Web Watch – Hawaii’s Internet Service Provider Web Sites

There is nothing tougher (aside from grandma’s holiday pound cake) than trying to select an Internet Service Provider here in Hawaii. With over 20 local ISPs on Oahu alone, as well as a constantly changing rate and price package standard across the board, the market could get as confusing as your VCR.

So what do you do? Pay a personal visit to each provider’s “office”? Call them up, one by one with your questions about TCP/IP connectivity? No, of course not! You go to a friend’s house, local Internet cafe, et al, and punch up their representative World Wide Web site for the latest and greatest information on why you should be choosing their service over the other providers.

What you should be looking for depends on your computer use and experience. It could range from a strictly price standpoint (who has the cheapest monthly rates) to a performance one. You may also want to know how the ISP’s technical support is and/or what other services is included in the plan. Most of the web sites provide this information in plain English. No stuffy office, no telephone horror. Just you and your mouse.

Let’s get cracking on some of the more prevalent Internet Service Provider’s home pages and some of the more interesting things you can find there.

Perhaps the most successful web site originally branching from an ISP is Planet Hawaii (http://www.planet-hawaii.com/), a concoction of local provider GST Hawaii OnLine. This web site, complete with flower prints, rubber slippers and an Aloha shirt gives you the real feel of being in Hawaii. In addition to the Planet Hawaii site (whose current features includes stories on legendary surfer Eddie Aikau, local superchefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong and a 16-part Real Audio special on King Kamehameha), the HOL web site has in-depth help pages/files and an online signup form under “Subscriber Services” and company history, employment opportunities and contact information under “Inside Hawaii OnLine.”

LavaNet’s web site won’t win any design awards, but it is by far, the most complete. Partitioned into 4 main categories: “Services and Rates,” “Technical Support,” “The LavaNet Web” and “About LavaNet,” you are sure to find the answer to any of your burning Internet-related questions. And if you don’t, LavaNet invites you to “Ask Lavadude” (ask-lavadude@lava.net). For those gamers out there, they also have a dedicated Quake Server (volcano.lava.net) and online instructions on how to set things up.

Pacific Information eXchange, Inc.’s web site is also a thorough one with online tech support, services and announcements sections, among others. It also provides links to numerous online sources covering many topics, helping to bring the vast Internet quickly and easily to you. You can even sign up online using their secure form.

With a slightly different approach with their web presence than the other providers, Oceanic Internet uses the successful infrastructure of providing a sense of community for the visitors for their new Road Runner cable modem service web presence. This site provides links to local information in categories such as “Sports & Recreation,” “Arts & Entertainment,” “Food & Dining,” and “Finance/Business.” One of the more popular sections on the Road Runner site is the site called “Streaming Media,” which features streaming audio and video files optimized for speedy cable connections. If that’s not enough, a Quake server has also just been implemented and is ready for use.

Maui Net also seems to take the content approach seriously. If you do not know, or do not look hard enough, you probably can’t even tell that this page is one from an ISP. With heavy emphasis on a “What’s on Maui” section, complete with an information booth, Maui accommodations information, marketplace and Maui Real Estate sections, among others, this web site places it’s focus on the page as a service, not a utility. Maui Net also provides online signup over a secure server.

From the Big Island, Inter-Pacific Networks’ web site is beaming with the “Aloha” spirit. Complete with a clock showing local time, this site seems to welcome you with a maile lei and a smile. There is a “Virtual Village,” online guestbook, info & services section as well as user help desk.

There is an abundant number of other web sites to sift through in order to find what you are looking for, but to help you out, http://islestyle.com/isps/ has developed a breakdown of most of the local providers, as well as national providers servicing the Hawaiian Islands.

And remember, not choosing an Internet Service Provider carefully is like a box of chocolates…

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