Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

2.9. Wait a minute! What about free access?

It's a common misconception that access to the Internet is free. The costs of the Internet are shared by those who use it. Many folks get Internet access at no cost to them through their school or employer (or through the occasional BBS or FreeNet), which seems to help spread the rumor that the Internet is free for all of us. Sure, it's free to those lucky ones, but you can be sure that someone--such as their school or employer--is paying dearly to provide Internet access.

If you are a college (or even high-school) student or faculty member, check with your campus computer center to learn about the online facilities available to you. Many schools offer free accounts to students and staff. Similarly, your business may offer Internet access to employees--if you know the right person to ask. Finding access at your institution is a great way to get a free Internet account.

Beware of special restrictions on Internet use imposed by your institution. For instance, most schools frown on the use of their accounts for business or other nonacademic activities. Such policies may be as simple as posted rules or as elaborate as firewalls preventing you from using multiuser dungeons, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), and other interesting stuff.

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