In the Webhost case, I use Hiway.com which has never been down in the year I've used them. AND ... they have an actual, real, support staff. I asked an email question about cgi permissions and got an answer the next day ... and ... it was not an autoresponder!
All this comes at a price. $24.95 per month but that's what I want ... a dependable site that's always on. And for that ... everything works.
In the case of ATT ...
Since I put up an AOL sucks page, I ought also give credit where it is due. Hence, a free plug for ATT.
I called their customer service number to reinstate my membership as per their instructions when I quit the service.
Unlike AOL, you can actually quit ATT on the Web. You don't have to call someone and run hurdles to get rid of them. I simply followed the clicks and ended it online. After about 20 minutes, I could no longer get connected. That's how long it took to be removed. My telephone bill statement properly reflected this fact. No hassle.When I wanted to return, that number did not have an option to reinstate (options had changed in last month or so) and I thought I would have to run some online hurdles to get it back.
But ... about two minutes after I hung up the phone from customer service, I got a real person call from their support staff who apparently monitor the service calls. They probably noted that I had quit the service in early March and deduced that I might want to reinstate ... hence, the call.
The rep said it would be no problema and I'd be up and running in 30 minutes ... and I was.
And ... he gave me a discount without any prompting from me and I now have the same service as before for $14.95 per month instead of $19.95.
This was definitely my best experience with support anywhere in 5 years of net surfing and wrestling with computers.
As for the ATT service itself ...
There are no advertisements (unlike AOL which has ads on every page - and popup ads as well). There is no home page or portal that you are taken to whether you want to go or not. There is nothing but a little disconnection window. Click there to get offline.
You get an email address (several) and some free space online for a home page (don't know how much since I haven't used it).
They continually monitor their lines to see if they are working properly and try different ones when not in good order ... so your connection speed is probably as good as you can get with a 56K modem from your location.