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Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Monday, December 1, 2008

How to change your Internet Service Provider

The most important thing to know about changing your ISP is that it isn’t hard. Essentially you just have to identify a new one and call them. Below, I’ve set out some questions and answers on changing ISPs.

What is an Internet Service Provider?

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is the company that you pay to provide you with access to the Internet. The main thing your ISP does is connect you to the Internet via broadband or by dial-up modem, but they might also provide you with an email address, and provide other services like running a website for you.

Who is my ISP?

They bill you every month. If you have a Telecom phone and there are Internet charges on your phone bill then you probably are using Telecom Xtra as an ISP. Other names are Clear Net and Paradise which are part of TelstraClear, and Ihug which is part of Vodafone. There are lots of other smaller companies which provide Internet access, and they often provide better service.

Why would I change?

To get better service. Although the “S” in ISP stands for “Service”, some of them provide little or no customer service, according to Consumer. Keep them honest, and change away from the bad ones.

Which ISP should I change to?

Have a look at the Consumer survey (Consumer membership required) or read the summary here. The 2008 survey shows the ISP wtih the best customer service to be Inspire. The worst by a country mile, according to the survey, is Telecom / Xtra.

How do I go about changing?

Contact the new ISP and ask them. They should help – if they don’t seem to want to, go to a different one.

What about my email?

If you are using your ISP’s email server and you have an email address that looks like myname@isp.co.nz, you have two choices. Either you can change to myname@newisp.co.nz, or you can change to myname@mydomainname.co.nz. The best way is to get your own domain name, then if you change ISPs again you won’t have to change email address. Ask your new ISP to arrange the domain name – expect to pay another $30-40 per year for this. If it’s more, go somewhere else.  You are email address either way – although you can probably get your old ISP to forward your email for a while so you don’t miss mail sent to the old address. Xtra do it for about $2.50 per month.

You’ll also need to change the settings on your email client program, like Outlook or Thunderbird, to use your new ISP and new email address. Your new ISP can give you instructions on this.

I already have a domain name – how do I change ISP?

It’s very easy, providing you are already using your domain name for email.  Just make sure your new ISP knows about your domain name when you ask them to change over. Your email address won’t change at all. You will still need to adjust your email client program to point to your new ISPs servers – ask them about this.

posted by colin at 8:40 pm  

5 Comments

  1. Hi there – I am currently looking for a new ISP. Have had some very cheap quotesfrom Compass. They tell me that telecom deliberately throttles the broadband speed and compass can supply it twice as fast and much cheaper than the basis telecom plan. Do you have any experience with Compass – can I believe what they say? Thanks for all the info so far…

    Comment by Karen Radcliffe — 10 December 2008 @ 1:33 pm

  2. I’ve no experience with Compass. However, they are next to bottom of the Consumer survey for customer satisfaction.

    Colin

    Comment by colin — 11 December 2008 @ 8:23 am

  3. I think you have to proof-read the “What about my email?” section again.

    You speak of domains but not hosts. Purchasing a domain doesn’t mean your email (or any data for that matter) will be “hosted” automatically. A host provides that which can be your ISP, domain registrar or any other hosting service.

    Comment by Desmond — 8 January 2009 @ 2:26 am

  4. Fair call, Desmond.

    To be clear – someone needs to host your email. Typically that’s your ISP, and you will have an address like me@isp.co.nz, or sometimes they will let you use your own domain (check the cost!).

    There are alternatives, though. If you use a commercial web host they will probably provide hosted as part fo the package. Also, there are free and commercial email hosts out there – Gmail is the most popular free host, and it is possible to connect your own domain up to Gmail. I might do a post or programme about this some day. Commercial hosts include fastmail.fm.

    Colin

    Comment by colin — 11 January 2009 @ 9:20 pm

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