Getting Connected to the Internet
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It is possible to use the internet without even having your own computer. You can use an internet cafe, or, use the facilities of a library or here in Pontrobert you may be able to use the computers in the community hall. However, if you want to connect your own computer to the internet, you must think about:

    ~   equipment
    ~   internet service provider (ISP)
    ~   other software (ISP)

The equipment

If you don't have a computer yet, it should be possible to buy all the equipment you need to connect to the Internet (including the computer) for a few hundred pounds (many people spend more, but it isn't necessary). You can even buy a second hand computer. You will also need an ordinary telephone socket, and connection to your computer. There are two types of simple internet connection, dial-up and broadband. With dial-up, if your computer and phone share a single socket, you can't use the internet and phone at the same time, so you might want to consider having a second telephone line installed. With broadband, you can use both at the same time. However, broadband needs a special sort of telephone line, which needs setting up. This may be done by your ISP (see below).
There is a type of internet connection which doesn't need a wire connected to the telephone socket. It uses radio instead and is called Wi-Fi. Your main computer would need the physical connection, but a laptop, for example, could use Wi-Fi to connect to the internet through your main computer. Or this laptop could use an internet connection supplied by a friendly coffe shop or pub.

The internet service provider

To connect your home computer to the internet, you need an internet service provider (ISP). This is a company that provides the software you need to link your computer to the internet. It may also give you email services and webspace for your own webpages.

Your ISP will give you a dial-up or broadband connection. Dial-up is simpler to connect and cheaper if you don't use the internet much. However, it is very slow, and you may have to pay for the length of time that you are connected to the internet. Broadband needs a special sort of telephone line and you pay a flat rate use, as your computer is connected to the internet whenever it is switched on. However, charging varies widely for either type of connection between different ISPs, so you need to find out exactly what you will pay, under what conditions, and what services you get.

To find out which ISP to use, ask other people for their experiences. CDs with ISP software are widely available in shops, magazines and junk mail, or it may be already in the computer when you buy it.

There are a several things to think about in selecting an ISP. Costs vary widely. Some ISPs are more reliable than others. Others withdraw advertised services, or can be slow due to adverts or high demand. Some have helplines that charge premium phone rates. Others offer an initial free (or cheap) service but then start charging more, or have other 'strings' attached. Read the fine print carefully.

You can change your ISP. Remember that once you have an email address with one ISP and swap to another, you will need to tell everyone your new email address. Also cancel the old subscription once you decide you no longer need its services.

Other software

There is other software that you need to think about. You should have good
virus protection and a firewall on your computer. If you use Wi-Fi then it should be set up to stop anyone else stealing your internet time.

To use the internet, you need a programme called a browser. Internet Explorer is the main browser used by Windows, and this will be in your computer when you buy it. You can use other browsers if you wish.

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