USENET is a system that is accessible over your ISP, but it’s not the same service as the Internet. If you’re wondering why you have to pay for USENET services as opposed to, for example, getting free access to forums on the Internet, read on to learn how this system works and why it’s now almost always a subscription-based service.
The USENET System
USENET has a sort of parallel existence with your regular Internet service. It’s not an underground or-more appropriately-Undernet service. USENET is simply different. USENET newsgroups are propagated by a system of decentralized servers that have complete control over what content they carry. These servers usually carry content specific to their readership. A server in New Jersey, for instance, will most certainly carry newsgroups that are specific to the cities in that state, but a server in Wisconsin will likely carry none of those groups.
You subscribe to newsgroups by selecting them in your newsreader. You can subscribe to as many as you want, but it’s unlike the Internet in that there’s more to joining a newsgroup than there is to, for example, navigating to an Internet forum.
In the past, most ISPs offered access to the USENET system through their services. This isn’t the case anymore. At the same time that ISPs have stopped offering this service, there has been a lot of interest in the service and how it works. This has made it profitable for companies to start offering subscription services. There are some significant advantages to getting to the USENET system in this fashion that bear mentioning.
Subscription Can Be Better
When the ISPs were providing USENET access, it tended to be a second-rate service in terms of the bandwidth they allotted to it. With the subscription services, the bandwidth is substantial and download speeds tend to be very fast. The USENET services of today also to have more useful information on them. In addition to the newsgroups and the conversations that go on in them, there are extensive binaries-the USENET term for files-available for download.
USENET has also become popular enough that the newsgroups themselves have become very diverse in terms of content. The hierarchy system makes it easy to tell which is which, so you don’t end up having to sort through ten or twenty different newsgroups to find what you want, as is oftentimes the case with Internet forums.
There are newsgroups dedicated to most every topic, so you’ll find plenty of information to explore on this service. With the subscription providers depending upon good USENET access to make a living, you can also be sure that you won’t be suffering in terms of bandwidth or other technical elements of the service. This service has a lot to offer and, today, it’s usually best served up over a subscription service. Google has an extensive collection of historic USENET posts, however, so finding information from newsgroups can be done in this fashion, as well, if you’re not ready to subscribe and participate.