We rely upon the Internet for a great many things: communication, information, shopping, financial transactions and many things that touch other facets of our lives. Most ways of accessing the Internet--such as DSL or satellite dish--can cost from $20 to $80 a month. Therefore, some might opt for a no-cost solution such as free dial-up Internet service. For purposes of this article, we will cover how to create a free dial-up connection using a computer that has Microsoft's Windows XP operating system.
Power up your PC and install the software from the Internet Service Provider (ISP). You can obtain this software by downloading it from another computer to removable media (such as a writable CD, floppy disk or flash drive), ordering a CD from the ISP or obtaining a free software CD from an office supply store such as Office Depot.
If you have a CD, insert it into the CD-ROM drive. Open Windows Explorer, double-click the CD drive name (such as "D:", for a computer with a single CD-ROM) and double-click the setup file icon. The file which is to be run will have a name such as "Setup.exe" or "JunoSetup.exe." This will open the program setup wizard.
When prompted by the program setup wizard, enter the location on the hard disk in which the program will be installed, such as in "C:\Program Files," and click "Next." After the program setup wizard installs the files needed to run the dial-up application, the setup software will prompt you to select a username and password. These are the credentials that identify you to the dial-up network server.
When choosing your username and password, make sure to choose something you will remember easily, or write this information down and keep it in a secure location (such as a locked desk drawer).
The dial-up application will automatically contact the dial-up network and will give you a list of dial-up access numbers. These are telephone numbers that your modem will use to connect to the dial-up network. Select an access number that would be a local call from your area to the dial-up network. (This step saves the dial-up access number as your preferred means of connecting to the dial-up network.) Click "Finish" to exit the setup wizard.
To connect to the dial-up server, click "Start," select "Programs" and choose the ISP's dial-up application (such as "NetZero Free Dial-Up"). Enter your username and password and then click "Connect."
- Several ISPs offer free dial-up accounts. A partial list can be found at http://www.thefreesite.com/Free_Internet_Access (see Reference 1).
- Revenue for the free dial-up service is generated by advertisements served to free dial-up connections. Paid dial-up service typically does not have these advertisements served to their connections.
- Free dial-up service has a limit of how many hours a month it can be used. For example, both NetZero and Juno allow for 10 hours of use a month for their free accounts.
- Several ISPs have a toll-free access number available to their paid accounts. Often, this number cannot be used by a free account if there is not a local access number available in your area.