For many people, an internet service provider (ISP) is something of an afterthought – and once we’re signed up with one, most of us tend to stick with that provider for years, if not indefinitely. However, taking some time to choose the best internet service provider for your needs could save you money, better support your usage style, and upgrade your online experience.
The guide below can help you navigate the process of picking an ISP so that you can be confident that the one you use (or your business uses) is offering you value for money and incorporates all of the features you need.
Types Of Internet Connection
Firstly, it’s important to have an awareness of the different types of internet connections, to help you make a choice, as different providers often offer varying connection types:
This is considered to be the standard connection type; it’s fast, generally reliable, and widely available, although speeds can vary by a significant amount.
Fast and reliable, this is likely to, in the near future, be the standard type of internet connection; at present, though, there are limits to its availability: it’s currently only available to around 45% of residents in the US. To give you an idea of just how speedy fiber-optic connections are: they enable users to download a two-hour movie in HD in under a minute.
Standing for a digital subscriber line, this option can be a good choice for those in rural areas where other types of connections aren’t available. It runs via the phone lines, but isn’t anywhere near as slow as the old dial-up connections, doesn’t interrupt regular phone service, and tends to be cheaper than satellite phones.
Although designed to use with your phone, this type of connection is becoming more suitable for connecting to the internet at home. Although this has the potential to be a fast and convenient option, you may find yourself – at the moment – limited in terms of the packages available from the various carriers, although this is likely to change in the near future. With this in mind, you may want to have a look here for information on some of the best wifi provider options on the market right now, including a look at prices and perks.
Consider Your Usage Habits
To help you choose the right internet provider for your particular needs, it’s vital to first consider how you (and your family, if applicable) currently use your connection. This will make sure that you pick the provider that not only best suits you but also means that you don’t end up paying for features and add-ons that you might not need.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the average family needs a connection speed of over 10Mbps, which is sufficient for playing games, streaming, checking emails, and sharing files, for example. However, if you, or someone in your household, is a particularly heavy user, or a serious online gamer, then you’ll likely be well served by choosing faster speeds; an internet provider that offers fiber optic connections is probably your best option.
However, if you’re a light internet user, then you may be wise to consider cheaper plans that don’t offer unlimited data and lightning-fast speeds for a premium price.
Reliability and Coverage
As part of researching internet providers, check the coverage they can offer – is it reliable in your area? If you travel regularly, it’s also worth finding out the level of their national coverage.
As well as reliability of the general service, it’s a good idea to also investigate the reliability of speed. As well as carefully reading the details of the various plans on offer, also check plenty of reviews from current and past customers to get an idea of the service you can expect to receive on this score.
Find the Perfect Plan
Some providers now offer plans specially tailored for families, and these are definitely worth looking into, as they can save you not only money but upgrade your general online experience, too. For example, a family plan can often allow you to set data caps for each individual line in use, and you can choose to have separate bills sent – handy if you have grown-up kids. For families with younger children, the parental controls are also an advantage of these types of plans.
If you’re a student or have a student in your family, then you may also want to have a look at the internet providers that offer specific packages catering to this circumstance; typically, they’ll feature contracts that run for nine months – rather than the standard twelve – so that students don’t need to pay for a connection that they’re not using during the holidays.
Or, if you’re a serious streamer or a regular gamer, then looking for providers with packages tailored to these requirements makes sense. You’re probably best finding internet providers that offer very fast connection speeds and those that aren’t likely to suffer from lag or data throttling that could slow down gameplay; some providers even offer specialized gamer modes for the optimum online experience.