Be wary of hosting websites with phone companies

We sometimes get inquiries from small business people who have been talked into registering a domain name and obtaining web site hosting through their phone provider. Without naming names, you probably have a good idea which one I’m talking about here.

Now, providing an additional service to their customers is fine, but unless you have money to throw away it always pays to compare ‘apples with apples’.

Firstly, domain name registration is handled by accredited domain registry agencies – a fee, which usually covers 2 years, is paid to the agency and that means you are the registered owner of the domain name. Period. No additional domain maintenance fees are required (there is nothing to maintain afterall!) and charging an additional fee for this is hard to justify.

The actual 2 year fee should be in the $35 to $50 range for a or domain name, but there are many companies, not just telcos, that charge double this. The phone company I’m talking about even has the gall to charge a monthly ‘management’ fee on top! The fee is justified by them as ‘providing email services for the domain’ – you’d be hard-pressed to find any good hosting company that charge their customers extra for this very basic (and included) feature of hosting accounts.

Secondly, web site hosting fees do vary considerably. You should expect to pay between $15 – $25 per month for a reasonable amount of space on quality hosting on AUSTRALIAN-BASED hosting servers. You can pay considerably less by using US-based servers – I would strongly advise against doing this and we discuss this on the Domain Names & Hosting Services page. I have seen figures as high as $40-$70 per month from telcos and other providers for little more than basic hosting plans.

How can they charge this much? The brand name is ‘trusted’ and the ‘benefit’ of paying the hosting along with the phone bill is often mentioned as the reasoning to me. Ok sure, that’s fine and if that is important to you then I don’t have a problem with it – just so long as the hosting provided is standard web hosting with all the expected included features like MySQL database support and CPanel or similar facility so the customer (or web designer) can easily add or change their hosting account features.

Please be warned – as with any contract or deal you may be offered, read the fine print and ask around before agreeing to anything.