Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Pay As You Go Internet Access

Broadband or dedicated Internet access is almost universal for business locations, even small companies and home-based operations. But what if your broadband isn't available? It might go down for hours, or even a few days in the case of residential DSL and Cable services. Or you might be traveling on business or vacation where you have phone service but no WiFi hotspots. What do you do when the broadband umbilical is temporarily unavailable?

One answer is to maintain a separate dial-up Internet service account for just such situations. At today's rates you can get basic dial-up Internet service as low as $7.95 a month for 56K Internet access from thousands of local access numbers.

Another approach is the prepaid Internet, also known as pay as you go Internet service. Assuming that you normally use a broadband Internet connection through a shared T1 line, cable or DSL modem, or wireless access point, you probably won't be a heavy user of a dial-up account. Instead of paying a monthly fee for a service that you only occasionally use, why not get a prepaid account good for a year?

Tollfree ISP offers just such an account with many rate plans good for individuals, small companies and major corporations. The least expensive plan is called "Express Plus." You pay $9.99 for dial-up access at about a penny a minute or 59 cents an hour. That rate is good for dial up from local access numbers in the USA and Canada. You can also make calls from 150 other countries, although the per minute rate is higher. There are 24,000 worldwide access numbers with 17,000 of them in the U.S. You also have the option of calling a toll free number if you are somewhere in the boonies without a local access number, but again at higher per minute rates.

Note that the Tollfree ISP Express Plus plan is $9.99. Your minutes expire one year from the date you order them. When you add minutes to your account, the clock is reset for another year and your unused minutes rollover. So, for under $1 a month you have backup Internet access minutes for emergencies and travel.

There are larger plans for heavier individual users and corporate use. The largest, the "Diamond" business plan, accommodates 500 users and offers a 20% discount on rates. According to TollFree ISP, larger companies can reduce their dial-up access costs up to 90% over using traditional fixed rate monthly ISPs.

You'll need your own email account, either POP or web based. Most everyone has an email account now. Infrequent Internet users can get one of the free web-based email services that are readily available online. TollFree ISP providers dialer software that includes an automatically updating phone directory of their access numbers. You can also manually configure your computer's dialer to work with the service. Live customer technical support is toll free and available 24 x 7. Now that's something you don't get from many of the more expensive monthly Internet Service Providers.

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