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Dial-Up FAQ

What is the difference between Shell access and PPP access?
Does the Shell let me use TCP/IP for things like Netscape and mIRC?

Shell means you dial into our computer and instruct our computer to do things. PPP means TCP/IP, which means you dial into our router to the Internet, and your computer does the work. You need TCP/IP to take advantage of the graphical part of the Internet, such as Netscape. The Shell is text-based.

Does your service work with Macs? Do you have a News server, Shell Server, POP3 and SMTP, and offer free web space?


I need a service that works with Japanese JIS coding so I can Send/Receive Email and files in Japanese and see WWW pages in Japanese. I have Macintosh with the Japanese extension. Could I satisfy my needs with your service?

Yes, it seems to work fine, although it's normal for a few characters to be messed up due to errors caused by conversions back and forth between JIS and Shift-JIS encoding. Note that regardless of the encoding method and the text in the body of the message, the Address and Subject lines of Internet mail should be kept to single-byte ASCII characters.

I am interested in switching to WCO for a Personal account.
Is there any way I can try your service before signing up?

Sorry, no free trials here. 98% of our new customers stay with us for a long time. And, of those who leave us for another ISP, many quickly return!

I paid a signup fee to join WCO, then I quit to go to another ISP, and now I want to come back. Do I need to pay another signup fee?

This depends on how soon you rejoin, and how much tech support you require.
If you join WCO again within 30 days and you do not require tech support, there is no signup fee.
If you sign up again after 30 days, and you require little or no tech support, your signup fee will be 4/7 of our normal signup fee. (E.g., you would pay $20 instead of $35 for a signup fee.)
If you come back and require significant technical support, the full signup fee will be charged.

What is the signup fee for?

To buy modems and phone lines, pay for tech support, our 800 number, and to continuously upgrade our service.

What kind of reward do you offer for referrals?

We've tried it, and it always worked out to be too complicated, so we no longer offer any kickbacks or deals for referrals. Most of our customers come by word-of-mouth, usually by friends referring friends.

Do you bill monthly or only by credit cards?

We can send invoices every 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, or 12 months, and we also take most charge cards.

I live in San Francisco and use your local access number there.
Can you set me up on all your Points Of Presence, so that when I travel,
I can use any of your access phone numbers?

Every WCO customer can access our service through any of our local numbers or telnet to our service from anywhere.

Is it possible to get mail from my account at WCO from another computer (connected to a different ISP) on the Internet?

Yes, you can telnet into shell.wco.com from any other terminal on the Internet and read your mail. Just enter your login name and password.

Do you offer SLIP?

We don't recommend it (PPP is better), but we do offer it if you need it.

Do you offer UUCP?

Sorry we don't offer that, we specialize in 'live' connections.

Do you offer Static IP numbers?

Our full-time connection customers are issued up to six routed IP addresses depending upon their needs. Part-time dialup customers connect dynamically, meaning you get a different IP address each time you call. A static IP address can be issued for any account on request. There is a $5 per month charge for this service for personal dialup accounts. There is no additional charge for this service for Business accounts ($45 and up)

I want to use my modem to connect to your system 24 hours a day to make my BBS telnetable. How much does it cost? Would this connection allow my callers to access the Internet? Would 2-3 users be able to use it at the same time? Can I import newsgroups, email, and file transfers?

For a 14.4K continuous connection, our startup fee is $300. For a 28.8 continuous connection, the startup fee is $400. These startup fees cover our side buying a modem, installing a phone line, and dedicating a port for your use. You get 1 (more if you need them) static IP number, and can stay connected all the time. You get half the startup fee back when you upgrade or leave. This solution is best for those having flat-rate unlimited phone service. The 14.4K solution is $90 a month, the 28.8K is $125 each month.

You can do anything -- if your BBS software lets you. Make sure your software has an automatic dial-back system to reconnect after a modem glitch, or if your system reboots. This type of service is not sufficient to give PPP access to your BBS callers; but email, news, ftp, telnet, are the same as if you had a 56K hard-wired link. Of course, your can't have a bunch of users sharing a 14.4 or 28.8 line if they are all downloading giant files. For a 'chat' system, a 14.4 line could support about 5 users before things became too slow. For a downloading-intensive BBS, a 28.8 connection can support about 4 callers at a time before things become too slow.

I'm interested in your 'Small Business Account'. Will there be a problem if the extra sorted names try to retrieve their mail at the same time?

By definition, our business accounts (with extra email-only accounts), use a maximum of 1 modem at a time, to log into our system. This would prevent 2 people getting their email at once. On your Network, if one PC logged in and downloaded the mail for all users at your location, your software would probably handle 2 simultaneous accesses to the email pool.

Do you have an idle time out, and if so, how long is it set for?

It's set for about 20 minutes of inactivity.
I have a small business account with you. I am in the business of designing web pages for people and want to use your system for my client's web pages. I want to have my clients listed as www.their_company.com. Can I do this, and can I get the domain registrations and web pages hosted at a discount, in exchange for all the accounts I'm bringing you?
You can do this, but we can't offer any discounts, as each of your customers will use our resources. For each domain, you must pay our standard processing fee ($40), and get a dialup account (with our virtual domain web page option) for each of your domain-named web page customers. The real value you can offer your clients is designing and maintaining their web pages - not hosting them.

What kind of computers does WCO use on it's system?

Our servers are primarily Sun Sparcstations running Solaris (System 5 Release 4), and a few Pentium systems. We'll soon be adding a Sun UltraSparc to our existing array of Sparc Servers.

Do you have 28.8 access to Petaluma? In San Jose?

Most of our Petaluma modems are 28.8, but we still have a few 14.4 modems there too. We're moving closer to all 28.8's all the time. San Mateo to San Jose to Fremont is already all 28.8.

How often can I expect busy signals?

It comes and goes in waves - Busies make us buy more modems! We keep on top of it and buy modems and phone lines every week. The goal is no more than 5 minutes of busy signals for any customer at peak usage times.

What kind of link do you have to the Internet?

We have a fast, uncongested link to the Net. We have a dedicated T3 to the MAE-West peering point, and transit connections via MCI and Sprint.

Is WCO's system safe for children? What steps have you taken to keep children protected from pornography on the Internet?

1) WCO is generally for adults only. You must be 18 to sign up with WCO, unless your parents provide a verified signature authorizing underage usage.

2) WCO depends on parents to monitor their own kids. If you want to let your kids browse the Net, and are worried about them being exposed to sexually explicit material, buy a copy of SurfWatch or similar protection software.

Can I just get a Shell account, and run a PPP/SLIP emulator like Slirp or TIA?

Our Unix Shell server is designed to perform exactly as that - a Unix *Shell* server. Such emulators aren't fair to customers who pay for PPP access, and also are not fair to Shell customers because they consume memory and CPU resources from our other Shell customers. We've invested in the hardware necessary to provide SLIP and PPP the right way. If you want to run SLIP or PPP, please open a SLIP/PPP account.

I need a login name longer than 8 characters. Can I get that at WCO?

Very few real Unix systems allow login names longer than 8 characters. If you really need a login name longer than that, we can offer you a mail alias for a one-time charge of $10. Your login name at WCO will be something 8 characters or less, but to the outside world, you can give a longer email name, and it will appear as your actual email name.

Can I sign up by email or over the phone?

No, we need a simple one-page signup form filled out and returned to us by fax or snail-mail. Contact us (800-926-4683) and we'll fax or mail you a form right away. You can also get signup forms and more from our faxback service at 888-492-6329 (Call from a fax machine or with fax software.)

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