The Cutting Edge: Computing / Technology / Innovation : POSTCARDS FROM CYBERSPACE : Easy, Cheap Internet Access

If you need access to Internet resources but don't want to pay the $20 or so a month that most commercial providers charge, you might consider a local Freenet.

Freenets operate like large computer bulletin boards, providing access to information resources and offering e-mail. Currently there are 15 Freenets in the United States.

In the Los Angeles area, the local Freenet is based in Encino. You can enter some areas of the system for free. But a $10 annual fee is required if you want to send and receive e-mail through the Internet, post messages, use the chat area or access enhanced features.

One of the main goals of Freenets is to provide a user-friendly interface to popular Internet services. The L.A. Freenet uses a series of menus to help you select the data you want and provides access to a vast array of resources, covering everything from aikido dojos to mountain climbing.

To access the L.A. Freenet, set your modem software to 8 bits, no parity and 1 stop bit--the standard settings for reaching a BBS--and have your computer dial (818) 776-5000. For further information, you can call L.A. Freenet at (818) 954-0080.

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