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Free Internet Access Comparison

Free Internet Access Comparison - PCSTATS
Abstract: We've compared seven of the free Internet access services with an eye to deciding whether or not they can replace the pay services. What can you you get for free? UPDATED with new info on Freewwweb.
Filed under: Software Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: N/A May 15 2000   L. Smilg  
Home > Reviews > Software > N/A

Is there a Free Lunch?

I'm cheap. Right now, I pay $14 a month for 56k dialup access to a local ISP. Recently, some ISPs have offered free 56k Internet access. I decided to take a look at some of the offerings in the free ISP world, and decide whether they could replace my pay Internet service.

The competitors:

Service Download Size Ads? E-mail
Excite 0.71 MB Yes Web
Worldspy 1.33 MB No POP and Web
Netzero 5.00 MB Yes POP
Lycos 0.60 MB Yes Web
Freewwweb 0 MB No POP
Blue Light 3.13 MB Yes POP and Web
Altavista 0.60 MB Yes Web

The major differences between the ISPs in terms of features are ads and E-mail access. Some of the free services depend on ads for their revenue. The ads generally are in a window that takes up some of your screen real estate, and is always on top. Another important difference is the method of E-mail access. POP E-mail allows the use of a program such as Outlook Express (free!), Eudora, or another app resident on your PC to access E-mail. Web based E-mail is read through the browser. I prefer POP E-mail because I can download and filter my mail with my E-mail application. Others prefer web e-mail because it is available from any machine on the Internet.

The tests:

I signed up and accessed each of the Internet services above. I took notes on any interesting restrictions in the EULA, and what sort of personal information they asked for. I took a look at how many access numbers were in my area (Northern Virginia), and looked at how easy it was to set up the dialing number (I need 10 number dialing). I dialed up a couple of times, did a little web browsing, and tried to play Quake III (demo of course) on line. I also attempted to launch my Internet connection from Quicken 2000 Deluxe (Not a free app). I didn't perform any large file download tests because the amount of testing that would be required to get a meaningful result would be too large, and results might vary by user location. For those that care, I used a US Robotics 56K ISA PnP faxmodem for my tests (not a Winmodem).

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Contents of Article: N/A
 Pg 1.  — Free Internet Access Comparison
 Pg 2.  Who wins?

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