On-line Systems, Internet Providers and More...

Jeff Carrell - Email Liaison

reprinted from Signals April 1995 (IEEE FtWorth Section Newsletter)

Now you have seen the basics of getting an email link, but the question is, with who.

At the end of this article is a chart of on-line and service providers. Although there are many options to choose from, let me break them down a bit. Also, this is not a comprehensive list of every service available, rather a sample of the larger, better known systems.

On-line service providers are usually large computer mainframe systems with large database systems and tons of information. Although most of them have links to the Internet for email and such, they offer a much larger variety of services than just email; like special interest groups, bulletin boards, news and reference materials. Also, these systems usually have dial-in service available in most major cities. One issue with subscribing to an on-line system, you usually pay for connect time as you use it. Meaning, you are charged for each minute dialed in and sometimes even an extra charge for a sub-section area.

Service Providers are usually those systems that provide a 'link' to the Internet. They generally only provide shell or SLIP/PPP type access accounts and don't offer the same services as the on-line providers. There are few national service providers, but most are usually local to an area. However, most of them charge a flat fee for usage, therefore you are not constrained or surprised by a large on-line usage bill.

Next month, I'll discuss the various software packages that can be used to dial into these types of systems.