4 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Internet Service Provider

Everyone deals with internet issues at times. While Wi-Fi is often the culprit, sometimes it’s your internet provider that’s to blame. Part of the issue is figuring out which internet plan will answer your particular needs. Internet service providers (ISPs) are always creating new and improved ways to package their services. This can make even a modestly old internet plan feel dated before long.

If you haven’t considered your internet plan in a while, take some time to review your current setup. From a basic internet connection to bundled packages, blistering speed, quality prices, and best-in-show service, here are some of the most important things to look for in your internet plan.

Choosing an Internet Service Provider

1. Speed

When it comes to internet plans, one of the first things to consider is the kind of internet that you require. Mostly, this boils down to speed. How fast do you need your download and upload speeds to be? This can vary depending on your internet needs. For example:

  • 25 Mbps (megabits per second) is plenty of speed for limited devices that perform basic functions like gaming, streaming, or playing music.
  • 100 Mbps can help keep several devices running at full capacity at the same time.
  • 500 Mbs is ideal for things like working from home and remote schooling where video chats and online collaboration are regularly required.
  • 1000 Mbs can be overkill in most cases — for the time being, at least. However, if you have a smart home or simply have a large number of devices online, this enormous speed can keep you up and running at all times.

If you already have a service, it may also be a good idea to use a speed test tool to see what your current speed is. There are both apps and websites that can help you with this.

Figuring out how much speed you need — as well as how much you already have — is a good first step. It provides important information to help you figure out what kind of internet plan you need.

2. Availability

The next step is researching what internet providers you have available. What options can you choose from in your area? 

Do you live in an urban center with half a dozen providers all offering competitive prices? Are you a rural dweller with a single service provider available? 

There are multiple websites that can help you identify what internet options you have to choose from. This can give you an idea of how diverse your shopping selection will be.

3. Ratings and Reviews

It’s tempting to choose an internet provider based on your needs and the best package that you see. However, there’s one critical step that you should take first.

Before committing to an option, do some homework to understand how reliable the service may be. If you’re a business, you can try to get an SLA (service-level agreement). This gives you a promise, in writing, regarding what kind of service you should receive from your ISP on a regular basis. 

If you’re shopping for residential service, you may not be able to expect this kind of preferential treatment. Nevertheless, you can still mine ratings and reviews online. This can give you a decent idea of how respectable each provider is. 

Check to see ratings on sites such as the Better Business Bureau and Google My Business Listing. As you do so, look to see if the company’s customer service team has answered complaints and addressed customer inquiries. This can help you understand if each ISP is or is not a company that will put you, the customer, first.

4. Price

Of course, the biggest consideration in every internet plan is the cost. Having a Cadillac plan won’t do you much good if it’s costing you $500 a month simply to run Netflix. 

This is where all of your previous research comes into play. Things like required speed, reviews, and local availability help to ensure that you’re getting a good price. You can apply your research by:

  • Comparing competing services: This will allow you to see if there is a price discrepancy in the same download and upload speeds offered by two different providers.
  • Considering what internet options meet your needs: You may get a discount on a larger package, but are you still paying far too much money for speeds that you don’t need?
  • Looking at bundled options: Many ISPs offer bundles that can combine internet, phone, and cable together at a discounted rate. While having more than one is not always necessary, bundling can save you money if you plan on using multiple services.
  • Applying knowledge from ratings and reviews: Finally, remember the reputation of each organization. Do you want the cheapest option possible? Are you willing to pay a little more to get service from a more reliable provider?

When it comes to choosing an ISP, the price shouldn’t only revolve around the cheapest option. There are multiple factors that come into play. This is where doing thorough research and preparation beforehand can make a world of a difference.

From availability to reliability, speed to pricing, there are many factors to keep in mind when choosing an ISP. The main takeaway here should be the simple fact that it isn’t a decision to take lightly. Choosing a poor internet package can subtly undermine many other things in the process. 

For instance, having a cutting-edge tablet or computer can be useless if it’s hampered by slow internet speeds. In the same vein, choosing a breakneck download speed won’t do you much good if the signal is inconsistent. Overpaying for a speed that you don’t need isn’t wise either. And having your internet cut out on you during an important remote work call will only make you look bad.

So take stock of your current internet scenario. Figure out what factors are the most important to your particular situation. Then use that research to compare your options and find an internet plan that is the best suited for your unique circumstances.

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