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Selecting an Internet Service Provider

In addition to choosing a means of connecting to the Internet, it also will be necessary to choose an Internet service provider (some ISPs bundle connectivity with services). Factors to consider include:

Distance to point-of-presence (POP):
The ISP should provide local connectivity so that long distance calling charges are not incurred. However, in many rural and developing regions, local access is not available. In such cases, it will be important to consider the price charged by telecommunications operators to reach the POP, and whether there are any toll-free or flat-rate options.

Speed and reliability of access to the Internet:
The speed of access to the Internet depends not only on the bandwidth available to reach the ISP, but also the number of ports at the ISP and the bandwidth it has available to reach an Internet gateway. In addition to asking the ISP for such information, it is useful to check with other customers to determine whether they experience delays, and if they have noticed any improvement or degradation in access over time.

Batched and compressed e-mail accounts:
Users can save money in telecommunications charges if they can compose messages offline and send and receive e-mail in batches to the Internet service provider (ISP). A batched e-mail service using the compressed UUCP (UNIX to UNIX copy) transfer protocol is four to eight times faster than the standard TCPIP/POP3 (post office protocol) used by most e-mail clients.

Web hosting:
The ISP should provide Web-hosting capability if another Web-hosting site is not already available in the country. Alternatively, schools can use one of the free Web hosting services made available by some U.S., European, or Australian sites.