IT HAS TAKEN almost twelve months, to the day, but - eureka! - I have found an Internet service that is not only user-friendly but which will suit even the most penurious OU pocket.
It is called Hotspace and, in a deal designed exclusively for readers of Open Eye, it comes in at only pounds 1 a month, for full e-mail andworld- wide web access. That pound gives you one hour per month on-line - sufficient for many people to fulfil all their e-mail requirements.
Thereafter it costs only a penny a minute. But the bottom line is that the most you will pay is pounds 6.50 per month. That's the absolute maximum: unlimited internet access for pounds 6.50, and the - minimum charge pounds per month. Prices are exclusive of Vat and your phone call charges). Included in the deal are five free e-mail addresses, so all the family can use the service for the one fee, and you can also use it for business if you wish.
Opening it connects you directly with the OU's alumni association website, www.openlink.org for up-to-date news. And there's also 5Mb of webspace so that you can create your own personal web site.
What makes this system special is that instead of working through one, less-than-perfect, provider, it operates by bringing the best players into action to furnish the parts of an Internet operation that they do best:
ICL provides the hardware and software;
Softbank runs the helpline;
Yahoo is the search engine;
Cisco provides the routing;
Cable and Wireless is the line provider.
There is local-dial access from anywhere in the UK, plus "global roaming", which additionally provides local connections almost anywhere in the world.
I do not believe that any other service offers this level of access, service and expertise at anything like this price. And, although costs have obviously been pared down to the absolute minimum, the OU Foundation will share in any profit that emerges.
Unlike so-called "free" Internet service providers, with premium-rate help-lines, Hotspace offers a 24-hour helpline at standard national rates. Nor do you need to call the helpline to start it - simply feed the disk into your CD drive and follow the on-screen instructions. To order it, just ring 0870 6070797 and quote OU Link.
For installation, you need a PC running Microsoft Windows 3.1, 95, or NT4, a CD drive, and a modem connected to a telephone line.
The minimum system requirements for the PC are a 486 DX2 processor, 16Mb of RAM, 33Mb (48Mb during installation) free hard disk space of which 25Mb (38Mb during installation) is required on your C-drive for Microsoft Internet Explorer TM4.
Downloading and registration for Apple Macintosh users can be carried out over the phone.
When ordering the OU Hotspace special package, please allow 21 days for delivery.
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