a CD-ROM disc that automates the process of installing software and establishing an account.
* Do you provide space for a home page? If so, how much, and does it cost anything? Many ISPs provide some Web space for free, generally ranging from 1 megabyte to 10 megabytes. If you plan to create a business Web site, find out the fees involved. Prices vary widely.
* When is telephone support available? Some ISPs offer it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while others do so for only limited hours during the work week.
* Do you offer a "UNIX shell account" along with a standard "SLIP/PPP account"? A shell account can be helpful in collecting your e-mail if you travel.
As your portal to cyberspace, your ISP plays a big part in your online experience. Make the right decision now, and you won't have to look around again later.
Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book "Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway." He can be reached at
January Table of Contents