Recommend me a better ISP than dial-up AOL!

Hello all,

My family is very slow to adapt to new trends. My brother is moving home next week to start a degree program at a local university, so for the first time since 1996, all four of us will be living in the same house. While this will cause many problems, one of the obvious ones will be Internet access. As it is now, we all have America On-Line dial-up service. My mom and I each have a computer here, so we obviously can’t be online at the same time. My dad was actually paying for a SECOND AOL account for my brother up at his apartment, so he could be online as much as he needed to, without messing us up here.

Now I’m no fan of AOL, but I realize with four people, three computers, and at least two heavy Internet users, this AOL dial-up service will have to go. What do you all recommend? DSL? Cable modem? What do you think the increased monthly charges would be? Hell, if there was a better, cheaper, more reliable dial-up service than AOL, even that could be an option. But I’d especially like to talk my family into paying a bit more and getting the speed and added benefits of cable or DSL. Let me know!

(By the way, our three computers are all between 3 and 4 years old. Mine runs fine, but it has Windows ME, and my mom’s and my brother’s both run terribly slow, with Windows ME and '98, respectively. The latest versions of AOL make their computers more sluggish than usual. And none of us really can upgrade them right now.)

ANY other ISP!!

You’ll definitely want broadband. And get a router so all the computers can be on at the same time. DSL… Cable… doesn’t really matter. Technophiles will be in here later to argue which is better and which can download the latest Star Wars trailer .003 seconds faster than the other. But the truth is, they are both fast. And with your older computers, I doubt you could even tell a difference. Except maybe at peak usage hours, when cable might slow down a little. But in my experience the entire internet slows down at those hours.

If you’re really attached to your AOL screennames and email. AIM is free with any service, and AOL email is only like $10 a month.

I agree with the first point… almost anything is better than AOL. I must disagree with the second one though. I used AOL from late '99 until mid '03 and when I finally wisened up and dumped it, they would not allow me to keep my AIM username which really pissed me off because it was Aesiron, which I literally use everywhere. After doing a little research, I discovered the only way I could get the name back was to get an AOL account, which is ridiculous. I love my name but not that much.

Thanks a lot! I know my brother is pretty attached to his screen name, but it won’t be the end of the world. And I don’t use AOL mail anyway–we’re all Hotmail users, in fact.

So honestly, what kind of monthly prices are we looking at for cable or DSL? Do they ever have deals where you can get a cable modem AND free or lower-priced digital cable, maybe? My dad has been paying all the bills, and I think AOL is something like $22 a month (times two, in our case)–he likes AOL because it’s a “big, trusted name,” but he doesn’t use the computers much, and he’s always skeptical of new technologies and especially new expenses. It’ll be a hard sell to convince him there’s better stuff out there.

I need to move the hell out of this crazy house as soon as possible, but that’s another problem for another thread.

I have a cable modem, a wireless router, and a wireless card for my laptop. My PDA has wireless built in. I can access the internet on all three of them at the same time. You probably need something like that. I use Comcast, so far I have been very pleased with the service. There have been a few glitches, but not too bad.

Aside from the initial cost (which might be a bit, depending on whether or not you’re required to buy the modem), a cable or DSL account should only run around $40, which is slightly less than paying for two AOL accounts would be. If you go with cable, you can also usually get package deals for cheaper cable television, etc.

If he wants a big trusted name, you can get Earthlink DSL, if it is in your area. I use it and I’m pretty happy with it. Had a problem when I got a new computer, and they were able to fix it on the phone with me in about five minutes. They seem to have good customer service. I don’t know if Bellsouth is in your area, but some friends of mine had a lot of trouble with their customer no-service.

NetZero is excellent for cheap reliable dial-up service. I used it for two or three years, starting back when it was free. Now it’s $10 per month for unlimited access. But it’s still dial-up. DSL or cable is the best answer for multiple users in one place. My local cable provider is currently offering A free modem, free installation and reduced initial rates for new subscribers, with the standard rate being less than $50 per month. Talk your dad into it and offer to pay a share, it will be worth it. NetZero was excellent, reliable service, but, man, broadband is just a whole different thing.

I’d definitely suggest dumping dial-up altogether. If other alternatives are unavailable or too expensive, I’d agree that NetZero isn’t too bad.

Assuming you are in BellSouth territory, and that your area is serviced by DSL, there is a bargain rate solution. If you buy BellSouth’s local telephone service with features (Complete Choice) and subscribe to unlimited BellSouth long distance (together, the two will run you about $50), then you can add their DSL Lite product for $25 per month. Likewise, with the same phone service package, you can get their dialup service for $5 per month.

If you already happen to have Complete Choice and unlimited long distance, this is a no-brainer. With regards to Customer Service, they aren’t that bad, especially compared to the cable companies.

Good luck.

I believe what you did wrong was try to get an AIM name after you cancelled your AOL. Am I right? When I had AOL, I also signed up for AIM with the same username - it was allowed as long as I knew the password. After I cancelled AOL, the AIM name was still active. I’ve had BEARNENNO on AIM for years and years now. And it started as my AOL screen name. If you want Aesiron as an AIM name, try this:

Sign up for AOL (i know, i know, stay with me). Sign up for one one of there 3 million hour free trials or whatever the trial length is nowadays. Register your new AOL account as Aesiron. Then after a week or so, register the AIM name “Aesiron”. Then, cancel your AOL membership. HA HA! You win!!

To the OP:
Make sure you register the AIM names before you cancel AOL.

I created my AOL SN as an AIM SN while I was a member of AOL many moons ago, and I still am using my AIM SN today, while my AOL SN is long gone. So, you should have no problem doing that.

As for another ISP, EarthLink or NetZero… or better yet, cable or DSL.

Also remember that most broadband providers, I believe, allow you to create multiple email addresses (Comcast gives you up to 7, for example). So, with a cheap router (so that you can connect all of the computers), you only have to pay for one account with the ISP (be it cable or DSL), and everyone in the house can have his or her own identity.

Nope. I had been using Aesiron as an AIM name for at least a year when I cancelled AOL.

Well, the OP is in Florida, and i’m not sure who the major local phone service provider is down there. Bell South?

I’m with Verizon here in Baltimore, and i’ve been very happy with them. It’s $35 a month for my 768kbps DSL setup. We have it running through a router to two computers, and have had almost no problems. Furthermore, when we did have a couple of small problems early in the service, it was only a network settings problem on the computer and/or router, not a service problem, and the Verizon tech support people i’ve dealt with have always been extrmely friendly and helpful.

Having Windows 98 or ME shouldn’t pose a problem at all. One of our computers runs ME, and has no trouble with the internet (i’ll leave ME’s more general problems aside). Furthermore, a DSL setup with router could well be better for your processor speed than regular dial-up, because if you have a router you don’t need to load any of the ISP’s connection software onto your computer. You just configure the router, and away you go. And AOL has a reputation for clogging computers with a bunch of crap you don’t need.

So, say you can get a 768kbps DSL package for the same price i pay–$35 a month. This is only $13 more than AOL charges for one dial-up line, and $9 less than you are paying for two lines. With the DSL you can still receive phone calls while on the internet. Furthermore, even if you have all three computers running and downloading at the same time, each of those computers will still be downloading at least 4x as fast as dial-up. I really don’t see how anyone in your situation can even contemplate staying with dial-up, especially if you can share the costs of the service.

As i said before, i don’t know who your potential DSL providers are, but you should keep an eye out for deals and extras. For example, in my area Verizon is currently offering a free router to all new DSL customers. If you already have cable TV, and cable internet is available in your area, then that might be a better way to go. I don’t know anything about cable providers, so i’ll leave that to others.