[Part 6 of 7]
Establishing an Internet Account
Once you decide on which type of Internet connection to share on your local network, you're ready to establish an Internet account with an ISP. The type of connection is just one of many details you need to consider when comparing accounts offered by various ISPs. Let's take a look at the following issues that come up when you share an Internet account on a local network:
You don't need a separate Internet account for each computer on your network. One account and one connection will do.
You may run into an ISP that insists that you need a separate account for each computer or one account with a separate connection for each computer. If you encounter an ISP that insists on this, forget that ISP and talk to others.
The one Internet connection that you are going to share on your network must have a unique public IP address that's different from all other IP addresses on the Internet. Your ISP provides this address, which you will use for your entire local network. The hardware or software gateway that you install enables all the computers on your network to use the same public IP address simultaneously.
Private IP addresses
The individual computers on your network use the public IP address only for Internet communications. To communicate with the local network, each computer uses the private IP address it was assigned when you set up its network software.
Private IP addresses can't be used on the Internet because they are taken from a range of IP addresses officially designated for private networks.
Although you need only one public IP address for your entire network, you may decide to spend more for an Internet account that bundles multiple IP addresses with other features. You could replace each computer's private IP address with a permanent, public IP address from the group provided by your ISP. You might want to go this route if you wanted Internet users to find your computers, as you might if you were hosting your own Web server.
Although you need only one Internet account, one connection, and one public IP address for your entire network, everyone who sends and receives email via the Internet will want a separate email address. Most ISPs will add email addresses to your account for a small monthly fee. This is far less expensive than paying for an entirely separate account for each networked computer.