TACTIC: If you get an Internet account, use a
quality service, and consider a permanent email address.
There has been an explosion in companies that will provide you with
Internet access. You can spend around $20 per month for unlimited
access to the Internet and your own email account.
Here are some things to consider when considering an ISP:
Reputation of provider. How long has the company been in business?
Are there written, independent reviews of the reliability and
quality of the company's Internet connection and customer service?
Check computer magazines for ratings and reviews of national
Internet access providers.
What you need. The ISP industry has evolved a standard package of
services that most people need (access to the Web and Internet
email). There may be variations, but the standard package offered
by a reputable ISP is what you will probably need as a beginner.
When you sign up with an ISP, the email address assigned to you will
usually include the name of the ISP. For example, your email address
might be firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can give
out this email address to your friends and contacts, but what if you
switch your Internet service provider? Your email address will
change. You will have to tell all your contacts. You may also have
to reprint your business cards and re-enter your email address in
You can give yourself a stable Internet identity by establishing a
permanent email address. This may cost extra, but the permanence you
gain may be worth it. Here are two ways you can do this:
A mail forwarding service. For example, http://www.pobox.com offers
a service that will accept mail for you at a particular address,
like firstname.lastname@example.org, and then forward this mail to your current
ISP account. If you change your ISP, you can change where your mail
is forwarded. You can give out your permanent email address. This
is particularly useful when your current Internet account is tied
to your school or job. Other companies that provide this service
are http://www.iName.com, http://www.netaddress.com/,
and http://www.netforward.com. Some of
these forwarding services are free--check the Web sites for current
Your own domain name. You can be master of your own domain and
"own" the suffix of your email address. For example, I own the
domain december.com, so my email address is, and will always will
be, email@example.com. This gives me a permanent email address and
a more professional online identity. Owning your own domain, of
course, costs you money. You'll need to pay an annual fee to the
institution that registers Internet domains. Talk with your
Internet access provider about how you can do this--your ISP will
often fill out the forms necessary for you to get your own domain
name. Ask your ISP how much it will cost to forward mail sent to
your domain name to your ISP account.
TACTIC: If you want your own Web site for business
purposes, get your own domain name.
You may get some Web space as part of your Internet access. This is
fine for your informal or hobby use, but for your business, you need
more stability and a professional identity. It is better to give out
your own domain name than a partition of your ISP's site.
Ask your Internet Service Provider if they can set you up with your
own domain name and provide Web space on their server.
As part of the Web space package, you will usually have access to
electronic mail forwarding. This gives both a permanent email
address in addition to a permanent Web address.