Are you on the lookout for the best internet service in your area? First, it would be best to know what the different options are. You’ll hear terms like cable, DSL, satellite and fiber optics. But at the end of the day, they all fall under the same umbrella term – broadband.
Broadband services are internet connections that are always on. They are high speed and allow you to be connected 24/7. Other than broadband, dial-up is another choice that is, surprisingly, still available in some areas. But unless you have no other choice, broadband should be on top of your list.
Different Types of Broadband Connections
Let me give you a better idea of how different these broadband connections are. Here’s an overview of their pros and cons:
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)
Just like dial-up, DSL works through regular phone lines. Of course, the speeds are a lot faster. Download speeds can reach 25mb per second, and possibly soon, even higher.
DSL comes in two forms – Asymmetric DSL and Symmetric DSL. ADSL is the cheaper option. Its download speeds are a lot faster than its upload speeds. However, if the upload speed is just as important to you, SDSL may be the better option. Here, download and upload speeds are equally fast. This is perfect for those who have huge files to store to the cloud, as well as for VPN users.
- Less expensive
- More providers to choose from
- Speeds are consistent
- Connection is stable
- Speed and quality depends on distance (connection becomes more unreliable the farther you are from your provider’s central office)
- Not as fast as the other broadband types
Cable broadband works through your cable TV provider’s coaxial cable wires. Speeds can range anywhere from 3mbps to more than 100mbps.
- Stability of connection us not dependent on distance
- Faster than satellite and DSL
- More widely available compared to fiber optics
- Shared bandwidth (the more people in the neighborhood using the service at the same time, the slower it becomes)
From the name itself, a satellite connection uses satellites to send the internet feed to a user’s satellite dish. Download speeds can reach up to 15mbps while upload speeds can reach up to 3mbps.
- Available almost everywhere (even areas that cable, DSL and fiber optics can’t reach)
- Slower than other options
- More expensive
Fiber Optic Service (FiOS)
To give you some background, fiber optic lines are made of pure glass. They are so thin, their size can be compared to human hair. So how does a fiber optic connection work? It basically uses light to transmit data over an optical network. Download speeds can reach up to 300mbps while upload speeds reach up to 65mpbs.
- Offers the highest speeds among all broadband options
- Only available in a few areas
Now that you have an idea what your different options are, let’s talk about the things you have to consider before choosing an internet service provider.
Things to Consider before Choosing an ISP
You’ve seen the pros and cons of each type of broadband connection. But that’s not the only thing that you should look at. If it were easy enough to just choose the connection with the most pros, everybody would be happy with their ISP.
The truth is, it’s never that easy.
Here are the things that you would have to look at before deciding on an ISP:
You may be eyeing a specific kind of service now. But is it available in your area? Unfortunately, the most sought after services are also the hardest to find in a lot of areas. It won’t be a problem if you’re in a progressive city. The chances are high that every possible option is offered. But what if you’re in a rural area? What if you’re in the city’s outskirts?
This is why your first step should be to check what specific connections are available in your area. This will save you a lot of time and effort. From here, it will be easier to come up with a shortlist.
Download and Upload Speeds
Everybody wants fast internet. There’s a reason why people either laugh or cringe when they think about dial-up services. Yes, that service is still available in some areas. But people who are using it use it because they have no other choice.
The download speed is a given. It has to be high enough because this dictates how quickly pages will load. This defines how long it takes for you to download a single file. Now, you’re going to have to think about your upload speeds as well. It’s normal to see services where the download is way higher than the upload. But if you send huge files online or use programs that require high upload speeds, then this is something to look into.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have enough money for the fastest possible speed in your area. Think about why you need your connection. Are you only planning to do some Google research? Are you just hoping to catch up on your social networks? If these are the only things you plan on doing, then a regular plan would suffice. Getting top-of-the-line internet services for these reasons would be a waste of resources.
If you do some heavy duty online work that requires huge bandwidth, however, then you’ll have to allot a bigger budget.
Your contract does not just come with your internet connection. This is why you have to study every single part of your contract. How much data are you allowed to use in a month? Does your connection get throttled after that, or can you top your account up to get more bandwidth?
Some services may also be packaged with something else. Cable internet, for example, may be bundled with your cable TV service. The same thing can be said with your DSL and your landline.
There may also be a few restrictions with your contract. Read the fine print to avoid any surprises along the way. If you plan on running a file server, for example, some internet plans may not allow this.
Check for add-ons as well! Some ISPs add value to their packages by throwing in some extras. Anti-virus subscriptions are among the most common giveaways. Free email accounts are also a popular freebie.
No ISP can promise you 100% availability. There will always be maintenance work. There’s going to be some downtime. The question is, how often can you expect these downtimes to occur? If you’re going to spend most of your time complaining about not having internet, then it’s not worth it no matter how low the price.
Check for reviews. Do some background research. Take it from the experience of other users.
An imperfect ISP is normal. The question is, how do they handle mishaps and issues? You’re going to need a provider who knows how to provide REAL solutions. It’s common enough to hear stories of irate customers receiving hollow apologies. What you need is an ISP that can really take care of you, the kind of service you’d give 5 stars for even when you lose your connection.
Choosing the right ISP is not a walk in the park. But with the right process and the right kind of data, you’ll definitely end up with a sure winner you won’t be sorry about.
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