As I sit here at my computer I think about the good times I've had using Nationwide's ISP. Always reliable, I've never had a problem connecting to this service. Compared to other ISP's I've tried (and believe me, theres been a few) this rates highly. The homepage was always useful serving not only the banking side of the company but the ISP too. Technical Support pages were most helpful if you needed to use them with step by step instructions on how to set up everything you need to get on the net, click one button and it'd set up Outlook for you with all your mail settings. For a free ISP this offered a much better connection speed than the others, a short e-mail address (no hundreds of subdomains littered with numbers because someone's already taken the one you wanted) and good newsgroup access. I'm certainly going to miss it when it closes, and despite the promises that BT is going to be better for us customers - I've yet to see anything like the service. Good-Bye NationwideISP, it's been good knowing you.
Nationwide's ISP department have just writen to me saying that they merging themselves with BTinternet in order to offer "an array of additional benefits". Beleive that and you'll beleive anything. Having tried Nationwide's ISP, I can only asume that, due to it being not upto scratch, Nationwide are cutting their losses and are "selling" it's customers to BTinternet, offering a bribe of "three complimentary CD's" if the customer switches. Being BT, there is bound to be a catch and the CD's themselves are proberably the sort you get on magazine covers (either time limited, shareware or don't work. Nationwide's ISP was unreliable when I tried it a while back, connections could not be sustained for any length of time. Whilst not 100% reliable itself (what can be!) Internet Explorer isn't bad but whatever the techs used to compile the Nationwide software must'nt have tested it at all. I've come across better quality "beta" grade software than this. At least it'll be no more. As Anne Robinson rants "you are the weakest link - goodbye". A perfect quote.
Nationwide's ISP is rather like their financial service provision - unreliable. Around a year ago (early spring 2000), I signed up to their ISP as I was informed by a staff member that this would enable me to access their online bankinag facility. Due to the ISP market at the time being (more or less) 0845 dial up's, at least I would have something a little extra usefulness. I should have known better than with Nationwide. Firstly, the software disk was corrupted and could not be used, resulting in a lot of work removing the software (most of these so-called free ISP's purposefully have the uninstall feature disabled, which is naughty). As I picked up two disks (a wise move), I got online with them albeit briefly as during the sign up process, a number of those java error message pages appeared in my browser. Typical, really.
If, like me you surf the net quite a lot (over 20 hrs/week). You will probably use ono of the cheap unmetered ISPs. I use RedHotAnt (RHA) and suffer the conseqences of an unreliable service to which you cannot be sure of a connection. I have used the Nationwide ISP service as a back-up for about 9 months now, so that I can connect to the net or get my emails even when I can't use RHA. I have always found the Nationwide service to be very reliable. I have also made the dial-up number my "best friend" under BTs Friend & Family package which reduces the online costs a bit when I do have to use this service. I have only needed to contact the helpline once and found them to be easy to get hold of and very helpful. In summary, whilst I would not use Nationwide as a primary ISP because of the online costs. I find they are a very reliable backup and will continue to use them in this way. Postscript: Since writing this opinion I have been informed by Nationwide ISP that the service will switch to BT Internet with effect from 10 January 2001. There are 3 options available for former Nationwide ISP customers and they are offering 3 complimentary CDs if you make the switch. I'll give it a whirl and write another opinion after I try it out!
When I bought my PC, I signed up with a pay-per-month ISP. This provider shall remain nameless, but after numerous engaged tones, dropped lines and a successful usage rate of about 50%, I switched to a lesser known ISP. You wouldn't associate Nationwide with the ISP market, but the free CD dropped through my door, and in my unconnected state, I thought I'd give it a try. I have been using it for just over a year and can report no engaged tones - none at all - and no dropped calls. I check my email everyday, and probably spend about 4-5 hours a week surfing. This is my ringing endorsement for the Nationwide ISP. Yes, you may end up with 'Nationwide' in your email address, but for guaranteed connection with no monthly charge, it's a winner. I think it's a great starting point for new users to the web. I also changed my default starting page to Yahoo, so you would never know you are using an ISP from a Builing Society.... I've never used the Technical Support which is 50p per minute( I've had no problems !) but a friend says they were most helpful. Finally, I don't even keep my money with Nationwide. How's that for no-strings attached internet connection ?
Nationwide have been at the forefront of the market in offering Internet banking (regular accounst accessible online and compatible with MS money) but as far as ISPs goes this is "yet another Free ISP." In fact, when they first offered it, they charged a few pounds a month but quickly dropped that. As free accounts go, it offers you quality surfing and e-mail. Tomy mind, the main question is: do you want NATIONWIDE as part of your e-mail address or something more neutral/personal. It should be noted that you DON'T need an account with the Nationwide ISP in oredr to use their online banking. ANd, if you do use their online banking you can send and received confidential e-mail with Nationwide within the banking site.