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Popularity does not always equate to quality when evaluating ISPs. Ironically some of the most popular (and most expensive) of the ISPs do not offer the full suite of standard ISP services. In particular, check to see if an ISP offers Usenet news access before signing any agreements; some of the popular ISPs have recently dropped Usenet support or are charging their customers extra for it. Also, if you need shell access, none of the most popular nationwide ISPs currently have it as an option. Some of the most popular ISPs also have bad records for ISP security. Don't just believe their paid advertisements -- read people's reviews about them online.