There are many home Internet service providers, or ISPs, and finding the right one can actually take a little work. Most people take the easy route and grab the least expensive they can find or just go with whomever the local carrier is.
Is that the right decision? It depends on your needs as the consumer, but you may not always know what you’re really getting.
Bundles or Package Deals
Bundles are a very popular option offered by all major cable carriers. The cable companies offer to reduce the price of Internet if the consumer adds a local phone service and/or some kind of cable to their account. Many people don’t use land-line phones anymore and rely on their cell phones for day-to-day calling, but typically it’s cheaper to get the bundle than to just get cable and Internet separately.
On the other hand, if you’re a renter—and cable is already paid for—then it may be advantageous to get Internet by itself. Everyone should look into these options before jumping into a bundle deal. Also, make sure the pricing is permanent: many package deals start off with a great price, but the prices jump up after six months or a year.
When deciding if you’re going with a bundle, you also need to find out about Internet speeds. ISPs typically have speed packages available as well, which offer higher data transfer rates for those who need it for activities like frequent online gaming or streaming video. If you’re not sure what you need, then get the basic package and go to BandwidthPlace.com and take an Internet speed test. If things are running a little slow, upgrade for a month, and visit BandwidthPlace.com again to see the improvements in your connection speed.
The Internet is not a place where “you-get-what-you-pay-for” applies. Many companies will offer to make better deals than your local carrier. Read the fine print before joining any of them. Many ISPs are renting the lines, poles and data transfer from the local carriers and they can, in the long run, cost more than the local carrier.
Free ISP companies still exist, but there’s a catch. They all offer free services, but they want to run advertisements on the computer while you’re surfing the web. These advertisements are tracked and so are your Internet browsing habits, so the ISP can show advertisements that pertain to where you surf. The free ISPs may not be the safest choice, but for those users with few other options, this may work.
The Internet is a great place to find out about customer care considerations of an ISP service. Make sure there is 24-hour help service and that most of the customers are satisfied with the customer care offered. In some cases, if you lose Internet, the customer care department can get you going again just by performing a simple reset on your router.
Home Internet service providers offer many options. No matter which you choose, be sure to read the fine print. Cable companies sell all your information to third-party vendors, unless you specifically tell them not to at start up. Ask if they have parental control, anti-virus, and networking options.