CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Local on-line services net results

by Cathi Schuler

How can I get on the Internet? This question is asked repeatedly and until recently local access required a subscription to a major online service provider, such as Prodigy or CompuServe. Now we finally have local connectivity to the Internet, with additional services emerging at this very moment!

After using America Online for years as my primary connection to cyberspace, I decided it was time to try out a dedicated Internet Service Provider (ISP) and sample the differences. What better opportunity than hooking into Stockton's first direct Internet access, InReach Internet Communications, to test the waters. InReach, which debuted in June, is a local company that provides Internet access in cooperation with CalPage and AmeriCall Long Distance, both Stockton companies that provide paging and long distance services.

The InReach team provided top-notch service from the start. From the receptionist to tech support, the staff was knowledgeable, courteous and prompt in responding to any questions or problems I encountered. The InReach subscription came with Quarterdeck Mosaic as its World Wide Web browser, QWinsock to connect to the Internet, and Quarterdeck Mail Client to send/receive e-mail and subscribe to newsgroups. The software was straightforward and easy to install.

Although QMosaic is an acceptable web browser, I like Netscape as a matter of preference, so I simply contacted a Netscape site through QMosaic and downloaded the Netscape software. It installed quickly and configured easily with QWinsock.

Browsing the Web using my InReach connection was noticeably faster than browsing via America Online, using the same modem. With InReach, you have a direct Point to Point Protocol (PPP) connection to the Internet, as opposed to connecting to the Net through AOL (terminal emulation). E-mail through InReach can even be sent directly to your pager! This company is strictly an Internet service provider and as such does not offer the comprehensive cyber-services that America Online or Prodigy offer, but if you're primarily interested in accessing the Internet, a PPP direct connection is the way to go.

As a service, InReach offers assistance in developing and maintaining Web pages, actual Internet sites for your business, on the World Wide Web. Additionally, InReach is promoting Web sites for local non-profit agencies and organizations as a service to the community. (Contact John Keagy, Marketing Director, at 1-800-InReach for additional information.)

Sonnet Networking is another almost-local Internet Service Provider. Although based in Sonora, Sonnet provides a local connection for Stockton and Modesto customers. The service offers both PPP accounts and shell accounts (terminal emulation). Rather than including a commercial software package such as Quarterdeck, Sonnet packages a Windows Jumpstarter kit with its product. Jumpstarter is a collection of shareware programs preconfigured for Sonnet including Netscape as a Web browser and Eudora for e-mail.

Today is actually the premier of Stockton's newest member of regional cyberspace, Neighbor.Net. This Stockton business is an "online community" offering a wide variety of services, in addition to Internet connectivity. Core services will include online chat, games, Usenet news, e-mail, Community calendar, polls, questionnaires and an online shopping mall featuring local businesses.

Rather than installing Neighbor.Net with diskettes, I logged onto their BBS through the Windows terminal and downloaded the client software, Worldgroup Manager, by Galacticomm. This is a collection of shareware applications, including Netscape as a Web browser. The installation process was painless and easy to follow. Once connected, a friendly interface provided choices for all available options. This is a brand new service and some areas are still under development, but Neighbor.Net projects that by early 1996 the Stockton community will have a cohesive presence on this new online enterprise.

Your choices for online service providers are now greater than ever with local as well as national options. All services provide the Internet basics in a variety of forms: a World Wide Web browser, E-Mail and Usenet newsgroups. Additional features and will vary from provider to provider and their usefulness will totally depend on your individual needs. Call, ask questions and shop around. Most vendors will provide a free trial period for you to evaluate their product so you can select a connection to cyberspace that is the most appropriate for you.

InReach Internet Communications $24.95/month + $25.00 set-up fee 101 hours of Internet access per month, $1.00 hour for each additional hour 1-800-InReach

Sonnet Networking $27.00/month + $29.00 connection fee Unlimited Internet access 1-800-50-ONLINE

Neighbor.Net $9.95/month includes the Online Community and 3 hours of Internet access $24.95/month includes the Online Community and unlimited Internet access No connection fee 209-473-6011

Feedback? E-Mail cschuler@ceeprompt.com

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