Getting to the Internet
There are many different access plans and methods to connect a Personal Computer to the Internet. The services are provided by Internet Service Providers, ISPs, and vary widely in price and function.
The most common service is "POTS," or plain old telephone service, although satellite and cable modems are on the horizon. The horizon is Tampa, Orlando and Miami, where services, such as the Road Runner cable modem, are in full swing.
Charlotte County may be allowed to join the high speed revolution as the trunks and backbones are extended down Florida's southwest coast. Even "POTS" may have a breath of life as Digital Subscriber Lines are to be activated in the future. One of my Bell South friends in Miami has been using DSL at his home for several months now. He has become addicted to high speed access. He is a music lover, downloading the new MP3 format quickly and without errors. To those loading big files, DSL is a major breakthrough in speed, even though the cost is over twice the rate for normal ISP service.
To the advertising and print media, the high speed transmissions mean huge, formerly cumbersome graphics files, such as photographs, now take only a matter of seconds or minutes instead of hours to send or receive.
But we are in Charlotte County, where I'm asked on a regular basis, "How can I get on AOL from Punta Gorda without paying long distance access charges?" Many AOL members in Punta Gorda complain about lack of access. There is a way to use your AOL account, and it is cheaper than long distance calling to an AOL access number. AOL calls it "bring your own access."
Even though the E-mail address I use for my column is "email@example.com," my Internet Service Provider (ISP) is not AOL. My ISP is a service by an organization I was formerly involved with at $15.95 a month, a reduced rate from their normal $19.95 package. I piggyback my AOL service as a "bring your own access" customer at a reduced AOL price of $9.95 a month. I use TCP/IP to connect to AOL.
There are several ISPs in the Punta Gorda area where the local access call is toll-free. The soon-to-be released AOL 6.0 promises to make AOL mail look and act like everyone else. AOL, by the way, is a "proxy" server, and having your mail waiting for you, no matter how many unread messages are waiting when you log on, is kind of nice.
The Internet has come a long way in just a few short years. I was an original Prodigy subscriber in the 1980s and had to buy an Enhanced Graphics Display and adapter and a 300 baud modem for my PC/XT.
As Dean Martin used to say, "keep those cards and letters coming in, friends!"
George Mindling © 2000