45571 )
        Another possibility is MaGlobe []...they've had multiple local numbers everywhere I've gone, and 69/hr is cheap enough for occasional use. (My primary access is cable modem [] service...I use the dial-up mainly to access my mail server, which is parked on a cable-modem static IP.)

        I manually configured dial-up networking in WinXP to use it (dialers suck), so you should be able to set it up under Linux easily enough if that's what you use.

    • For business, just insist on high-speed internet access to the room. Hilton Garden Inns and Mariott Spring Hill Suites both have or promise this feature for free in most locations already, and are rolling it out to others in time. Plenty of other hotels are offering it for $10/night, which isn't too bad for a $100 hotel room, especially if it winds up as part of your room charge for expense reports.

      I haven't had any problems with VPNs; it seems like their only "security" is for access control and monito
    • No frills, just a connection. With yahoo, hotmail, VPN, web access to corporate email I do not need webspace or an email account.

      Have you tried looking at hotmail with a dailup lately? Unless you block the adverts, it's impractical. The same can be said for windoze based remote tools, which I've seen crawl over fast dedicated corporate lines.

      Dialups work with normal text based content. You can do pop, TLS, ssh and some modest surfing. Well make websites can upload you some good graphics, but the avera

  • Logon (Score:5, Informative)

    by Talisman ( 39902 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @05:40AM (#6459575) Homepage
    All you need is a way on.

    As for e-mail, you can use Hotmail, Yahoo! or any of the other hundreds (thousands?) of free e-mail providers.

    Or, use Cyber-Rights for free, SECURE, e-mail that isn't gleaned by the hosts for marketing info.


    If you have a way onto the 'Net, all the other stuff can be had for free.

    • Re:Logon (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Uart ( 29577 )
      In many parts of the US dial-up is still the only way to go, so unless you really NEED IMAP or POP3 access to your email (I think Yahoo provides that anyway, for a fee), these services are probably the way to go.

      If you are using a webmail service for your email, you also don't really need to worry too much about your ISP going out of business, because your contact info wouldn't change.
      • There's satellite access available for those folks who can't get cable modem or DSL (although of course the upload is dialup). While the lag isn't great for gaming, basic browsing is much faster than dialup...
        • Re:Logon (Score:4, Informative)

          by Talking Goat ( 645295 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @01:05PM (#6462658)
          I would like to say, however, that the only real major provider of satellite "broadband" (I use the term loosely) is a terrible provider. DirecWay... I don't know if they just don't care if their customers hate them, or what.

          The biggest problem DirecWay has is the relative unreliability of their system. It is constantly plagued by DNS server outages, proxy problems, and oftentimes leaves it's customers to use dial up until whatever the problem is "clears up". Not to mention that the latency is so high that most FTP's disconnect unless you have the ping on the server set to something around 900-950ms.

          The customer service is deplorable. DirecWay decided to outsource their phone techs to an outfit in India or something, and there is absolutely no way to get a problem solved with those guys. Between the unintelligible attempt at English language and the silly level of technical incompetence, you end up just not calling them for anything. I've called twice, over simple things such as needing POP3 server info and whatnot. I didn't get that info, and figured out that if you want to get anything done with DirecWay, you have to figure it out for yourself.

          But honestly, I (kinda) knew about these problems before I signed up. I had done research on DWay, but I just needed faster downloads. Faster uploads don't happen with DWay, expect about 45kbps. Just check out the satellite forum on Broadband Reports; you'll read the horror that we live with.

          The only other provider in the US (that I know of) is Starband, but from what i hear the service is just as shoddy, but with even lower speeds. I can't testify to that for a fact, but it seemed like the lesser of the two providers, so I went with DirecWay. Fortunately, I'm moving soon, so I'll be sending this stupid dish back to DWay and getting on a real broadband connection. All the rural folks? Start praying for a massive nation-wide fixed wireless solution... Satellite ain't gonna do it!
          • Yeesh, sounds like a pretty lousy dilemma. I'm surprised that DirecWay's customer service is so rotten. They're owned by DirecTv, right? Customer service has been considered a strength for DirecTv, but they must use a different outfit for the "broadband" access.
            • Well, basically DirecTV and DirecWay are both owned by Hughes, but all they really share in common is the name. If you use you DirecWay dish for receiving DTV programming as well as an I.S.P., you only talk to DirecWay for technical assistance; all programming questions are routed to DTV's customer service. I know that in the early days of DirecPC, you actually received two different bills.

              I wasn't aware that DTV had good customer service... I've talked to them once, it was a no-brainer and solved easily
    • Good points, but I would prefer a combination of SquirrelMail [] (or SSH [] / PuTTY [] & Mutt []) and a dynamic DNS [] domain over a "freemail provider". :)
  • This is news ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 17, 2003 @05:40AM (#6459576)
    Nothing new in the UK - we have pay-as-you-go zero subscription dial-up ISPs. Had them for ages, due to the funny way non-geographic calls are charged. The receiver gets a cut, that's how these ISPs make money.

    And frankly, the average browser user still only eats about 4kbit/s of bandwidth - you don't need broadband for many uses!
    • you don't need broadband for many uses!

      Shhhhhh! Have you forgotten where we are?
    • Re:This is news ? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tyagiUK ( 625047 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @07:22AM (#6459787) Homepage
      I've recently gone from ADSL (1.5Mb/s symmetric) back to 56k dial (on a pay-as-you-go account) due to a house move out in to the countryside. To be honest, apart from when there is more than one person using the link, it's perfectly adequate for Web (on relatively graphics-lite sites) and Shell access. The only downer is larger downloads which I can do at work and then just copy over at home on the Wireless/Wired LAN. I've also found that it stops me wasting nearly as much time on the 'Net doing "pointless browsing"!
    • Re:This is news ? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Nermal6693 ( 622898 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @07:41AM (#6459826)
      We had a similar system here in New Zealand, where calls were charged in some obscure way that the ISPs were making money from people dialling up. Telecom (the telco that owns all the lines) had some obscure deal with Clear (the competition, who use Telecom's lines) where if a Telecom customer called a Clear customer, Telecom would pay Clear something like 2c/min. We had about 5 completely free ISPs (which used Clear for their dialup lines) - you just dialled up and used the net! No ad banners, no platform restrictions, or anything. Telecom simply paid Clear for all the calls, who then passed the revenue onto the ISPs (Clear's a "good" company). Unfortunately, Telecom revised their interconnect agreement with Clear, and these free ISPs have disappeared.

      Anyway, a standard dial-up account costs around US$12/month here. I have a 128k DSL account that costs around $35/month (half to the ISP, and half to Telecom, who owns all the exchanges). I wish it was faster but Telecom has decided that if you want anything faster than 128k, then you pay by the MB :( This pricing structure hasn't been revised for 4 years, but they're introducing movies over DSL later this year and will hopefully update the prices then.

      I'm sure this was a really interesting rant :)

      • We had a similar system here in New Zealand, where calls were charged in some obscure way that the ISPs were making money from people dialling up. Telecom (the telco that owns all the lines) had some obscure deal with Clear (the competition, who use Telecom's lines) where if a Telecom customer called a Clear customer, Telecom would pay Clear something like 2c/min.

        There's nothing obscure about it. It's international practice. What isn't international practice is one party charging the other party near

    • Broadband isn't just about the bandwidth. It's about latency too.

      The traffic you generate from a game of Counterstrike online is only about 2 Kb/s, up and down.

      However, you need those few bytes sent *fast* -- 50 ms, as opposed to 250 ms.
  • Cheap? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Da Fokka ( 94074 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @05:41AM (#6459578) Homepage
    In Holland we've had free dial-up ISPs for several years. They earn their money because of contracts of KPN, the main dutch telephone provider.
    • Re:Cheap? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Uart ( 29577 )
      Sadly, in America we don't pay per-minute charges for local phone calls on the landline and hence, such deals cannot be made by our ISPs.
    • Re:Cheap? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WegianWarrior ( 649800 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @06:04AM (#6459639) Journal

      It is the same here in Norway. In fact, only idiots actually pays a montly fee, unless they a) have it thru their job (meaning the company picks up the bill) or b) has broadband and thus ain't using the telephonewire for access.

      For the benefit of our US friends who may wonder how the ISP can survive giving away free service with a usefull numbver of perks (e-mail adresses by the handfull, webspace and so on), lemme point out two things that explains why. Firstly, we pay by the minute to use the phone, no matter if we call grandma or to connect to the net. Secondly, the major ISP in Norway are also telcos...

    • Re:Cheap? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by knarf ( 34928 )
      Well, you might not have to pay a subscription fee to the 'free' ISP's in the Netherlands (and elsewhere in Europe), but you DO pay by the minute through the phone bill. In the US, local calls (like those to your ISP, with a bit of luck) are free, so the price in the US will end up lower for anyone using more than, say half an hour, of net-time a day.

      I live in Sweden, where everyone seems to have broadband. Everyone, except for those who live in areas forgotten by Scanova (the only company which is allowed
    • Re:Cheap? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How big is Holland? Couldn't you just open the door on the windmill and let your fellow citizens know about that deal?

      Is it a toll call to Holland from Nebraska USA?
      • Re:Cheap? (Score:3, Funny)

        by Da Fokka ( 94074 )
        Certainly, and we do so all the time. But in the rare instances we want to actually communicate with, say, Nebraska we might e-mail them.
  • by AvitarX ( 172628 ) <me AT brandywinehundred DOT org> on Thursday July 17, 2003 @05:41AM (#6459581) Journal
    Here is a plug for the sub ten dollor ISP I use

    It kicks ass. Good News Access, webspace with no transfer limits (if abused reasonable measures will be taken).

    Domain hosting.

    No automatic billing (web form, pay as you go).

    Nation wide Dial-up

    My favorite though is Server side SpamAssassin filtering. I have my e-mail unobfuscated on Transgaming, and have signed up with a few companies, still no spam.

    There is no Customer service (but great help pages and user supported forums). has a disclaimer saying that it is for the techsavy and will not accept current AOL users.

    I currently use them for the occasional times I need dial up, and to host my email with good spam filter, and still don't feel too gyped.

    • I used to get dialup, then dsl from flex until roadrunner came into my town. They were, and probably still are, the best dialup isp in Hawaii. The AOL rant [] was the main reason I signed up.

      It would be nice if there was a similar discount cable isp that didn't need to send out two guys just to turn on dhcp.
    • And I'd like to plug mine. ;)

      Everyone's Internet []

      All the email address I want with server-side spam filtering, and a webmail interface

      300 MB web space with no transfer limits

      Fairly good Usenet server

      They have a proprietary dialer, but you don't have to use it. I use Windows dial-up networking and KPPP and it works fine.

      Free tech support via phone, email, or IRC (yeah, IRC tech support!)

      Unlimited dial-up access from just about anywhere in the US.

      All for $10.83 a month, after the $29.50 sign u
      • Actually, EV1 doesn't have a proprietary dialer. The "setup CD" we send out to new customers runs a script that configures regular ole Windows dialup networking, Outlook Express, and Internet Explorer. It's basically for the non-technical folks out there.

        EV1 doesn't provide technical support for Linux, but it's plain PPP with PAP authentication and POP3 mail. IMAP works too. Just don't forget to put "noauth" in those PPP configs! ;)

        EV1, for the record, smashed the price point for dialup service, in Te
  • by tarquin_fim_bim ( 649994 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @05:44AM (#6459590)
    the market for low-priced dial-up access is actually up in this weak economy

    ..but wouldn't this be for the same reasons that supermarkets have a higher turnover during an economic downturn? Or would you expect people to be more extravagant with their limited resources?
    • by Metaldsa ( 162825 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @08:04AM (#6459915)
      Yep, and this is all normal because its a business cycle. People don't want the truth that recessions and booms all come and go. Our last boom was the biggest non-war boom EVER. People today think that the economy should never stop going up and when it falls back slightly (because is valued more than small countries) then they want a fall guy (Alan Greenspan and Bush look like the guy for it right now).
  • Free UK ISPs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by madaxe42 ( 690151 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @05:47AM (#6459599) Homepage
    We've had free ISPs in the UK for years now, such as Freeserve etc., which are profitable because they receive a proportion of the call charge (local rate call, nation-wide), rather than it all going to the telco. Also, there are a few which had 0800 numbers (free numbers), and rely on advertising banners. While living in the states, I was somewhat bemused by the complete abscense of free ISPs, and still can't understand why they can't operate on the british model, surely it isn't *that* difficult to set up a deal with AT&T, or whoever they're connected to. Ah well, just my .02$.
    • Re:Free UK ISPs (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Doctor7 ( 669966 )
      The reason is that there is no charge for local calls in the US, so there's nothing for them to get a cut of. Everyone's expecting the same to happen in the UK eventually, but the difference is that we have got used to the 'lo-call' rate having different rules from normal local calls, whereas the US already had free local calls before dial-up became common, so people wouldn't have put up with charges based on call time.
      • Why would you expect the same to happen in the UK or elsewhere? I consider it fair to pay for what I use. Use more -> pay more. Actually I think at least wireless (as in mobile phones) is going to cost per bit instead of the older per minute cost. This is in Finland, where I live. And yes, we had "free" phone calls outside office hours before the internet. Well, 10 cents per call, time not limited. Guess what happened?

        People would call their ISPs every friday at 17:00, and then keep the connection ope

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 17, 2003 @05:48AM (#6459600)
    Its the incubent telcos who are milking profits form old technology.! Look at countrys like Japan, South korea, Sweeden. 10, 20 even 100Mbit connections for less than DSL in the usa. Look at Australia, Greece and Ireland as examples of incubents at their worst.
    • its also the infrastructure, look at the size of japan & south korea compared to the US - you think it cost them anything even close to what it would cost in the US to lay/maintain the fiber for that?
  • In Australia (Score:5, Informative)

    by Talez ( 468021 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @05:54AM (#6459615)
    There has been a boon of cut-price, unlimited dial-up and DSL accounts through a wholesaler called Comindico.

    You basically set up an account with them, order so many lines at each pop and they place lines at each pop on a nationwide number or local number.

    The VISPs can then value-add to that service (news, webspace, email) or sell it as ultra cheap internet access (as low as US$8.95/month in some areas).

    While the quality varies from ISP to ISP, they are usually fairly reliable so long as your ISP has ordered enough lines.
  • by dollar70 ( 598384 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @05:57AM (#6459625) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry, but dial-up was just too painful. Thanks to broadband, I don't worry about having a bunch of $extra features$ on my phone service to make sure I don't miss a phone call, I don't have to wonder if line noise is the culprit when webpages don't load quickly, I can download iso's, mp3's, and other files greater than 5 megs without annoying disconnects, and I get the added joy of not needing to pay extra to have some webserver space because now I can run my own!

    No, dial-up was fine when it was the only kid on the block, but as long as non-proprietary, always on, broadband is available in my neck of the woods, they can drop the price of dial-up to $1 a month, and I'd still have to pass...

    Well, maybe if I ever needed a traveling backup...

  • This is a ridiculously stupid statement, unless if he meant 20%.

    Or maybe he meant up until now, 20 low-cost ISPs closed down within a year.

    But otherwise, this statement makes no sense.

    It's not like after 20 ISPs close down within a year, there will be no 21st ISP that closes down within a year of startup.

    • The problem is that the line was plagiarized from the article, but out of context it makes no sense. The actual portion from the article reads:

      "Another risk with budget ISPs is their reliability. Brandon Mullenberg, DialUpUSA president, says that about 20 of the startup ISPs that sign on with him annually shutter within a year."

      Since I see no mention of how many ISP's sign up with him in a given year, it is a pretty useless fact. And even if they did tell us what percentage of these businesses were fail
  • We switched to a service where the actuall connection to the Internet is handled by a telephone company for a rather small sum, and we are very, very happy, not to mention a whole lot richer (well...). Our normal Internet provider just handles the mail, and does so well, too. The only problem is that I have had to drop my beloved uucp and switch to POP3 or IMAP like the rest of the slobs...this is Germany, by the way, your country may vary.
  • roaming access? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @06:09AM (#6459650) Journal
    it's cool and nice to have sub-10 dollar ISPs, but unless I can use them *everywhere*, they are pretty useless to me.

    case in point - ATT worldnet, despite being a fairly expensive option, allows me to dialup in most cities around the world. Which means that when I can get to a payphone in Japan with a data-port, I get internet. This is not so much a big deal now that I live here and have interent on my cellphone, but man does it save your life on business trips.

    But - then we get back to it - when back in the US, the service comes in mighty handy.

    so, i am all for cheaper service (I think ATT worldnet is more expensive than the 12Mbit fat-pipe advertised on /. a few hours before), but if it's not portable, what's the point of dialup?
  • by NoNeeeed ( 157503 ) <> on Thursday July 17, 2003 @06:13AM (#6459656)
    None of the things touted in the article as problems with these services are an issue for most people.

    No e-mail account - Well most people I know don't use the account of their provider, most have webmail accounts instead, because they can access them at university/work, and they can keep them if they move ISP.

    No newsgroups - Well, usenet has become very unimportant to most people I know, and those that do use it (such as myself) will probably use Google-Groups instead.

    No web space - Seriously, how many people are bothered about that? Yes, a lot of people might cobble together a quick web page, but it is still too complex for most. Besides with all the services providing free web space (even if it does have adverts) who needs space from their access provider.

    Many people end up with all these things, which they are paying for but never use, because quite often the free services are better (and you don't lose them when you move ISP).

    The only real negative points about these services is the dial up modem speed, but then for many, many people, that is plenty fast enough.

    Looks to me like these services have worked out what it is that people really want, a connection to the internet at a price they can afford. There are enough free services on the web to make up for what is missing, so why pay for it.

    Yes I know that having fast always on is nice (I'm on a 1meg cable connection) but for many who don't need to use the internet in the same way as I do, dial up is fine.

    • by Wansu ( 846 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @07:35AM (#6459808)

      No newsgroups - Well, usenet has become very unimportant to most people I know, and those that do use it (such as myself) will probably use Google-Groups instead.

      Most people don't know what newsgroups are anyway. They think the web is the internet.
    • No e-mail account - Well most people I know don't use the account of their provider, most have webmail accounts instead, because they can access them at university/work, and they can keep them if they move ISP.

      I personally think it's quite dumb to use ISP email accounts. It's a lock-in thing that prevents you from moving ISPs. At work (which is not anything to do with computers), they used to use dial-up, and used the ISP email account. About two years ago we got DSL, and a domain, and we're still paying

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Dialup connections here in Finland have been free for years now, just use some public machine, in library etc. to order the service from ISP. Only sad thing we never got the free local calls system so we have to pay minute rate from the use which is something like $1/hour if I recall correctly.
  • Hard to be an ISP... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @06:31AM (#6459705) Homepage
    Espically dial-up. I ran one back in the mid 90's and the 56K technology drove me to sell my customer base to a rival. non 56K dial-up is very easy to get running and maintain. if you can get users happy with 28.8 as a MAX then you can do it... espically cince T-1 connectivity is now cheaper at $690.00 per month for a 3 year lease PLUS your Backbone ISP fees... you're looking at around $900.00 a month for a cheap connection to support about 50 dial in modems. make that around 10 users per modem and you just might make it for that dial-in node.

    if you HAVE to have 56K dial in lines then your modem costs just skyrocketed massively from $250.00 per modem to almost $700.00 per modem as well as your dial-in line costs. Making your operating costs basically double for that node.

    I don't envy anyone in the dial-up biz anymore. customers calling to bitch about connection speed that dont understand why their wiring in their house or neighborhood is crap and causing part of it. and if you inch past the 10 users per modem you start getting complaints about busy signals.

    undercutting to $4.95 sounds like a dot.bomb sales model. as that is making the margins too close for comfort.
  • Survivability? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gossy ( 130782 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @06:34AM (#6459710)
    Is the survival prospects of the company that important in this case?

    Alright, it's a bit of a hassle if they shut down to go find a new one - but if you aren't using them for hosting your email or webspace, it's not such a disaster if the company only lasts a year before folding!

    Like some other posters have already mentioned, we've had free ISPs in the UK for years. Since we pay for local calls, the ISP cut a deal that gives them a percentage of the amount we pay for calls.

    Along came the deals where you could pay so much to BT a month to not pay for internet calls, and then you usually had to pay the ISP monthly too. They have made it simpler now (although you can still do it the old way), so you just pay the ISP for flat rate access.

    The trouble is though, too often I've found the old "You get what you pay for" is very much true with ISPs. We used to pay £40 a month (£20 to Demon, £20 to BT) for our flat rate ISDN access [it'd be the same amount if we were on 56k, incidently], and the service, reliablilty and speed were fantastic. I've had a lot of people come complaining to me that BT (the ISP), Freeserve or whoever were appauling, but refuse to pay a bit more for a better service. Of course, lots of people can't afford it (we were lucky - ours was company paid for), but when looking at the cheap deals people need to realise they may have more problems connecting due to it being oversubscribed, the service may be slow, and support poor.

    Then again, cheap bad internet is better than no internet, so it might bring connections to more homes.
    • Like some other posters have already mentioned, we've had free ISPs in the UK for years. Since we pay for local calls, the ISP cut a deal that gives them a percentage of the amount we pay for calls.

      Can even the most ardent US-basher parse that statement? ;)

      Yes, we're so far behind Europe, where free things are paid for by the minute :)

  • It's free in Sweden (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cee ( 22717 )
    All major ISPs offer free dialup accounts in Sweden. The only catch is that you still have to pay about 2.5 cents per minute to our Telco monopoly... Well, most can get ADSL or LAN access for about $30-40/month, so it doesn't really matter anymore =) As a student, I pay about $23/month for a 10 Mbit connection.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... if it weren't for this slow dialup connection!
  • by newtronic ( 603458 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @07:20AM (#6459783)
    Although I have a cable modem at home, I use when I travel. I don't use the pop mail they give you, instead various webmail clients work for me. Hotmail, my cable ISP, and a few others. 24/7 tech support, which I've never needed. No software to install.

    It's only 5.95 a month. I don't have any interest in them, other than being a happy customer. It's nationwide, but I did find one place they didn't support with local dial up: the outer banks of NC. []

  • My father-in-law is moving to Long Island, NY, and is interested in a new ISP. He's already paying for Prodigy but if there was a cheal broadband service in the area he'd consider it. Any suggestions?
    • OptimumOnline from Cablevision has been excellent, but it runs $40-$50 a month, a little less if you also get a cable tv package. It is far and away the dominant broadband provider in the area.

      There are a number of ADSL services, which all eventually go through Verizon. They are a little cheaper, but OptimumOnline has had much better reliability. Many people, including myself, have had enough problems with Verizon to never go there again.

      There are a few WISPs, but they mostly provide business level s

      • OOL is 10Mb/1Mb, yes it's pricey, but it's completely reliable (the only service problems i've ever had are specifically with my account) and lightining-fast; i've seen 9+Mb downloads in the real world. Haven't tried Verizon, but AFAIK it's 768/128 for like $15 less than cablevison, and i've heard spotty things about their reliability (and coverage on Eastern LI where it's more rural).
  • by Wansu ( 846 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @07:37AM (#6459812)

    We have Time Warner Cable. Their service is so poor, we need a backup. As soon as DSL becomes available, we're moving to that. Until then, we need a cheap backup.
    • You're kidding. We have TW here too, and it's the best in town. My connection goes down maybe once a year, if that often. The DSL here is the crappy one.
      • We got TWC because we were too far from the CO for DSL. However, that was 3 years ago. Apparently, some things have changed. DSL has been available for a year.

        We experienced 2 big outages in August of 2000 but for the next 2 years had no problems. In summer of 2002, we had signal problems and after a couple weeks, they finally replaced our cable to the curb with RJ6. Since then, we've experienced other more wipespread area outages. This summer we're seeing signal problems again except out at the street. An
        • noise in the high numbered channels is a sign of why you've got signal problems with the cable modem. They've got a bad filter in their network which is causing the problem. They need to track it down (it's not hard) and replace it; otherwise, it's only going to get worse.
        • what i used to do when I had problems is call often and complain - but in reality, I've had very little trouble with my TWC modem. Only one outage in the past year, and was a filter on my line that got fried. Called and had it fixed within a day - guess it all depends on the affiliate you have for how good their service is. I know dsl in my area is horrid, I dont know anyone who switched to it who kept it more than 6 months before switching back
      • TW is erratic city-to-city. For example, here in El Paso I think it's been down once. But I hear horror stories coming out of Austin.
    • Why in the world would you continue paying for something that sucks?
  • Cost cutting (Score:5, Informative)

    by NeoSkandranon ( 515696 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @07:44AM (#6459846)
    There are several of these uber-cheap ISPs operating in my area. In fact, I have a neighbor who went with one particular one, which I was convinced was a bad idea. As it turns out, the service is reliable, decently quick (56k) and something like 12USD a month. Turns out though, one of the ways they cut costs is--no tech support. Whatsoever. If you need help, you have to call the fellow (it works like a reseller program, one guy resells for a national ISP) who set you up and hope he is clueful

    As for cutting off the other things--webspace? It doesnt cost you anything until someone actually puts a website up. Of the thousands of customers we had when i worked at an ISP, only a bare handful of individuals, plus most of the business customers ever bothered to learn how to FTP (or "publish" if you're a frontpage person)
  • Every time a friend tells me they are going to install ADSL or a cable modem, I tell them: "do not come asking for help", and a week later, they are there asking me why it won't work.
    Despite twenty years hooking PCs to networks, it's still amazing how complex the process is. And that's before you get the viruses, trojans, pop-up porn spam windows, adwares, anti-adwares, etc.
    These low-cost ISPs generally make the Internet experience simple and painless, and don't try to sell gadgets, just a basic way to get
  • (Score:4, Informative)

    by dheltzel ( 558802 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @08:26AM (#6459973)
    This is hard to beat for low usage folks:
    - No ads
    - works fine on Linux
    - first 10 hours a month are free
    - next 10 hours are $1/hour
    - free again after that (max $10/month)
    - no use, no charge

    I setup my inlaws with a NIC (Larry Ellison's stepchild) and access4free for low-cost,low-maintenance access to email and IM.
  • I'll generally sign up for AOL for a little while around the time I travel in December. I did this last year and when I called to cancel, they offered me something like 150 hours per month for $4.95. I turned them down because I really only needed the service for two weeks in December. I'm surprised the article doesn't mention this.

    The bad news is that I couldn't find any information on this option on the AOL site.

  • $5.95 a month. I've used them for years. Good service. No real problems. Have less trouble with them than I've had with the more expensive services.

    One thing I would not do is pay for one of these services for a year in advance.
  • If you aren't getting an email account or web space, and there is someone to replace your failed ISP, do you really care if your first provider tanks? Just open a new account with the next provider. All you are paying for is access.
  • by Trolling4Dollars ( 627073 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @09:58AM (#6460400) Journal
    ...until the money grab happened. I was signed up with a local small ISP that provided excellent service for $9.95 a month. It came with POP3/SMTP/NNTP unlimited access and a static IP for running a server. I loved it. But after about two years, as their customer base grew, the service was harder to dial into. Then they expanded their modem pool (or PRI, not sure which) and the service was easy to dial into again. However, not long after that the customer service/support began to suck. They added a phone menu that made it harder to reach support and invariably got you to a clueless dork who couldn't trouble shoot a burnt lightbulb. Finally, after about 2.5 years, they merged with another ISP from a neighboring city that was growing. That ISP was soon bought out by a larger ISP in another state and BAM! the rates went from $9.95 a month to $21.95 a month. With no announcement. I just noticed that my debit card was getting more taken out of it per month after the big company took over. This big predatory company took over several of the smaller ISPs in my area that had been offering internet access at decent prices and jacked all of them up. Eventually, you either had to accept the $21.95 a month or do the ISP jig as new low cost ISPs came and went (every few months). I could afford the $21.95 a month but I did so grudgingly. Internet service shouldn't be expensive at all, especially now. The minute I could get DSL and actually get something worth what I paid for, I did. I am now a happy Speakeasy customer. :) Although I fear that they may fall victim to what my original inexpensive ISP back in 1995 did. They provide the least expensive DSL so far that is Linux friendly and allows you to run servers.

    Just so folks know, the big bad ISP that took over my original ISP was CoreComm. In general, they REALLY blow. The last straw for me was when they took away my static IP without telling me. They also took the e-mail address I had since 1995 and "gave" it to someone else in their home city. Then they claimed that this person had the address all along which was complete bullshit. So... to anyone who works for CoreComm, I can't tell you how much your company sucks.
  • I dumped MSN for a small Utah ISP called Networld [] back in 1999, after meeting their CEO at a trade show.

    I can't say I have no complaints. I get a lot of busy signals in the evenings, and over the last few years there have been two times when the whole service went down for a couple of days. But they do provide you with e-mail accounts and web space. No stupid ads, and you don't have to use the software they provide if you don't want to.

    Last I checked, they had a rule about not having your connectio
  • I have cable broadband in the Washington DC area (Comcast - $50/month), but I still keep my $13/month account with []. Why?

    Comcast isn't 100% reliable - they go down for a day or so about quarterly. ZZAPP is my backup for email connectivity (and it's useful for checking Comcast's status when it goes down). ZZAPP goes down about once a year, typically when their upstream ISP has a hardware failure.

    ZZAPP is on the consumer side of all the major Internet issues, and they are not bashful about sayi

  • I had a cheap ISP nightmare. It was a $5 a month unlimited service. After paying for my first month in advance (and a $10 setup fee), they shut off my account after 15 days, stating that I was a "spammer", when I had only sent 3 emails from the account. Since they offered no dialup support, I was forced to call sales who told me to F$^%# off. After a report to the BBB I was finally able to get my money back, but only part of it. The company was Beware, some of these ISP have usage polici
  • Here in Greece it's also hard to be a dialup service provider. These companies depend on other services in order to survive such as leased lines, VISPs, web hosting and even co-location.

    Most of them even do their own web authoring since it doesn't come cheap to create a relatively modest web site. So the question is how can a dialup provider survive without these "added" services.

    Even if you are not a "cheap" one and charge a great ammount of money you have to pay for modems (not to mention that an ISP th
  • I get sick of people seeing bandwidth as the only difference between dialup and broadband. "I only pay $9.95/month for my 56k. Do you *really* need 256KB/s downstream?"

    Hidden costs (and inconveniences):
    - Dialling up (telco) costs. This really adds up.
    - Line rental (if you are running a separate phone line for dialup) or the alternative of sharing the phone line with the telephone (and we all know how painful that can be for everyone involved).
    - *Unreliability* - dialup performance varies so wildly, with co
  • I might as well plug my el cheapo ISP, everybody else has. I'm on Internet Express (, a San Diego outfit, just down the road sort of. I got in on one of their monthly specials at $9 something a month; it would've been even cheaper prepaid but who has that kind on money in California anymore?

    They officially don't support Linux, but they run it on all of their servers and the tech support guy knew I was running Linux and he help me anyway. Support's a bit slow, expect a 24 hour turnaround. Not
  • dialup is all I'm going to need.
  • by Tony Shepps ( 333 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @01:29PM (#6462914) Homepage
    This is the result of customer confusion about how ISPs operate and what to expect from them. The same thing is going on in the hosting realm; people shop by price because they really don't understand the criteria by which they *should* be shopping.

    And that's not always good. Imagine if you applied that same approach to, say hamburgers. Anyone could buy the crappiest rolls, the worst meat, add 50% filler with no condiments or cheese... you'd have a higher chance to get food poisoning, but hey! the burgers are only $0.25 each!
  • People still use AOL.

    That just proves it. AOL uses mind control!

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.