ISPs: Why so pricey?

I don’t know which ISP to use. Have been using AOL but the price is so high. Why is that?

I want one that is easy and AOL is, are others just as easy?

I have 4 people in my home that use the PC so it is nice to have a screen name for each one. We are used to AOL and our favorites lists and all our friends having our email addresses. I guess we would loose that if we switch to lower price ISP. And I like the IM.

Any suggestions?

I suspect this one will be off to IMHO soon

**Mainly, because people will pay it.

**Easier,in my opinion. You get a dial-up ISP, and you can have something to double-click on to get online just like AOL. Set your homepage to something like Yahoo and you basically have anything AOL offers. I doubt there is anything AOL offers that can’t be found on a web portal somewhere.

**I don’t know if you can continue to use your AOL email after you terminate their service. But IM is available with any ISP, you can download a stand-alone client from If you want seperate email addresses for you family, most ISPs can handle this, or you can use any one of the hundreds of free web-based email services.

Try as a buyers guide for ISPs. I am sure you can find something in there close to where you live and in your price range.

AOL may be ‘easy’ for you to use but its software is big, bloated and buggy.

More importantly AOL still acts less like an ISP than as an ‘Online Service’ like back in the old days of Compuserve & Prodigy, before the internet took off. I guess some people like this, but everything you find on AOL you’ll find on the internet, bigger & better.

And IM works without subscribing to AOL.

Check with your local telephone company.

I’ve got a 1.5MB DSL connection for $25/month CDN through mine… although that IS a smoking deal.

Yes check out a broadband option, it may be cheaper then a dialup ISP and a dedicated phone line for internet use only.

Besides that, MSN is somewhat simular to AOL from what I’ve heard, but cost about the same.

If you use AOL not all that much you may be able to switch from an unlimited plan to about $5 or $10/month which gives you some time included then pay per minute after. MSN might also have a competive plan.

Once you get out of AOL and MSN you are talking about a strict internet and email provider. Setup is more complex for email but once it’s done it’s pretty easy to use.
got to go

The OP also mentioned “Favorites”. Favorites is not an AOL-specific thing. Every browser on the market (all of them free) has a favorites option. You just take the page you’re on and drag the address into the favorites folder and there it stays. Forever. Even when you switch ISPs. You can put them on a disk and take them to another computer even.

You don’t need AOL to use the Internet. You need a computer and an ISP - and all an ISP is (or should be) is a company you pay a montly fee to in order to access the Internet wether it be by dialing into their network (dial-up) or being always conencted to their network (broadband).

Try this:

Connect to AOL and then minimize it so it’s nothing but a button on your taskbar. Open up Internet Explorer or Netscape (IE will be already installed on your computer, I assume) and use that to surf the web. To search the web, go to or (both “search engines”). Try saving some Web pages in your Favorites folder in IE. Go to and download and install Instant Messanger. You can log in with your AOL screen name (be careful though, I’m not sure how it reacts to being used while on AOL. It might log you off AOL.) Go to and sign up for an email account to see how that works.

There, now you’ve searched, surfed, saved, chatted and gotten email and the AOL software did nothing for you but get you online. You can get the same functionality for $10 a month from Juno or NetZero, or a myriad of other hosts.

Good luck, and keep at it. Don’t be scared to leave AOL - they don’t love you they just love your money!:smiley:

I have to agree with the information that you have been given from the others. Don’t be afraid to switch from AOL. You really will not miss it at all. You can find an ISP for 10-15 dollars a month but the best advice if you are using a 2nd line for Internet is to look to broadband. You will not be sorry even if you do not save any money but you will never want to go back to dialup. It is just that much better.

Most of the cheap ISPs now days will send you a CD that sets up everything for you - maybe you’ll just tell it your own phone number so it finds a local access number and it does the rest. All the basic internet software you need is installed with your computer, anything else you want you can download for free. I always laugh at the AOL commercials because they never list a single feature that you cannot do without them, and just as easily. One commercial they run talks about keyword “webmd”. Try typing into your web browser…

A few more advantages to AOL:

  1. AOL offers 7 “screen-names” under one billing account (great for family members), although only one screen-name can be on-line at a time. A good choice for family members. E-mail, favorites, mailboxes, etc, can be isolated for each screen-name.

  2. If you want to make your own web-page, AOL gives you 2 meg of storage per screen name, which of course, can be linked together to give you a decent sized web page host.

  3. When traveling, AOL makes it easy to set up local access numbers, giving you cheap and easy phone access from your hotel or friend’s house. Local phone numbers are plentiful on AOL.

I don’t think those are advantages, since most ISPs do better than that. Mine offers 7 email accounts, each with 10 megs of space, for a total of 70 megs.

The multiple local number are good, but all the big ISPs offer those.

One important thing to add -

Since you learned on AOL and are used to it now, NOTHING will be as easy as AOL.

A “regular” ISP just connects you straight to the internet. You don’t have a screen name. Content isn’t filtered and placed strategically for you. You’ll have to find it on your own. People who go from “regular” internet to AOL find all the stuff that AOL puts in their way very annoying. Since you are used to all that stuff being your internet, you’ll miss it. For example, there are no keywords. Keywords are an AOL thing. As cooper pointed out, the same info is there on the internet (for the most part), but finding it will be different.

You might want to sign up with a free account from Yahoo or MSN or some similar place. You can customize your start page with them, and it will be fairly similar to what you have with AOL (I think… I’ve never actually used AOL). It might make the transition easier. You’ll have to set up Yahoo Messenger or MSN messenger yourself (unlike AOL which installs its own messenger automatically with its own software), but once you get past the pain of that you’ll have something similar to what you started with. MSN and Yahoo (and I’m sure other services as well) have different types of accounts. The free ones will probably do what you need, but sometimes its not all that obvious on exactly how to sign up for the free account since they bury all the info in the middle of their paid services.

By the way, most ISPs these days offer multiple e-mail accounts (and you can always sign up for yahoo and hotmail accounts and the like). Most ISPs give you more than 2 megs of web space, typically more like 5 or 10 in my area. However, most ISPs are not nationwide (especially the cheaper ones) so you may not be able to get a local access number if you travel.


I can testify from excruciating personal experience that one of the worst things you can do for your computer is to insert the CD or floppy that some ISP gives you and just let it install. (In particular, Earthlink’s software is pure shit.) DO NOT DO THIS!!!

Get yourself signed up with a nice, simple ISP, maybe some mom & pop or maybe the local branch of one of the big ones. Then, if you’re running anything from Win98SE on, just let the “Connect to the Internet” wizard do its thing. If you use a dial-up connection, you’ll need the local access number. You’ll also need the names for your mail server, etc. All of this should be readily and easily available from the ISP – IN PRINTED FORM!!! Just enter the info – you only have to do this once – and you’re on your way to the real internet – the one AOL has tried to hide from you for years.

Once all this is done, the internet is only as far from you as the big blue E on your desktop.

I second this, I have fixed many computers that were screwed up by the ISP provided CD. But then again if you are worried about using the internet and ISP provided email you may have to use that cd.

While I agree the software sucks, you still can set up Earthlink without using their software.

This link does require some very basic dial-up and TCP/IP knowledge, but one can always call up and ask tech support how to set it up without the software they provide and stick with the web browswer of your choice and the email program of your choice.

You do get 10 MB of web space, 8 email addresses, nationwide access (not as good as AOL but certainly doable for most) and from my past experience, very good tech support.

Thanks to all for your thoughts.

I feel silly but I must ask, what is broadband?
Is that what you get with cable TV? I don’t have cable, I have a dish on the roof.

Broadband refers to high-speed internet access. For home use, this generally means cable or DSL. You will notice exponentially faster speeds on this service. Although the monthly fee is higher, it is offset by not requiring the purchase of a second phone line. If these services are available in your area (check large ISP’s like Earthlink, Optimum Online, or RoadRunner), it would be an utter mistake to choose 56k dialup.

You are also doing yourself and your family a huge disservice by remaining on AOL. It is the leper colony of the internet.

I should have been a little clearer… Yes, as techchick68 points out, Earthlink is an excellent ISP. I have been an Earthlink subscriber for years; I’m posting now using Earthlink. BUT, they distribute some of the worst software ever written, ranking right down there with AOL’s kludgiest crap.

An ISP’s forte is connecting you to the internet. ISPs are not software companies.

My point was, or should have been, that practically any MS OS already contains all the tools you need to get online, and usually pretty quickly. In my experience, Earthlink is actually one of the easiest to set up, requiring very little input – usually the basic wizard stuff.

But I stand by my warning to one and all – DO NOT use the software your ISP provides, unless there is simply no other way to get a connection up and running.

Also, on a similar subject, Earthlink recently suspended its “no-strings” distribution of its popular Pop-up Blocker software. This was one of the few bits of code ever put out by Earthlink that actually worked. They still offer it, but only as part of a package they call TotalAccess 2003. DO NOT DOWNLOAD THIS TRASH. Pop-up Blocker is nice but having it is NOT worth the havoc that TA 2003 will wreak on your system.