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  5. Finding an Internet Service Provider (ISP)


Your first step as an NGO is to get access to the Internet. Getting access can be achieved in many ways, from use of telecenters and free services, to the use of cloud-based services or even the installation of servers. As long as you have some way to access the Internet, you can establish a presence for your NGO on the Internet.

The Internet reaches into one of the huts

To do so, you need to find an Internet service provider that offers Internet access service. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or web hosting companies offer basic Internet access and other services such email, website building and website hosting services so your website can be found on the Internet. These organizations typically offer these services for a monthly fee. Some service providers offer a wide variety of add-on services you can consider as your Internet presence grows.

You may find an ISP that offers Internet services at no charge. If that is the case, it is important to ask whether you are getting access to the  “open” Internet” or  a “walled garden”. If it is a walled garden, that means the service provider is only offering you access to some Internet content, but not access to to the open, global Internet. There is an adage that says that when you get a service for free, you are the product, meaning, for example, that the information they collect about you is the product they sell to others. While free service can sometimes be the right answer, an NGO should always understand the implications of their choices. The various steps contained in the NGO Toolkit will help you better evaluate your options.