Determining which internet provider is best for you and your home may seem like an overwhelming task, especially with the amount of providers available to those living in larger metropolitan areas with many options. Even if your rural home only has two options, figuring out exactly what you need can be confusing. Companies’ promises don’t always seem to mean exactly what they say, and this can be additionally frustrating. Below, we’ve broken down the key factors in determining which internet provider is best for you.
The first step is to figure out which providers offer internet service in your area. While some areas and major cities will have a plethora of options, more rural locales may only have a few—or even only one. Also consider that while satellite and DSL (digital subscriber line) internet services may be available virtually anywhere, they are much slower than cable or fiber optic services.
The best way to determine which providers offer coverage in your area is to use websites such as Broadbandnow.com where you can enter a zip code and find a list of available providers. You can also ask neighbors or your landlord to see which providers may already have lines running to your home or building as that may save you installation costs down the road.
Plans and Pricing
Nowadays, every internet package you look at markets itself as “high-speed internet”, but that certainly comes with a cost. According to the most recent Broadband Pricing Index reportthe average monthly cost of internet service is $36.33. You can expect basic internet with download speeds of at least 25 Mbps at this price point. But you’ll pay slightly more for the highest speeds, with averages closer to $58.12according to the report.
But internet plans and prices can vary widely based on several factors. That’s why it’s essential to understand what speeds you can expect from your internet plan before purchasing.
Once you’ve determined a list of providers in your area, it’s time to compare each ISP’s plans, offered speeds and prices. First and foremost, you should figure out how much speed you need for your household.
A great way to evaluate your internet speed needs is to test your current internet speed and compare it to the available options. Presumably, you know if you are pleased or disappointed in your current internet, so use an internet speed test, such as speedtest.net. If you’re still unsure, a good rule of thumb is 50 to 100 Mbps allows 4K video streaming on two to three devices, some online gaming and quick downloads. Speeds clocked around 100 to 500 Mbps will give you 4K streaming on four to five devices, multiplayer online gaming and the ability to run numerous smart devices. Speeds between 500 and 1,000 Mbps or higher will give you basically no slow-down from the internet no matter what you try to run. If you regularly upload files to the cloud, host streams or attend Zoom meetings, you’ll also want to pay attention to your upload speeds.
Nothing is worse than opening an internet browser to see a “no connection” message. A reliable internet connection is vital in any home or property, but mainly if you depend on the internet for work-related purposes. Therefore, when selecting an internet provider, you want to ensure you do your research by reading reviews on websites like DSLReports. Or get a sense of the customer service by calling a potential internet service provider and talking through your assessment with a representative.
Promotions, Discounts and Bundles
After you’ve determined your optimal internet speed and selected a plan from a few providers, the final comparison to make is between any promotions, discounts or bundled services your chosen providers may offer. If you’re looking for a TV subscription, a landline phone or home security, internet service providers often bundle these things with internet plans. Additionally, many ISPs offer sign-up promotions or discounts, sometimes in the form of no cost subscriptions to popular streaming sites or Visa prepaid gift cards.