Unlike just a couple of decades ago, choosing an Internet Service Provider for your house is actually a big decision. With so much web connectivity in the ever-growing Internet of Things, the ISP you settle on must have more attributes than you might have needed a few years ago — before tablets, smartphones such as the LG G6 and Amazon Echo-like devices took root in the home. Here are the most important considerations.
What Is the Advertised Speed of the Network?
Given that lower speeds are supported by DSL connections and higher ones by fiber, you’ll find the options at the higher end few and far between – and somewhat less competitive. However, if you’ve got a lot devices per household, and you have a gamer in the residence, then opt for the higher speeds. You’ll also need this for streaming videos unless you want an unmanageable experience watching movies.
In the same vein, make sure you understand that download speeds will almost certainly be different from upload speeds – with the latter being slower by a factor of ten, usually. This is important for what your primary purpose is; if you use the internet mostly for streaming movies, downloading music, video conferencing or gaming, then you want high download speeds in the megabytes of per second.
On the other hand, if you are active on an image uploading site for work or for play; such as Pinterest, YouTube or any other social media platform, then upload speeds are more important. To get similar for both, search for ISPs that provide synchronous speeds.
Search for Data Cap Values in Your ISPs
You’d be wise to know the data caps before you purchase a network plan – otherwise, you could find yourself without internet near the end of a month of vigorous gaming and Netflix streaming. Understand if your plan even has a data cap, and what the results are of exceeding it. Some ISPs will throttle your connection, which means you’ll experience periods of severe lag when downloading or uploading.
For the most part, the penalties are separated into two classes: hard caps and soft data caps. For the former, you could be charged heavily for exceeding your monthly allotment – but at least you’ll still have service. For the latter, a similar penalty is accorded; but the amount you pay is prorated.
What Are the Contract Terms
Comparing the contract terms of various ISPs is a big factor in helping you decide; after all, as competition drives the prices of services down, you may want to exit one provider in favor of another. If the termination fees are high, this could be a reason to avoid what looks like a better service on the surface in favor of another provider.
Additionally, the monthly service fees of ISPs show a trend of rising month-after-month sometimes, and being bound to a two-year contract can make this a much more expensive proposition than you originally signed up for. Regardless of which provider you choose, always be ready to call them and negotiate a changing rate – they often add-on services that you didn’t request and charge you for it. More often than not, you can get a price reduction. There is, after all, competition for your business, and they tend to play the long game.
Beyond these, all that’s really left is to make sure the ISP provides the packaged services you need. These days, for most households, this entails broadband internet, cell phone data coverage (sometimes), broadcast services and more. Figure out what’s important to you and choose an ISP network for your home, so that you don’t end up paying for packaged services that you rarely use.