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Report: IBM best Internet provider, AOL worst

Internet rankings December 3, 1997
Web posted at: 10:07 p.m. EST (0307 GMT)

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- America Online Inc. may be the world's biggest online service, but its problems with "spam" and poor support services make it the worst national Internet service provider, according to PC World magazine.

AOL ranked last among the 12 national companies that offer customers access to the Internet, according to a report in PC World's January 1998 issue.

International Business Machines Corp.'s IBM Internet Connection ranked as the best overall, and Concentric Network Corp. was second, the report said.

The publication said it tested the services on criteria such as ease of connecting during peak evening hours, connecting speed, delivering and receiving e-mail on time and online help. It also solicited input from 6,000 users of its PC World Online site.

The better providers offered fast access, solid support services, ease when setting up software and modems that allowed connections at 56-kilobits per second.

Though AOL is rich with content, easy to use and supports 56K modems, it is "a Web surfer's nightmare," the report said.

AOL's connections are slow due to high call volume, and the system is rife with advertisements and "spam" -- e-mail messages that are the electronic equivalent of junk mail.

An AOL spokeswoman declined to comment on the survey, noting that she had not read the report.

AOL has about 10 million subscribers worldwide, nearly four times that of its nearest competitors.

The third best service was offered by EarthLink Network Inc., the report said, followed by MindSpring Enterprises Inc., Sprint Corp.'s Sprint Internet Passport and AT&T Corp.'s AT&T Worldnet.

Rounding out the 12 ranked services were CompuServe Corp., Prodigy Internet, MCI Communications Corp.'s MCI Internet, Microsoft Corp.'s Microsoft Network, Netcom On-Line Communications Inc. and AOL.

PC World, which is published by a unit of International Data Group, also said that many consumers may be best served by local and regional providers, who often offer lower fees, better service and more reliable connections to the Internet.

Copyright 1997 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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