Tuesday, July 15, 2008

ISP's: Caveat Emptor!

Over last weekend I went shopping for a new ISP. My years subscription to my current ISP was expiring, and I wanted to try to find a better deal, and maybe a better connection.

In the past, I have always used a local service as my ISP. My first connection was actually a dialup to a local BBS run out of Computer Enterprises (long before I worked there) called Blue Sky BBS. Later, a friend of mine started his own business as an ISP and so I signed up with him. Then I used another local ISP (after my friend cashed out) that I had had good dealings with, then later still I went with my local electric co-op so I could get the bills combined. Then, the Co-op sold the dial-up part to a rural phone company so they could join WildBlue Satellite.

During the time I used these ISP's my dial-up speeds were usually around 28.8. I have always attributed the slow speeds to poor line conditions, I know that there are at least 20 splices in the phone cable in the 1.5 miles upstream from my house, and the line hasn't been replaced in over 20 years.

I decided to change to the ISP that I'm using for phone and guest Internet access at work. They are working on providing fiber in my part of the county, although it will probably be a couple of more years before it gets to me. So, I bought a years subscription.

With Paul Bunyan Internet we occasionally could not get a connection. Sometimes we only managed a 16.4kbps connection. Often, we got 19.2 or 21.8. I can't recall getting anything faster. I wondered if it was our phone line, and I rewired the phone lines in the entire house.

Well, I finally decided that I would look for cheaper Internet service. No sense in paying high speed prices for something that I can barely download email headers with. Here's where I went.

MSN: Qwest, my phone company, offers MSN, first month free, $18.95/mo thereafter. I signed up for it. Then discovered that you have to install special software, it uses something called the Connection Manager instead of Dial-up Networking, and you CANNOT connect with dial-up Networking. One major problem with it is that the Connection Manager is a per user setting, and the PC has multiple users. It also used my hotmail account and password for the user name which I didn't like. A PIA to turn off, it only takes a couple of clicks and a credit card number to begin service, to end service you have to call a well hidden number (1-800-386-5550) and wade thru a huge multi language menu to get to someone who needed to know my phone number, credit card number, email address, and why I didn't want the service.

NetZero: Stay away from this. NASTY STUFF!!! It installs a dialer that pops up context sensitive ads. You can't use Dial-up Networking. I signed up on a plan that was $1 for the first month, $9.99/mo thereafter. When I installed the dialer it kept changing my browser settings. I have firefox as my default browser and Google as my home page, it set IE and NetZero as my defaults, and when I changed them back it would instantly reset them. If it ain't malware I don't know what it is. At least it did seem to uninstall cleanly. After I installed the dialer and connected once and discovered all the problems I called in to cancel the service. NetZero charged me BOTH the $1 AND the $9.99, said I owed them for the software and installation. And, because I made the mistake of putting it on my debit card I couldn't dispute or block the charge. Bad Bad Bad.

BasicISP: $6.95/mo basic internet dial-up service. They have two local dialup numbers in the GR area. No special software needed (although they have a config wizard you can download if you wish). One email account. American support is free for the first 30 days, billable thereafter. No frills, no bells and whistles. And the really good part? So far, over three days, one connection has been at 21.8, but all the rest have been at 26.4. Man, it feels almost like flying! www.basicisp.net.

1 comment:

  1. Update a bit over 1 month later.

    Both MSN and NetZero send me emails every day trying to get me to sign back up, even after telling the operator on the phone why I didn't want the service AND after responding to an email from a management type telling them the same things (wonder if MSN and NetZero are related?).

    BasicISP has been wonderful. No dropped calls, maybe once a week we get a connection slower than 26.4 but if you redial you get 26.4. I highly recommend them for budget ISP service.