Free Internet Access Term Definitions

The following terms from our free ISP comparison are defined on this page:

Free ISP
This column contains the names of internet service providers that offer free internet access. These are hyperlinks so you can click on the company name to get more info and details on their services or to sign up for free internet access.

Banner Ads
Most free internet providers are able to provide you with internet access for free through revenue earned from advertising. In order to earn enough advertising revenue, they usually have a special window that they display banner ads through. These ads are forced in the sense that generally this window cannot be minimized or hidden. Although you can just ignore the advertisements, they are still wasting space on your screen and they will take up some of your bandwidth while new ads are downloaded. In forcing the window to always be on top without being bypassed, these ad windows can sometimes be buggy and can occasionally cause your computer to crash or lock up.

Some free internet providers with no banner ads have other forms of advertising. This might be small, occasional popup ads or advertising on the page when you first start up your browser. Generally this advertising is far less intrusive than banner ad windows, and would be preferred.

This field indicates whether 56K modems are supported. Just about every free ISP supports modems up through 56K, though previously some only supported 33.6K or slower. They generally support the V.90 standard; if you specifically need X2 or K56 Flex support, check with the provider.

This field indicates whether the free internet service provides a Usenet news server. If the free access provider does not provide a news server, you can always access Usenet discussion groups over the Web through free services like Deja or NewsOne.

Web Space
Some of the free internet providers also offer free web space for you to set up your own web page. This field indicates how much hard disk space they provide (if any) on their web server for your web page. There is no real advantage to getting your free web hosting from your access provider, so even if you want a free web page you may want to go with a access provider that doesn't offer web hosting and pick a web host from our page of free web page providers.

All free internet providers give you a free email address as well. Sometimes they provide a web based email account, where you have to log on to a web page through your browser to access email. Others provide a POP3 email account with a mail server. With these you access your email through a program running on your computer such as Outlook or Eudora rather than your web browser. With POP3 accounts you download your mail to your computer, so you don't have to worry about running out of space on the mail server when you keep your old messages. They also allow you to compose and read email while you are not logged into the internet. You could also get additional free email accounts elsewhere, as described on our free email page.

This field indicates which platforms are supported  by the free ISPs. Just about all free internet access providers support Microsoft Windows, but some also support Macs. Linux is supported by just a few free internet services.

This field describes the availability of local dialup numbers for each free ISP. Most of these free internet access services have local access numbers throughout the USA, but some are only available in limited areas. Some also have local dialup numbers in Canada. If you are in the UK, take a look at our page of free UK internet access providers.

In this field all the special features and limitations of each free internet service provider is explained.

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