Choosing a reliable internet service provider (ISP) involves some research. From fast speeds to fair pricing, there are many factors to consider before selecting the best provider. In addition, it’s crucial to know if the provider is well-known for providing customer service or other benefits like free installation, unlimited data, and no-contract deals.
You may have two to three different internet providers to choose from, depending on your area. A good ISP should offer a network connection with minimal downtime to avoid causing trouble to the user. Here is the list of steps to follow for choosing the best internet provider in your area:
1. Find internet providers within your area
First, you need to search for internet providers available in your area using your location. If you live in an urban area, you will likely have many providers offering cable or fiber-optic networks. On the other hand, you will have fewer options if you live in a rural area.
2. Compare pricing, plans, and speeds
Now it’s time to choose a plan that provides fast speeds, a large data limit, and dependable service that’s easier on the wallet. Many providers offer ultrafast speeds at an affordable price, while others may impose data caps with specified usage limits per month. Similarly, some providers may offer unlimited data without annual contract requirements. You should list down your needs when deciding how much you are willing to pay for an internet connection. Here is a list of factors to keep in mind for better analysis:
- Speed limits
- Installation costs
- Equipment costs
- Data caps and coverage fees
- Customer satisfaction ratings
3. Look for discounts, promotions, and bundle deals
The next step is to check if the internet providers in your area offer discounts or promotions if you will sign up for their plan. If you are concerned about budget, consider choosing free or pocket-friendly internet plans available for low-income households. In addition, you might be able to negotiate an affordable deal depending on the provider. For example, if you want to subscribe to a package that includes internet service with a phone plan, see if you could get it as a bundle package. Some internet providers offer good deals for their new customers. For example, AT&T lets you pair DIRECTV STREAM with your AT&T internet plans. In addition, you can get discounts on installation or equipment costs by signing up for their qualifying plans.
4. Figure how much internet speed you need
Next, you need to figure out how much internet speed you need to accomplish your everyday tasks. No one wants to sit all day in front of a PC waiting for a download to complete. Since faster internet speeds will cost you higher, you need a plan that offers just the right speed. Therefore, you’ll need a plan that offers fast internet with adequate upload and download speeds-but not too fast, or else you’ll be paying extra for bandwidth you don’t need.
How much speed do you need?
If you are wondering how much internet speed you will need for a plan, you can evaluate your speed needs according to your daily internet usage:
|0-5 Mbps||Read news articles, check email, stream videos in HD on a single device|
|6-40 Mbps||Play online games, stream videos in HD on 2-4 devices, run 1-2 smart devices|
|41-100 Mbps||Play online games with multiple players, stream videos in 4K on 2-4 devices, run 3-5 smart devices, download large files quickly|
|101-200 Mbps||Stream videos in 4K on 5+ devices, run multiple smart devices, download large files very quickly|
|501-1,000+ Mbps||Stream videos in 4K on 10+ devices, run all types of apps on lots of devices with no slowdowns|
Here are some questions for you to answer to determine how much internet speed you’ll need:
How often do you stream videos and TV?
For streaming videos in 1080p, you’ll need 5 Mbps at a minimum for good performance. On the other hand, 4K needs at least 25 Mbps. However, if you’ve family members who share the same connection, it might cause some resolution issues. With multiple smart TVs streaming Netflix, Prime, or Spotify on the same connection, you’ll want higher internet speeds with unlimited data.
How many people stream videos and download files on their devices in your home regularly?
If you are just a single person, you don’t need to choose an expensive plan for your basic internet usage. However, if more than two people have access to your Wi-Fi, it may require at least 25 Mbps per person. So, if you have three family members, it’s best to have 100 Mbps for gaming, streaming videos, work, and attending Zoom meetings. On the other hand, if you live in a house full of teenagers or online gamers or you are running a small business, you should probably think about splurging a little more on your internet.
How fast should your upload and download speeds be?
If you study online or work from home, you’ll need fast upload and download speeds for attending online classes or meetings on Zoom, uploading files, and downloading learning material.
While most internet providers offer slow upload speeds, fiber internet provides “symmetrical” speeds which means that your upload speeds will be as fast as your download speeds. Hence, when it comes to uploading heavy tasks, symmetrical upload speeds will come in handy. Some of the most common uploading and downloading activities are as follows:
- Hosting a live stream
- Attending Zoom meetings
- Uploading content to social media
- Uploading files to the cloud
- Testing your internet speed
- Reading news articles
- Streaming videos
- Downloading files from Google Drive
- Playing online games
How many smart home devices are connected to your internet?
There are certain devices such as Bluetooth security cameras that automatically upload data to the cloud. Such devices may consume your bandwidth very quickly, so you should pay attention to every device that’s connected to the internet.
5. Test your internet speed
Once you have known your required internet speed, it’s time for a speed test to understand the difference between your current speed and the speed you need. Even if you are satisfied with your current internet, testing your internet speed will also help you compare the value of speed packages by other providers.
6. Know if you’re switching providers
Now that you have decided to switch to another internet provider, the next step is to check the terms and conditions of the service agreement with your current provider. For example, if you bail out their service before the end of your contract, it may require you to pay early termination fees (ETFs) which may cost between $10 to $15 per month. Moreover, you’ll need to return your old equipment such as modems and wireless routers. Since most providers strictly enforce such rules, if you won’t pay the fees, the unpaid fees can potentially harm your credit score.
7. Choose your internet provider
Finally, it’s time for making an informed decision considering how much speed you need and which provider offers the best plan according to your budget.
There You Are!
You have followed every step to select the best internet provider in your area. Go ahead and get in touch with your new provider for a smoother browsing experience.