Bottom Line
On the Net
For whom the Internet tolls: Finding toll-free ISPs

Rene Tankersley 
Feature Editor

With literally hundreds of Internet service providers (ISP) out there, at least one should have local access phone numbers available anywhere in the country. Unfortunately, that’s not true.

Even ISP pioneers America Online, Prodigy and CompuServe don’t have local access numbers in small towns like Oak Grove, MO; Walcott, IA; and Breezewood, PA. Because truckstops sit in these small towns, cyber-savvy truckers often plug in their laptops, dial up their ISP and find long-distance toll charges or 800-number surcharges of 10 cents per minute or up to $7 per hour because their ISP doesn’t offer local access numbers in the area. Isn’t there a service out there offering nationwide toll-free access?

After researching several ISPs, Land Line found a handful of ISPs with toll-free numbers – 1A1ISP, America Online, CompuServ, Prodigy, AT&T WorldNet, SlingShot Prepaid Internet Service and EarthLink Network.

By figuring the cost per minute, the best toll-free access deals are SlingShot and EarthLink at about 8 cents per minute. SlingShot’s CD ROM disc costs $9.95 at Staples, CompUSA and Service Merchandise and is good for at least 120 minutes on an 800-number or 600 minutes on a local access number. EarthLink’s 800Access Dialup Account costs $24.95 per month for five hours of toll-free access. Each additional hour is $4.95.

For a list of more ISPs, visit www.thelist.com, or type in “Internet service provider” or “ISP” on any Internet search engine such as www.yahoo.com or www.excite.com.

What we found...
Land Line found seven ISPs with 800-number access:

www.1a1isp.com. $17.95/mo. 
for unlimited Internet access, 
plus $7/hr. for 800-number access

www.aol.com. $21.95/mo. 
for unlimited Internet access,
plus 10¢/min. for 800-number access

www.compuserv.com. $21.95/mo. 
for unlimited Internet access, 
plus 10¢/min. for 800-number access

 

www.prodigy.com. $21.95/mo.
for unlimited Internet access, 
plus 10¢/min. for 800-number access

www.att.net. $4.95/mo. 
for limited access, plus $10¢/min. 
for 800-number access

SlingShot Prepaid. $9.95
for 120 minutes of 800-number 
access

 

www.earthlink.net. $24.95/mo. 
for five hours of 800-number 
access each month, plus 
$4.95 per additional hour
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