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The location of the ISP is not always a major cost in phone dialing, as long as they are in the same regional area. If the closest one is 20km away, they really don't have a choice, other than using a modem and dialing in. There may be the possibility that they can acquire Internet access through their local cable company, then phone charges wouldn't apply and the location of the ISP is moot ? they would just pay the monthly cable access charge. I don't know what it is in their area, but in the NY area it is typically $50.00 monthly. If they don't have the ability to get online cable service, the only other alternative for them to consider is DSL through a satellite TV company such as DirectTV.
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