Internet service providers offer a service which makes a connection between your computer and the internet. There are often a choice of ISPs to choose from. It is a good idea to shop around to find the service that meets your needs. Service can be provided through telephone lines, cable, wireless or satellite.
Once you have purchased/obtained an account with an ISP you will be given an account name, often an email address, and a password. and should also be provided with instructions on how to change the password to a unique and personalized one. The generic password provided with your account should be changed to one of your own. Protect your password as you would any personal identification number (PIN) number.
The ISP will also provide information on how to configure your software. This can be as simple as inserting a disk and following the steps or entering the settings manually. Once you have configured your internet connection, run the software to connect your computer to your ISP to give you access to the Internet.
There are a number of pieces of software that work together to connect you to the Internet
The first and most complicated is the dialer or socket software. This is the software that makes the physical connection with the ISP's computer and the Internet. This needs to be configured only once but you will need instructions from your ISP on how to do this as each ISP has a different setup.
The second piece is a modem/adapter. The modem can be analog and use the old style phone lines or digital and use digital lines, cables or wireless signals to connect.
The third piece is software. The most common software programs are web browser and email programs. Many software programs/applications need internet access to provide additional service, keep the software up-to-date, connect to storage system, connect to cloud services, etc.
Many companies provide internet access. If you attend a university or college or belong to a military or government organization you can most likely get internet access through your school or work. Restaurants, cafes, hotels, airports and many other companies provide free access using their internet connection. Note that most 'free' internet connections go through a portal so that the company can monitor your usage.
Some global internet companies have also setup free internet access to their systems to provide a way for people with limited resources to access a 'scaled-down' version of their service.
Some groups are devoted to making the Internet accessible to the greater majority of people and create Freenets which allow members free access to the Internet. They run on private and public donations.
Last updated: March 4, 2021