Modern life lives on the internet. From talking to your loved ones, to watching TV, to finding a recipe to cook for dinner, there isn’t much that doesn’t involve going online.
When so much depends on your internet connection, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’ve contracted with the right internet service provider (ISP). Choosing your ISP should involve more than just looking for the cheapest option available in your area. You also want to make sure you have the best service and product available.
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- Here are some things you need to consider when choosing your ISP.
Here are some things you need to consider when choosing your ISP.
1. Who Delivers What You Want to Where You Are?
Before taking a close look at ISP plans and service levels, you do have to make sure you know exactly who delivers to your address and what type of internet they deliver. This may sound obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. The last thing you want is to find the perfect plan only to discover that it doesn’t deliver to your address.
There are a few free sites that tell you which providers deliver to your address. These sites aren’t always up-to-date, though, so be sure to check the ISPs’ websites as well.
Once you have a list of who delivers to you, take a look at what they offer. Cross out plans that include things you don’t need, such as landline phones, and ones that don’t offer the speed or perks you do need.
With those basics out of the way, it’s time to look at the nuts and bolts of each ISP to decide which one is best for you.
2. How Much Speed and Bandwidth Can They Provide?
Speed and bandwidth are slightly different concepts, but both will be summed up by your provider with the same number, labeled as “Mbps.” Mbps stands for “megabits per second,” and it’s a measurement of how fast you can download or upload data. How much Mbps you need primarily depends on how you use the internet, including what you do on it and how many devices you expect to be connected to the WiFi at once.
If you live alone and only use the internet for basic web browsing, you can likely get away with 25 Mbps. But if there are multiple people in your household, and if you ever do more demanding tasks like stream television, you won’t want anything lower than 50 Mbps. Larger households that need advanced WiFi connectivity should aim for at least 100 Mbps.
There are websites online where you can answer a few questions to find out how much Mbps you need. If you can afford it, try to buy a plan at the higher end of your range so you never have to worry about your internet connectivity.
3. Are They Ready for Web 3.0?
The number of things we use the internet for is growing. Thanks to smart home technology, WiFi is now needed for things like locks, thermostats, fridges, and dozens of other appliances. Some people are calling this Web 3.0, a term for an internet experience defined by distributed devices. As you modernize your home and connect your life, you want an internet network that can keep up.
This means you’ll want an internet connection that’s fast and has a large reach. Even the best ISP’s plan may need help from things like adaptive WiFi to reach every corner of a smart home. But if an internet plan is slow and weak, it’ll never be ready for Web 3.0, no matter how diligently you try to extend its range.
If you have any interest in smart home technology, take that into consideration when you select your ISP. Even if you don’t have many connected devices now, you’ll want an ISP that can grow with you as you add more.
4. What Kind of Internet Do They Offer?
There are a lot of different types of internet connections, and you’ll want to be sure you know what you’re getting. Different types of internet include:
- Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Internet: This is internet that travels to your home via landline phone networks. It’s essentially the next evolution of old dial-up internet. DSL is usually very affordable, but it’s not particularly fast or flexible.
- Satellite Internet: Satellites that orbit the earth deliver wireless internet signals to your home. Satellite can be a good choice for people who live in rural areas out of reach of wired internet, but it’s usually more expensive and a little slower than other options.
- Fixed Wireless Internet: This is a type of internet connection that delivers wireless signals from a transmitter. While it can deliver a fast and strong connection, it’s not available everywhere due to the limitations of its infrastructure.
- Cable Internet: Cable is one of the most common forms of delivering internet. It uses the same cable lines that bring cable TV to your home. While it can be a little more expensive, it delivers fast speeds and reliable connections.
- Fiber Optic Internet: A relatively new form of internet delivery, this uses fiber optic cables to carry internet to your home. Fiber is usually known for being fast and reliable.
While all of the above can do the trick, cable and fiber internet are usually the best options.
5. Does the ISP Impose Hidden Costs?
Cable providers and other ISPs are notorious for their hidden costs. These can come in the form of equipment costs, installation costs, data caps, and periodic rate hikes. Unfortunately, hidden costs are often difficult to detect when reviewing plans, so it can be difficult to be on the lookout for them.
Be sure to read the fine print when signing up for your ISP. You can also read online reviews for reports of unexpected rate hikes. Larger, more established companies tend to have reputations for imposing hidden fees, but any company could be a culprit.
6. Do They Provide Good Customer Service?
If something does go wrong with your internet connection, you want to know that it’ll get resolved ASAP. When perusing online reviews, try to find reports about each ISP’s customer service habits.
Also look into the customer service options available to you. If a company has easy-to-use options, like online chatbots, as well as a call center staffed with friendly agents, that’s usually a good sign. It means that no matter what problem may arise, there’ll be a channel you can go through for help.
There’s much more to selecting an ISP than settling the cheapest plan available to you. Carefully researching your ISP options can help you make sure you’re getting an internet plan that provides the high-speed connectivity your lifestyle needs.