Finding a reliable and robust internet service provider (ISP) involves some research. So, how do you choose your ISP?
Well, there are several factors that you need to keep in mind after you’ve searched for “internet service providers near me” on Google. For starters, a good ISP must provide a network connection that suffers minimal downtime, therefore causing no trouble to the user.
What Is An ISP?
As the name says, an internet service provider is a company that gives you access to the public internet by acting as a gateway. It does various jobs like providing last mile infrastructure, assigning an IP address to your device(s), and DNS support.
Also Read: 5 Best Sites To Test Internet Speed
Things To Consider While Choosing Your ISP
1. Type of Connection: Fibre, Copper, Wireless
The type of internet connection offered by an internet provider can vary. For the best performance and higher speeds, you should pick an ISP that offers fiber broadband, preferred over copper and cable internet.
Some ISPs also offer internet wirelessly by installing a receiver unit at your premises, which reduces the hassle of laying down lines in a new place. However, that wireless internet may not achieve the performance of its fiber counterpart due to physical limitations.
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2. Download/Upload Speed and Latency
When we want to get a broadband connection, the first thing we look at is the download and upload speeds offered by the internet provider. Generally, you get a faster download speed with expensive plans.
But nowadays, even the most basic internet plans provide a download speed that’s enough for daily tasks. The goal here is to find an ISP that offers the desired internet speed within your budget.
One thing to note is that the download and upload speeds promised by the ISPs are mentioned in Mbps (Megabits per second). On the other hand, the numbers you see in your download manager or web browser are displayed in MBps (Megabytes per second).
Here, 1 byte is equal to 8 bits which means a speed of 10Mbps will appear as 1.2MBps in your browser. So, you shouldn’t confuse between the two when looking at the internet speed.
A higher download speed will enable faster file downloads and better streaming quality without buffering. You can easily stream Netflix in 4K if your internet plan supports speeds higher than 25Mbps.
However, we are now doing more video calls than before, so you should check the upload speed as well in this case. While comparing different internet plans, pay attention to the upload speed promised at a given price.
Apart from that, latency is an important factor for users who are into online gaming. While an ISP may offer latency lower than 5ms, you would be comfortable even if it’s around 50ms.
You can find many speed test results on YouTube and other platforms that will give you an idea of what you’re getting into. Note that these numbers can be different based on your location.
3. Fair Usage Policy (FUP)
If you’re a regular internet user, you might have heard about Fair Usage Policy (FUP). Almost every ISP provides an unlimited internet plan, but throttles the network speed after you consume a certain amount of data depending on your plan.
For instance, an ISP offers you a 100Mbps speed with a 100GB data cap. Once you have used up the 100GB, the speed might be reduced to, for example, 10Mbps.
This is because the ISP has limited bandwidth to offer. And if some users who are heavy downloaders take away all speed, then it will degrade the experience of other users. That’s why they put a limit in place; however, FUP is mostly implemented in a way that rarely affects the usage of everyday users who are mostly into social media and some binge-watching.
4. Easy Plan Modifications, Hidden Costs
One thing that could be really annoying is when the process to change your internet plan and surrender your connection is cumbersome. This could turn out to be among the major factors to consider when choosing an internet service provider.
Your ISP should provide an easy way to modify your internet plan, say via a smartphone app or a web portal, instead of asking you to send a mail that can take X number of working days to come into effect. The app or website should also display real-time information like how much monthly data you have exhausted and other useful data.
Another point worth considering is if your internet provider wants an upfront installation cost or security deposit. If it’s a contract, what would be the charges if you terminate it early?
5. Data Rollover, Pause Connection
An ISP should have a data rollover scheme. What this means is if you weren’t able to consume your entire data cap in a month, the leftover data will be transferred to the subsequent month without any extra charges.
This can be really helpful at times when you are on vacation and can’t consume your data. Speaking of which, some ISPs also provide the option to pause your broadband connection for a minimal fee in case you won’t be able to use it for a couple of months. This saves you the hassle of surrendering your connection and you can get it back quickly when you return.
6. Some Internet Providers Give Free Stuff And Goodies
In addition to the monthly data cap, many ISPs have started bundling home-baked and third party services to lure the users. For instance, Verizon offers free Disney+ and Hulu subscriptions with some of its unlimited plans. That could be an added perk when you’re looking to compare plans for purchasing internet service.
7. Customer Support Of The ISP
Last but not least, customer support is extremely important while choosing an internet provider. Having your internet connection down for a day is the last thing you want in this fast-paced world, and the crappy customer support of your ISP making it worse.
Before getting an internet connection, check user reviews on platforms like Quora and Reddit that will give you an idea of the customer support for a particular ISP. However, some user reviews might be affected by personal sentiments and may give you the wrong picture. Hence, you should check out some blogs as well.
So, these were some important pointers to keep in mind while answering the question — how to choose your ISP. If you have something to add, drop your thoughts in the comments below.