Go Around The Tech Corner…

Tech Tip 47: How to Choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Posted on: November 2, 2009


An ISP is a company that provides a gateway to the Internet for individuals and companies. Choosing an ISP requires you to answer this question: ‘what do I want to use the Internet for?’ If you can answer this, you can then start to work out your requirements. Other things you’ll have to consider are as follows:

– ‘how much Internet will I use each month?’

– ‘what time of day will I use it?’

– ‘how much web space can I have?’

– ‘can someone host my web site for me?’

– ‘is customer support important to me?’

– ‘how many e-mail addresses will I need?’

– ‘can the ISP support online payments?’

– ‘how much will it cost?’


Once you have considered all these questions you then need to know the different types of services available. These include:


If you access the Internet for only a few hours each day and don’t want to have a web site, then this will be the solution to choose. The costs include call charges via your dial-up line, normally charged at local rates. These accounts can be set up very quickly and require little, if any, registration information.

Leased lines

These are point-to-point connections varying in speed from 64 k (fairly slow) to 2 Mb (very quick). They provide a direct, ‘always-on’ connection straight to an ISP, giving Internet access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, usually via a device called a managed router (this provides a connection onto the Internet via the leased line). There is also the cost of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to consider. The SLA provides agreed timescales for service and repair of the connection.


There are two main options for broadband: Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), which includes the common Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) and cable, commonly available for home use as well as business.

ADSL utilizes existing standard copper telephone lines, changing them into a high-speed digital link capable of carrying broadband services. This means most new subscribers don’t have to install new connections, and many don’t have to change main telephone numbers. The user installs a device called an ADSL modem that connects via a filter to the standard telephone socket. Users need to be within a certain minimum distance of a telephone exchange for ADSL to be available.

Cable broadband normally uses fibre-optic cables, commonly installed in metropolitan areas for cable TV connection. Many such connections can run up to 40 times faster than standard narrowband, but require local cable access. Connection is via a device known as a cable ‘modem’, although in reality it is not a true modem; it is similar to a cable TV set top box. If there are multiple broadband users on your local cable loop, the communication speeds can be dramatically reduced.

I hope this post has been helpful for those who want to know about the main services ISPs provide. Do leave comments to enlighten us on what you know or about your experiences with ISPs..

– Millie

2 Responses to "Tech Tip 47: How to Choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP)"

Dial-up transmits data across the telephone line using the standard analog frequency, making it impossible to use your telephone while online.

Yeah that’s right – and dial up connections are way slower than the other kinds…

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