It’s no longer enough to have a great wired connection inside your home — users want to take tablets, smartphones, and laptops into the basement, garage, or backyard, all without having to rely on 3G or 4G connections, and for that you need the best wireless service possible. But how do you find the fastest wireless Internet provider in your area? Here are three quick tips:


Consider What You Need

Before you go looking for the best provider, consider your wireless needs. Is your plan for a wireless connection to surf the web or answer emails in the backyard, or do you need a dedicated service that can handle large-volume file downloads on a regular basis? If your real focus is mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, it may make sense to choose a mobile communications provider rather than a more traditional service as your provider. Some offer signal boosters which connect to USB or other device inputs to increase signal strength, allowing you to access wireless from just about anywhere. It’s also worth knowing how much downloading you do per month, so take a look at your last few billing cycles. Your invoices should list the amount of data received and sent; if they don’t, call your current provider and ask.

Consider What You Have

In some cases, it may make more sense to piggyback off wired signals to get the wireless connection you need. This is especially true in rural areas of the US, which may have access to broadband but don’t have the kind of wireless transmission infrastructure necessary to support high-speed networks or charge a significant premium for wireless services. Using a wired/wireless router in combination with a wireless signal booster can give you total home coverage, but without the need for a dedicated wireless plan. Of course, you’re limited by the speed of your wired network, but in most cases that’s more than sufficient.

Find Reliable Data

Once you’ve assessed what you need and what you have, it’s time to find hard data. The federal government has created a broadband map, which covers the entire country and can be filtered by connection type and location. Just enter your zip code and you’ll get a list of providers and their connection speed rates. From there, you can refine your search to include only wireless and see who in your area supplies the service, and who has the highest speed. The map is updated every six months but is a great baseline for evaluating potential service providers. For example, using the zip code 90210 gives four wireless providers offering speeds above 3 Mbps. Big players AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all come in between 10 and 25 Mbps, while smaller service CyberNet Communications offers 6 to 10 Mbps.

After Finding the Fastest Wireless Internet

Now, make a few phone calls or web inquiries. Great infrastructure and a great price don’t always go hand-in-hand, and in some cases, a slightly slower provider will be worth the lower cost. Ultimately, however, the best connection for your home depends on how often you use wireless, where you use it, and how fast you need it to be (remember: check your internet performance with a speed test to find out).

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