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Free (or very low cost) internet access?
Old 02-19-2008, 04:50 PM   #1
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Free (or very low cost) internet access?

I am looking for free or low cost ISP for a neighbor.

Can someone recommend one?

Thanks.
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Old 02-19-2008, 05:31 PM   #2
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I suspect this is not what you're looking for, but I believe most local libraries provides free internet access in most communities. And if you have a Wi-Fi laptop, PDA, iPhone, Ipod Touch, etc. there are quite a few free Wi-Fi hotspots where you can surf for free.
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Old 02-19-2008, 05:48 PM   #3
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You want cheap, I'll give you what my father-in-law has been swearing by for seven years: Wal-Mart.

WMConnect.com, the unwanted stepchild of what used to be Compuserve, is now experimented with run by AOL using Netscape:
Member Center - Terms of Service

It used to be $9.95/month but may have soared up to $14.95/month.

Then there's always $9.95/month JunoTurbo: Juno Internet Service- Value-priced Internet Service Provider - ISP - Free, low-cost and fast Internet Access

I gotta warn your neighbor, though, that this is what you get by being cheap.
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Old 02-19-2008, 05:53 PM   #4
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Get a wireless card and see if a neighbor has an open WAP.

Make sure you have a firewall first.
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:17 PM   #5
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dsl extreme is around 12.95/mo if you can get it. I have Verizon dsl for 14.95/mo. But I suppose you mean cheaper than those.
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:26 PM   #6
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I fiddled with an endless series of cheap ISP's for my MIL, who uses it about once a month and really doesnt need anything costly.

Drove me nuts. They switched price plans. Went out of business. Got acquired by other ISP's that converted the account, started charging my credit card like crazy, it'd stop working and we wouldnt be able to get anyone on the support line and nobody would answer support emails, etc.

We finally ended up with an Earthlink plan that costs a little less than $14 a month, prepaid for a year...I think its $165/year?

Basically my experience was that when you go below $9 a month, the provider gets squirrelly at some point.
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:38 PM   #7
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Supposedly NetZero will give you 10 free hours a month, I didn't look into too closely though.....

NetZero.com Net Zero Dial Up Internet Service Provider offering High Speed and Free Internet Access ISP
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:42 PM   #8
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FYI - the netzero "free" and a number of the other free or very low cost (<$5) ISP's require that you use their software (which blasts you constantly with ads) and tracks your internet usage.

Read the fine print before you buy.
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Old 02-19-2008, 08:07 PM   #9
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"Shouldn't the internet be free for everybody?"
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Old 02-19-2008, 08:28 PM   #10
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Get a wireless card and see if a neighbor has an open WAP.
Setting the ethics aside for a moment, let's talk enforcement-- wouldn't that hypothetical neighbor's hypothetically open WAP have some means of detecting what you're doing?
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Old 02-19-2008, 09:55 PM   #11
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Setting the ethics aside for a moment, let's talk enforcement-- wouldn't that hypothetical neighbor's hypothetically open WAP have some means of detecting what you're doing?
Well, ethics aside, here's what you're potentially up against. Those router / wireless access points you buy at Best Buy or Costco typically have no wireless security out of the box. If they don't, then you just tell your OS that you want to use that access point and you're good to go.

Now, the question is, who's on the other side. They could be a clueless neighbor that didn't know to secure anything. They could be a neighbor that just doesn't care who's using their network. Or, they could be malicious. In the past, option 1 was a pretty safe bet. These days, well, you could profile the neighborhood and make an educated guess.

It's pretty easy to see who is using your network. And, once someone is on your network, one could easily set up a network sniffer to see if they're sending anything interesting. Further, one could start to run attacks against the computer on the network to see if there was any means to exploit that machine. These days, an enterprising individual can just download software to attempt to do all of the exploiting for them.

The simplest way to safeguard oneself when attempting to use an open network is to make sure their OS has the latest patches, has a firewall installed, has up-to-date anti-virus, and make sure you're using SSL with any site you visit (https not http). There can be more to it than that but that's a good place to start.

Another option would be to see if there's a neighbor in the area with wireless that you trust and see if they'll just let you on their network for a modest fee.

As an aside...

a business-class cable contract or DSL contract may allow the end user to provision access as desired. One can pick up a cheap access point control at Best Buy or other fine retailer that can be tuned to how the provider (neighbor in this case) wants to allow access. For example, the hypothetical neighbor could let everyone use their service, they could require you to register and authenticate, they could even integrate with a payment gateway and charge a flat rate or based on usage. All out of the box. Anyway, interesting if anyone wants to be the neighborhood ISP. We were working on a concept at my last employer (large CE retailer) where we'd run WiMax out to a location, hook that to a standard wifi access point and then handle provisioning.

The whole thing works just like you might see at a coffee shop or hotel where you're intercepted by a page of some sort the first time you fire up a browser.
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:00 PM   #12
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Oh, and on the other side of it... if you have a wireless access point and you want to restrict access to it, you should, at a minimum, set up some sort of security between your computers and your router. In my case, I use WEP between my computers and router. Further, my router only allows MAC addresses that I specify to connect. It's a bit paranoid, but I don't trust people like me.
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:40 PM   #13
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Frankly, WEP is less than worthless. Your computer and router are doing work to produce the encryption, and the average machine in range can decipher your WEP key in less than ten minutes. Mine could do it in under a minute.

The mac address limitation is good for resisting connections. But once your WEP key is deciphered, everything you send and receive is open for viewing and analysis.

While you can take a chance on security through obscurity, I'd find it a poor decision to do any financial transactions or pass any passwords through an unknown wireless router.

It'd take my old desktop just a couple of weeks to break your SSL/https transactions...

I'd use WPA, or preferably WPA2...and leave anything sensitive for when I was home or knew the router I was passing through...

I guess the good news is there are plenty of people with open routers and no encryption at all, plus they've turned on file sharing and have a trojan or two running on their machine. So maybe theres so much cheap and available action, nobody will get around to sporking your password to Fidelity...
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:51 PM   #14
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in conclusion, your best bet is to not live next to CFB.
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Old 02-19-2008, 11:51 PM   #15
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It'd take my old desktop just a couple of weeks to break your SSL/https transactions...
I think you'd be the first to do it.
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Old 02-20-2008, 08:35 AM   #16
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Old 02-20-2008, 09:10 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
You want cheap, I'll give you what my father-in-law has been swearing by for seven years: Wal-Mart.

WMConnect.com, the unwanted stepchild of what used to be Compuserve, is now experimented with run by AOL using Netscape:
Member Center - Terms of Service

It used to be $9.95/month but may have soared up to $14.95/month.

Then there's always $9.95/month JunoTurbo: Juno Internet Service- Value-priced Internet Service Provider - ISP - Free, low-cost and fast Internet Access

I gotta warn your neighbor, though, that this is what you get by being cheap.
Does Juno Turbo really speed things up 5x times over regular dial up? Downloads any faster?
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Old 02-20-2008, 10:29 AM   #18
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Setting the ethics aside for a moment, let's talk enforcement-- wouldn't that hypothetical neighbor's hypothetically open WAP have some means of detecting what you're doing?
Setting both ethics and enforcement aside, let's talk stupidity lack of knowledge. About a year ago I noticed my DSL connection began working slower than it had before, and would also disconnect at random times. I lived with it for a couple of months until my son, who works in the industry, visited. I mentioned the problem, he checked it, and said I'd been using my neighbor's unsecured wireless. Seems my own router had died, my computer automatically connected to my neighbor and, being further away, it had a weaker signal. He replaced the modem and I regained my old speed.

I mentioned it to my neighbor, and he didn't have a clue that I had been unintentionally using his router, nor did he particularly care. So I told him if his ever died, he could use mine to return the favor.
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Old 02-20-2008, 10:34 AM   #19
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Setting both ethics and enforcement aside, let's talk stupidity lack of knowledge. About a year ago I noticed my DSL connection began working slower than it had before, and would also disconnect at random times. I lived with it for a couple of months until my son, who works in the industry, visited. I mentioned the problem, he checked it, and said I'd been using my neighbor's unsecured wireless. Seems my own router had died, my computer automatically connected to my neighbor and, being further away, it had a weaker signal. He replaced the modem and I regained my old speed.

I mentioned it to my neighbor, and he didn't have a clue that I had been unintentionally using his router, nor did he particularly care. So I told him if his ever died, he could use mine to return the favor.
You maybe should have told him to secure his router. And maybe you should secure yours too. A third party could interfere with either of you.
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Old 02-20-2008, 11:26 AM   #20
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dsl extreme is around 12.95/mo if you can get it. I have Verizon dsl for 14.95/mo. But I suppose you mean cheaper than those.
Today, I signed up for 3-mo of DSL Xtreme dial up (gulp!) for 11.95/mo; their cheapest plan is $9.95/mo for a one-year contract. I'll let you know how it goes, maybe I'll sign in from there. My standards are very low and as long as I'm w*rking, the home computer won't be used all that much.

How's this for unclear on the concept of LBYM: I'm attaching dial up to a new MacBook pro. But experience tells me that the good ole REF will inspire me to upgrade the connection.
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