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Different Types of ISPs

When you’re considering a new dial-up ISP, you can choose from four different types of providers—local ISPs, national ISPs, free ISPs, and commercial online services (such as America Online). Each type of ISP has its own specific strengths and weaknesses, as detailed in Table 1.2; the four ISP types are discussed in more detail in the following sections.

Table 1.2. Comparing Different Types of ISPs
Feature Local ISP National ISP Free ISP Commercial Online Service
Typical installation Manual or Software-based Software-based Software-based software-based
Performance Fast Medium-Fast Medium-Fast Medium-Fast
Reliability Variable Good Good Good
Local access numbers Yes Yes Probably Yes
National access No Yes Yes Yes
Broadband access Sometimes Sometimes No Sometimes
Support Variable Good Poor Best
Extra services Often Often No Seldom
Typical length of commitment Month-by-month One-year Month-by-month One-year
Price range $20–$25 $20–$25 Free $20–$25



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