High Speed Internet: How to Choose your Internet Service Provider?
It seems that nowadays you cannot be without the internet. Work, leisure, and even social circles rely heavily on a good internet connection—so it sure does make sense to ask “What makes a high-speed internet service provider the best choice?” and “What Factors do I consider before making my choice?” These are two simply straightforward questions with less-than-straightforward answers.
Of course, internet speed matters, which also differs based on where you live. Moreover, your internet speed requirements also vary and depends on how you use the internet. And with so many options, choosing an Internet Service Provider can be a daunting task.
But if you’re like most of us and you use the internet for just about everything, then understanding what to consider can help you make the right decision. Here’s what you need to know:
The Types of High-Speed Internet Service Providers
There are a number of high-speed internet service providers. Their services, however, do become available according to the area, different areas have different services.
Now before we get into the details, remember that you will come across the term “broadband” quite often. Generally, this term is used for any internet service that is faster than a dial-up internet connection (and we’re not discussing them since they have fallen into disuse in the USA).
The other important thing to mention is “Mbps”. This is the speed defining the term that is used by most internet service providers. For our home web purposes, a 2 Mbps speed is sufficient that fulfills all the basic needs.
However, for activities like video streaming and more downloads, you will need something faster. Netflix’s speed requirement guide is quite helpful:
- 0.5 Megabits/sec – Required broadband connection speed
- 1.5 Megabits/sec – Recommended broadband connection sped
- 3.0 Megabits/sec – Recommended speed for DVD quality
- 5.0 Megabits/sec – Recommended speed for HD quality
- 7.0 Megabits/sec – Recommended speed for Super HD quality
Although a majority of the homes need 5 Mbps of high-speed internet connection. This is good for 1 to 2 people in the house – for more – a higher speed should be considered.
As for the types of available Internet Services, we all know the famous names and their workings:
• DSL – Connects through the home phone line and comes at different speeds; 25 Mbps to 100 Mbps. It does, however, depend a lot on the distance (the further you are from the service provider, the slower is your connection).
• Cable Internet – The internet service that uses cable service. Generally, you will see higher speeds from Cable service providers as compared to DSL. It goes up to 100 Mbps as well. Since this service is shared, it becomes slower during busy times.
• Satellite Internet – Internet service via satellite. Compared to both the services mentioned above, satellite service is pretty slow and usually sticking below 20 Mbps. With satellite service, you experience small hiccups at different intervals, which are even noticeable. If you live in a highly rural area, a satellite is probably your only option for broadband service.
• Fiber-Optic Internet – Also known as FIOS – is available in a number of areas only. But is also rolling out rapidly. FIOS has the ability to offer even a speed of 500 Mbps and is even becoming better.
Now, to summarize the list mentioned above, choose FIOS or DSL for your home internet usage. In case you don’t find them available in your location, you will look for cable service. Your last option will be the satellite.
What Internet Service You Can Get at Your House?
Now that you know the different types that are available, the next obvious question is “What can you get at home?”
Your stops and considerations should fall on; websites, customer reviews, friends, and family.
We have, however, one general piece of advice for your search: give preference to local companies and cooperatives. If you have a local phone company or service provider, strongly consider going with them first as they will be far more available and reliable in terms of service simply because they’re present in your community. You’ll have to judge for yourself whether their prices are truly competitive, but if they’re close, they should get the nod.
Anyway, once you’ve got a list of potential providers in your area, it’s time to shop around.
Shop For The Fastest Internet Service Provider
When you start comparing offers between high-speed internet providers, you’re going to be hit with a lot of different factors. Here are some of the things that service providers are going to be talking about.
Remember that you’re only gathering information at this point. It’s a good idea to call each provider and have a piece of paper in front of you to list this information on concerning each provider you call. Don’t sign up for anything before contacting other providers.
Speed – Most of them will want to tell you about the speeds they offer. You’re going to want to mostly be concerned with the download speed unless you’re planning on doing a great deal of Youtube video uploading. Another thing worth noting is whether this speed is offered over cable or over DSL/fiber because cable speeds tend to vary a lot depending on the time of day.
As always, it’s impossible to tell precisely how fast the speed will be at your home, but generally the further you are from their offices (or their nearest equipment station), the slower it will be. Ask them how far away you are from their central office (CO) in your area. If they’re much farther away than a comparable service, lean toward the closer one.
Data caps– Does the company put a monthly “cap” on how much data you can download? Some services do, and this is generally negative. This is more important if you’re a frequent Netflix or Youtube user, as non-video web surfing and email will generally never approach such a cap.
Additional costs -Some companies require you to rent a modem or a router from them, while other providers will just give you this equipment. This is often a hidden cost that they don’t want to tell you up front in their price, so ask them before you sign anything.
Introductory deals -Is the price they’re telling you about on the phone an introductory price? If it is, when will it adjust and by how much? You should use the “regular” price for comparisons and only use the “introductory” price if you’re breaking a tie.
Bundling- If you already use this company for home phone service, cable service, or satellite service, you may get a better rate by bundling services. You may also want to consider moving your other services as a bundle. If you get cable or satellite television and if you have home phone service, ask about their prices including those features as a bundle.
Add-ons – Some ISPs will try to sell you add-ons such as antivirus software and firewalls. Don’t pay for these, at least not directly from them. If you’re running a PC that’s older than Windows 8, you should just download and use Microsoft Security Essentials or Avast Free Antivirus (We won’t get into the debate about which is better, but both are free and both are lauded by various groups), as they’ll provide good basic protection. While antivirus and spyware protection is a good idea, you don’t need to pay for any additional software as a bundle from your internet service provider.
The following two categories are things you’ll have to research a bit on your own.
Customer service: This is very hard to judge because when you’re out there looking at customer service reviews, you’re generally only hearing the negative stories and not the positive ones.
The “local” Factor: Every community is different. The cables on the ground are different. The local offerings are different. The distance from customer support and from the local office are different. The people working there are different. The specific local companies are different, too, and not included in the surveys mentioned above.
We consider asking around for suggestions and recommendations in your community to be essential. Ask all of your friends and neighbors what they use for internet service, whether they like it, and whether they’ve had any problems with it. Ideally, you want to hear stories about a variety of providers and those stories will generally tell you what you need to know.
Final Verdict – Making Your Final ISP Choice
The points listed above will not help you narrow down your list of internet providers to choose from, but it also helps you understand that you won’t go wrong with your choice at the end. For the final decision, here’s how to decide:
- If you’re considering a local company, understand if it’s actually local. Most top telecommunication companies will not be able to provide the service that your local town company can, so if you have a small local service outlying in your area, you should strongly accept it.
- While considering a cable option versus a DSL option? Go with the DSL or the fiber. Cable will frustrate you with the widely varying speeds.
- What’s the price per Mbps? This should include all of the additional monthly costs, including any equipment rental. Write down what they’re advertising for their speed and for that total cost, then divide the cost by the speed. That’s your cost per Mbps, and it’s the number you should use for comparisons if all of the factors above still haven’t decided this for you.
Ideally, you’re left with one choice here – the right choice for your high-speed internet service provider in your location. Good luck!