Even though it hasn’t been recognized as a utility officially but we all know that the internet is no longer a luxury for our homes or businesses. It has become an integral part of our lives and we no longer have the choice to live without it. Some may like to argue to the notion and I agree that there is still a small percentage of people who continue to live by the ways of the past. However, the vast majority would agree that technology was invented to make our lives convenient and it has done that quite effectively.
Unlike the times of our grandparents or even our parents for that matter, now we can do everything online, from studying to running a business, working remotely for someone or learning a new craft, everything is at the touch of our fingertips….LITERALLY! However, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for an internet connection to cater to your small business’s needs or to help you stay entertained at home, the one question that always arises is “What makes an ISP (Internet Service Provider) stand out from the rest?” Or to put it simply what would make an ISP worth your money?
To answer that we have put together a few factors to consider when choosing an ISP for your business or home use. They will help you get a clear perspective of what is important when making the decision.
First things first, it will be pointless to research an ISP that does not serve your area. So the first thing you need to figure out is which types of internet connections are available at your location and which ISPs are providing those connections in your area. There are mainly four types of internet connections: DSL, Cable, Fiber-Optic, and Satellite. Usually, city dwellers will have all four available to them to choose from whereas most rural areas may have satellite as the only option.
Several websites can help you search for the available providers in your area. One such website that I found helpful when I was searching for an ISP myself was localcabledeals.com. All you have to do is put in your zip code and you will see a list of providers offering services in your area. You can also compare their plans to find the best offers. Another way to go is by going to individual ISP websites and checking out their availability; however, that can be quite arduous.
Often overlooked, it is one of the most important factors to consider. A great customer service department means that the company cares about its customers and wants to be able to help them efficiently. From the moment you sign up, until the time you cancel an ISP’s service, the kind of experience you have with them depends on the competence of their customer support personnel
Next comes the speed of your internet connection. This depends on the number of users in your household and their usage at peak times. The higher the number of users and the heavier their usage the more speed you will require. For example, if you are four people in the house and you like to play online games, stream videos, listen to online music, work from home as well as do schoolwork research then you will require at least 100 Mbps of speed to avoid overloading the connection.
However, the speeds available to you are also dependent on your location. Some areas may have access to fiber-optic internet that can provide speeds up to 1 Gig whereas others may be stuck with a DSL connection providing speeds up to 6 Mbps only. In terms of speed, fiber-optic is the fastest with cable next in line, DSL offers moderate speeds and satellite is the slowest of them all.
Of course, we all want the best things in life, but when it comes to affordability, everyone’s best stands at a different level. What may seem like a great price for you may burn a hole in my pocket. So there is no shame in considering the price of an internet connection to decide which one works best for you. It is recommended that you compare ISPs and their plans before finalizing a package that you can afford. From personal experience I can say that Spectrum offers are quite reasonably priced, thus, fitting the majority of the population’s budget. However, you must conduct your research too.
Generally, fiber-optic connections are pricey due to the use of the latest technology and limited availability, whereas cable is widely available and usually a budget–friendly option. DSL connections use telephone lines and thus are quite affordable due to the vast infrastructure and lower costs to provide the service. Satellite, however, can get quite expensive with its special equipment and installation costs.
Being discussed last does not make it any less important. There is nothing more frustrating than an internet connection you cannot rely on. Nobody can bear with the internet that keeps giving up on you now and then. Please understand that I am not saying an internet connection should never go down because that’s just unrealistic. Even the best ISP in the world may someday face an outage due to factors beyond their control. What’s important is that your ISP should have a contingency plan for such situations and you should be aware of it.
Some ISPs offer a Service Level Agreement stating what their minimum level of service will be and how they will compensate you in case of any downtime caused by a factor at their end. It will be a good idea to enquire about such an agreement upon sign up because it can be quite beneficial in outages.
You must keep all the above factors in mind and think about them thoroughly before making the decision and signing up with an ISP. It is a hassle choosing an ISP once; imagine if you have to keep doing this every other month. Trust me; you will be pulling out your hair by the third time. So in order to enjoy a stress–free service consider all the factors discussed above and choose wisely. A little more time spent on research saves you from countless hours of frustration.