I'm going to agree with CH, Guest, and Fionn. It definitely does matter.
Most users online are casual users. They get on, get their mail, surf a bit, and then logoff. Some of us diehard users require more power than that.
Now I liken which ISP to use to buying a computer. Most casual users, will go and buy a 'namebrand' system, because they don't know diddly about computers. Some companies (Compaq as an extreme example) use non-standard parts(which means that only compaq parts can be used in compaq computers, hence you gotta buy it from them) and most people don't realize that their are small 'mom and pop' computer stores right in their hometown which not only build a system that meets 'Your' needs, but uses standard parts, which means you can swap parts down the road and upgrade.
The last time I bought a whole 'brand-new' computer was early 1991-1992. Bought it from a small store which went out of business a year later. But it wasn't a problem. That system was upgraded, a little at a time, a bit here and there, by buying parts from local stores. The old parts, if they were still good, went to friends and relatives who could use the part to upgrade themselves, just like all the child's clothes you recieved through your life.
Now back to ISP. Alot of people use AOL out there cause its the biggest and they just don't know better. Proper looking around would find that there is probably a few alternatives in every major and minor city in N. America. When I first got online, I tried AOL. I gave them a Credit Card and such. Got the free time usage and stuff. Then I used a stopwatch to confirm I didn't go over. I still had a bill. And it was big. I started looking around for an alternative. A local provider here, called Managed Network Systems Inc. (MNSi) offered unlimited usage for a flat rate of 25 bucks Canadian. I stuck with them for 4 years under that plan, until I went broadband. I looked into cable and Dsl, and finally decided on DSL. Then MNSi advertised they would be a DSL provider. I went with them for 40 bucks a month unlimited.
One of the big bonuses of dealing with them, being local, is that if for whatever reason, I don't have enough in my checking acct to pay for the month (it happens once in a blue moon) I can go to their office and deal with it. No waiting on the phone for the next available attendant and such. Clinton goes with Cable from the local 'cogeco' cable provider. They both have tech assistance and being local probably helps for those one or two times that soemthing might go wrong.
Now, Andrew's original message stated that he wants something for free. Well, there are still free providers out there, by dialing 1-800 numbers and such, and you just need a free email acct like hotmail to get your mail. The only thing about these, are they:
- Hard to find, and alot of people use them
- You usually will be stuck with a banner. Minor inconvience
- No guarantee they will be there one day to the next.
Since he was online, (had to be to post the msg) try a Google search on free Internet service providers. That should help.