And now for a word about e-mail.  Especially for smaller organizations that may be using their ISP for their email  as well.

In our 16 year history of Kessler Freedman, Inc., we’ve used many ISPs for internet connectivity, and had the option of using the same ISPs for email gateway service. Those ISPs include the old epix.net, Earthlink, Comcast, Verizon, and a few others. And if there’s one thing I’d like to say about ISP email, it’s this:

Don’t rely on it to receive everything.

ISPs are in the business of getting people online – to the Internet. It’s a pipeline, and everything else – email service, customer gateway, help desk – are features to make them more competitive in making more money. Sometimes competitiveness is about improving things to increase value. Sometimes it’s about decreasing cost. Sometimes it’s both.

And in the case of email through ISPs, I don’t think you’re getting enough of any of that.

ISPs are pretty much stuck with providing email service at this point. Commercial consumer internet service started with it, it is a huge piece of how people use the Internet, and it’s a headache. Spam, viruses, email settings – lots of effort by ISPs to deal with headaches that haven’t really gotten much better from their standpoint as far as volume is concerned. And nobody – NOBODY – picks an ISP because of email. So what competitive value is there to ISPs on email? Simple: just don’t kill the product with too terrible of email service provision.

I used Comcast for years for connectivity. I tested their email off and on, just to test. In their effort to reduce spam, they kept LOTS of legitimate email from being received by me via Comcast. It was borderline ridiculous – invoices, newsletters, CC replies – blocked by spamfilter software, and there was no way I could get it through Comcast. Since we run our email through our own domain, we received it elsewhere as well, which is how we knew how much wasn’t getting through. And in our business, missed legitimate email is a much higher potential cost than wafting through spam. We couldn’t accept the Comcast email risk, and never used it – and would not recommend that any business rely on their email.

Or any other ISP for that matter, because there are better options out there.

Short of having your own mailserver, I don’t understand why even more folks don’t use GMail, I’ve used it for years and it’s great. For individuals there’s a free version, it’s easy to set up, has webmail options, etc. To be honest, I don’t know why the big ISPs still try to run their own email when they would seem to be better off farming it out to Google – or at least their own customers would be better off.

There are other free options of email – Yahoo, Hotmail is still around, etc. As an email user, I would be looking for a service that provides the following:

1) The ability to use my computer’s email software to send and receive email, the ability to see email received online and to send through the web browser, and the ability to access email easily through a mobile app – easily.

2) The ability to look through the email that has been sent to you and defined by your receiving mailserver as possible spam. Even better – the ability to search through it. No spamfilter is perfect. I check my gmail spamfilter folder every few days to see if legitimate email has been trapped, and if so, I move it to my inbox and Gmail’s software tries to learn not to treat that sender as spam in the future. This is preferred. Not getting email that you need can be far worse than getting email you do not want.

3) The ability to customize your sending or return email address.

For me, Gmail does this just fine. The national ISPs? Not well enough.