Roaming Internet Access:
Most roaming Internet access networks have been built on individual Internet Access Providers who have been linked together into networks.
A more direct approach to international Internet access has been taken by IBMs Internet Connection Services. It has its own network with dial-up numbers, help desks and registration offices in 52 countries around the world.
There are a number of advantages to IBMs approach. First, theyve made the system easy to use. To register for the service, you download dialer software from IBMs Web site, or request it from one of the companys registration offices that are found in most countries connected by IBMs system.
Next you load the software, according to a spokesperson for IBM technical support, and you are led through an online registration process that takes no more than five or 10 minutes. Your account is then immediately available for use.
The dialer utility is available in Windows 95, Windows 3.1 and Mac versions. It stores the 1,100 local phone numbers that IBMs network uses and helps you establish your connections.
If you are shopping around for a US-based Internet Access Provider, IBM may be a good choice. For US$19.95 per month you get unlimited connect time and full Internet access. This is a competitive price. But what is particularly attractive is that for the same $19.95, you can use any of IBMs local numbers in any of its 52 countries. There are no surcharges. No extra costs.
The $19.95 is for service provided to individuals who initiate their accounts in the US or Canada. If you live in another country, you can use the network for both local and international access, but your fees will be set locally and will probably be higher. Corporate pricing is available.
IBM also has a second pricing scheme. For $4.95 a month, you get three hours of connect time and pay an additional $1.95 for each hour over this. This may be attractive for people who wish to maintain an existing account with an Internet Access Provider but use IBM for international access.
About half of IBMs local phone numbers are located in the US and Canada. Almost all of these have been equipped to handle US Robotics x2 technology, enabling download connection speeds up to 56Kbps. IBMs connections in other countries are scheduled to be upgraded as well.
Users within the US can use a toll-free 800 number if they are not served by a local phone number, for an additional fee of $.10/minute.
Which system of international Internet access will be best for you? If you meet the following three criteria, then you should go with IBM:
If, on the other hand, your area is not served directly by one of IBMs local numbers, then it wouldnt be economical to use IBM as your regular local provider. Since you will already be maintaining an account elsewhere, the advantages of IBMs system are less clear cut since you will have to pay IBM in addition to what youre already paying. But IBMs three hours for $4.95 may still be attractive.
You should also note that roaming services such as HomeGate and EUnet Traveller generally dont charge you at all for international Internet use if you dont use the system in a given month. But with IBM, youll be paying each and every month regardless of use.
The easiest place to start is at the IBM Internet Connection Services Web site at http://www.ibm.net. There you can find additional information, download the dialer software that also handles registration, and consult lists of local phone numbers, help desks and registration offices. In the US you can order the dialer software by calling 800/722-1425.