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We recommend an online directory such as the Yahoo directory of Internet Access Providers as the best starting point to locate an Internet service provider (ISP) for your diocese. You can also ask around your community to find out which ISPs are providing good service. Many ISPs have excellent home pages that do a good job of explaining their service offerings; we offer a few comments here in case your local ISP does not employ a technical writer. We cannot recommend one ISP over another, but we can say that there are wide variations in the service quality offered by ISPs, and it is worth your while to be careful. Changing to a new ISP is quite a nuisance.

Also you should remember that it is easy for the public to determine which ISP is providing your service, so you might wish to make sure that the ISP with which you are dealing is not heavily involved in business activities that would be embarrassing to a religious group.

ISPs offer a number of different kinds of services. There are in general three overall categories of service. Please note that all of the prices listed below are typical North American prices; in other parts of the world some of these services are several times as expensive.

  • Access services. This enables you or your group to connect to the Internet, look at things, send email, and receive email at some fixed email address. Typical access services include:
    • Individual dialup access. Typically US$20 to US$40 per month. Allows one person to connect to the Internet providing that there is a modem available to answer the call.
    • Guaranteed dialup access. Typically US$200 or more per month. Allows a high-speed modem to be connected at all times.
    • ISDN access. ISDN is a faster form of dialup that can carry data up to 4 times faster than the fastest modem. It is not available in every part of the world, but in those places where it is available and supported, it works extremely well
    • DSL access. DSL is a relatively new technology (offered to the Internet market for the first time in 1998) by which some locations can use existing telephone wires to get most of the benefits of a leased line at a fraction of the price. The technology is quite good, but it it is not widely available. If it is available for your neighborhood, we highly recommend it from a technology standpoint. DSL has several variants, with names like ADSL and HDSL and UDSL; sometimes people use the name "xDSL" or "XDSL" to mean "all of them". You will want to buy DSL service from an ISP that has good customer support, since it is something new.
    • Leased-line access. Typically US$500 or more per month. Sets up a data circuit, leased from your local telephone company, that permanently connects your office to your ISP, so that all of your office's computers can use the Internet at once.
  • Mail services. This enables your group to participate in more complex email services, including multiple mailboxes, mailing lists, internal email within your organization, etc.
  • Hosting services. This enables your group to publish information on the Internet, including WWW and FTP. Typical hosting services include:
    • User web pages. Relatively low cost, but have a size limit and have a URL like isp.com/users/myname/home.html or www.isp.com/~myname/home.html.
    • "Soft" virtual web service. This is a form of web hosting in which your ISP puts your pages on their server, with a URL like http://yourdio.anglican.org, but they do not allocate it an IP address, which means that many older browsers cannot view it.
    • Virtual web service. Your ISP puts your pages on their server, and allocates you one of the IP addresses out of their pool. This enables URLs like http://yourdiocese.anglican.org, and the site can be viewed by any browser ever shipped, so long as you do not use too-modern fancy features in producing your web page.