Q: I’ve been using many different free Internet service providers, but it seems that more and more free Mac ISPs are either closing their services or dropping support for Macintosh users. I still want free Internet access for my Mac, but I can’t find it anywhere. Are there any more free Internet access services left for Macintosh users? If so, where?
A: Yes, it does seem that every day another free ISP closes its doors to Mac users. First there was Net Zero, then Freei.net, and many, many others are closing by the day.
Are there still some left? The answer is yes. (At the time of this writing in early 2001, of course.) However, with free Internet lately, your choices are fairly limited and not 100% reliable.
The first free Internet access provider is an older one, called BlueLight, which is brought to you by Kmart. One of its upsides is the fact that you’re presented with many different access numbers to choose from, so you’re likely to find an local access number. However, this service does have some down sides. For instance, Mac users are only allowed to use the service 25 hours a month, which for some people isn’t too big of a problem.
Update: BlueLight was acquired by NetZero when Kmart went through bankruptcy in 2006. Is now a $9.95/month service and continues to provide support to Mac users.
If you’re one of those people who only go online occasionally – which is the larger percentage of the people who want free Internet access anyway – this is just fine. But if you want to use the Internet more than 25 hours a month or actually want 100% reliable service, then it’s probably best to go with a low-cost pay service.
Is BlueLight the only Mac-able (yeah, I know it’s not a word, but just play along) ISP out there?
The answer is no, provided you live in a selected area or don’t mind paying largely huge long distance bills. One of the best free ISPs out there is called No-Charge. It’s not as well known as other Mac ISPs out there – or that used to be out there – because it has access numbers pretty much for only for major cities in the North-Eastern Coast of the US. But for people in these areas, it’s still good, since it’s fairly fast and doesn’t have ads.
Update: As of April 2014, No-Charge is still operating and still supporting Macs with modems and PPP.
In the end, it seems like free Mac ISPs are becoming more of an endangered species every day, and it looks like we’ll just have to see if more close down or more start up. But it looks like even the remaining few we have won’t be around too much longer.
Short link: http://goo.gl/gkFIW7