How to get connected
We take the internet for granted until a major relocation. Expatica's new technology column tackles the basics about getting connected in the Netherlands.
Internet - the expat's lifeline
I brought my American laptop with me and easily plugged it in to the French power outlet using a simple converter for the plug, as the computer automatically identified and
switched to the correct voltage and current.
However, when it came time to find a European Internet Service Provider (ISP), there were a bewildering number of choices and unfortunately it wasn't as easy as plugging in a cable.
Internet Service Provider
If I wanted a dial-up connection using a modem, the obvious choice was to select a European ISP so that I could dial a local phone number and not pay any long distance charges to use my old Internet provider back in the US.It was very expensive to surf the Internet by making a trans-Atlantic telephone call back to my US-based Internet provider each time I wanted to get connected.
The most logical choice at first seemed to be one of the several Internet Providers that offer "free" Internet connectivity, if they are available in your area. If you are not aware, many countries in Europe charge by the minute for both long-distance and local calls.
After further research, I became aware that these so called "free" providers do not actually charge anything for their service, but when your modem connects to their system - you actually pay more than the standard rate for local telephone calls.
So while their service is free, the phone call costs more! For occasional use, one of these
"free" providers should suit you just fine.
If you will be connected to the internet more than just a few times a month, it is better to sign up with an provider that offers an 'abonnement' or subscription for 5, 10 or 20 hours per month.
With this option, you dial a phone number and pay two charges: the normal cost of the local phone call and the cost of the subscription to their service.
The costs for these services range between USD4.95 and USD19.95/month, plus the cost of the phone call (at about .02 cents/minute).
Cable and ADSLTwo other options, for the die-hard 'web surfers' out there, are ADSL and Cable internet connectivity. These options have been popular in the US for quite some time and are now available across Europe.
These services offer full-time internet connectivity so that you do not have to place a call and connect each time that you wish to gain access to the internet. In effect your computer is always online when your computer is switched on.
Several different speed options are available ranging from 288Kbps (about 5 times as fast as a dial-up modem) up to a rate of 20Mb/second, which is over 350 times faster than dial-up!
These different speed options range from EUR 19.95 to EUR 79.95 per month. Sometimes there is also a small monthly rental charge for the digital modem that is provided by the ISP. You can also purchase a modem to eliminate the monthly rental cost, if you
Not only are you able to connect to the internet over an ADSL (or cable) line, but in many areas you can also use this line to make local and long distance telephone calls.
Many internet providers are including "unlimited" local calling throughout a country, which can be a real money-saver by eliminating these toll charges. We'll further explain "Telephoning using the Internet" in a later technology column on Expatica, so stay tuned.
Keep in mind that if you have an email address such as hotmail.com, yahoo.com or (perhaps your own domain name) that you can easily send and receive email using your European ISP.
You do not necessarily have to change email addresses to the new ISP, although
that option is usually available.
The most important thing to remember when signing up for internet access throughout Europe is to verify the complete and total charge for access. Choose the right service for the amount of time that you plan to spend connected to the Internet, before you get a huge bill for access that you didn't expect - or need.
And be aware of any hidden charges or other connection fees that you may pay for using the telephone line or cable systems.
Ask yourself: will you be accessing the internet once in a while or will you be downloading and uploading large audio or video files?
Have you a technology question? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
[Copyright Kevin Yost + Expatica 2005]
Subject: expats and the internet, getting connected to the internet