How to get internet access
The internet has become an important part of our every day lives. Many people regularly use it to access information, to communicate through emails, and to complete transactions.
Free internet access at local libraries
All local and mobile libraries now have computers with free internet access - you can book half hour or hourly sessions. Contact your local library for more information about this free service. Use the following link to get contact details for your local library or to book a computer session via the Northern Ireland Libraries website.
Helping someone get started online
Many people are still missing out on the benefits of the internet – because they lack the know-how or the confidence, or simply because they don't have access to a computer or an internet connection.
If you have a friend or family member who needs support getting started with the internet, follow the link below.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
If you would like to access the internet at home, you'll need an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and a modem to connect to the ISP. ISPs often provide a device called a router to let you share an internet connection over a local area network. This means more than one computer in your house can use the broadband connection at the same time. The devices are connected with cables and a hub or switch.
You might find it helpful to get recommendations from a trustworthy source, or from friends who have an ISP. If you are going to look for the ISP on your own, try to get as much information as you can about what they offer.
Tips on choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP)
Checking your equipment
Make sure you have the right computer and software to work with any chosen ISP as some ISPs require specific browsers and some services don't work with AppleMac hardware and software. Also, to get some connection speeds you'll need a specific modem.
What the ISP offers you
Find out what your ISP offers and decide what you actually need. Consider how long you expect to be online, the size of the files you will be transferring and when you are most likely to be online. It is not recommended to select an ISP by price alone.
'Metered' access gives you access to the internet on a 'pay as you go' basis and might also include a monthly fee. Generally metered internet access is at local call rates and you may get some free hours each month.
Connecting to the internet during the day can be more expensive than at evenings and weekends. Consider an 'unmetered' tariff if you will be going online a lot during the daytime. Monthly subscriptions for 'unmetered' tariffs also mean you don't need to worry about telephone bills for the time you are online.
If you want to use the phone whilst you are online, you can choose a broadband connection or get a second line installed specifically for internet access. A broadband connection lets you be online all day, get instant emails, surf the internet much faster, exchange large files and can provide a connection for several computers.
Building your own website
If you are thinking of building your own website, choose an ISP that offers hosting space as part of the package.
Find out what technical support is available and how much the ISP charges for this service. Ask what the ISP does to prevent or manage system failures.