Finding a reliable internet service provider (ISP) ensures your internet works properly, allowing you to work, watch Netflix, post on social media, and do everything you do online. Unfortunately, while there are many good ISPs out there, you’re limited in your choices because of your geographic location. ISPs give you access to the internet, acting as a gateway by providing you with an IP address and ultimately getting you online. There are several factors to consider when choosing the best ISP for your needs, including everything from the type of connection to hidden costs. First, let’s discuss how you can find the right ISP.
Considerations When Looking for an ISP
Everyone must be able to use the internet, including individuals and businesses. When looking for the right provider for you, you’ll need to consider several factors, including:
Connection types offered by ISPs vary, but if you want the highest speeds, look for one that offers fiber broadband. Some will offer to install a receiver to prevent the need to lay down lines around your home or business. However, wireless internet may not perform as well due to physical limitations.
When looking for the best ISP, you want to find a reliable company. If customers online are constantly complaining about losing internet access throughout the day, you can bet a provider isn’t reliable and won’t give you the type of performance you need. You can learn more about a company’s reputation by searching online and looking for reviews on Google or Yelp, or you can talk to your neighbors to find out which ISP they use and what their experience has been.
Sometimes you’ll have issues with your internet. After all, nothing is perfect. However, when your internet goes down, you want the issues resolved as soon as possible, especially if you’re trying to run a business. Additionally, if you have billing questions or need technical support, you likely want to talk to a real person who can help you. Unfortunately, some of the most well-known ISPs make you sit on hold for hours at a time or go through an automated process to register issues.
Since many people don’t have time to sit on the phone all day waiting for someone to pick up, you should always check for quality customer service. Some of the smaller companies may even offer 24-hour support. How long it takes for a company to respond to you could affect your business, so responsiveness should be essential when looking for the best ISP.
Your internet needs may change over time. For example, a small business may need a bandwidth upgrade from time to time, while a family may use multiple devices to stream television shows on an Android TV box, requiring faster internet. Some providers offer phone and internet bundles, while others may offer cable and internet bundles to meet your ever-changing needs. When selecting an ISP, consider all its products and services before making a choice. However, you should also ensure that you’ll have the option to change your service plan whenever you need to.
ISPs only service select areas, so your options may be limited if you live somewhere more rural. However, if you live in a city, you might have multiple options for where to get your internet. Unfortunately, if you rent, your rental management company may only allow you to use one ISP because they partner with them to get the best rates. However, this can also work in your favor because it means you won’t have to do any research, and the decision will be easy for you.
Of course, providers have multiple plants to choose from, so you’ll still have to consider things like speed. If you’re unsure which plan is right for you, you can always browse their different offerings online to determine which is best based on your needs and upgrade when you need higher speeds.
Data Caps and Shaping
Data plans come with different rules. While you may have been advertised an unlimited data plan, your connection speed will likely be reduced once you pass a certain threshold. Shaping is when ISPs limit internet traffic to lower speeds, so it’s important to understand the fine print on your policy before agreeing to the terms. Once you reach a data threshold, your internet may slow down, making it difficult to stream or perform basic functions.
How to Find ISPs in Your Area
Now that you understand the different factors, it’s time to start researching the different ISPs that serve your area. You may have limited options depending on where you live, so it’s best to know what those options are before you decide on one company over another. Here are a few methods to find an ISP:
1. Use a Directory
ISP directory sites can help you find available ISPs in your area. These websites allow you to enter your ZIP code to determine your options. Then, you can begin researching the different types of ISPs and plans available for you. Of course, you may also want to use multiple ISP directories to ensure you’re seeing all of the potential companies. In addition, some sites might have more options than others.
2. Ask Your Neighbors
Your neighbors already have internet access, so you can talk to them about their provider and find out if it’s the right option for you. Asking individuals in your surrounding area can help you make the right choice, especially if you have limited options.
3. Do Your Research
You don’t need an ISP directory to find internet providers in your area. Instead, you can take to Google and look for different ISP companies that service your location. Odds are, you’ll come across many big ISPs like AT&T. While it might be tempting to go for a company you already know, consider researching companies you haven’t heard of before because they may offer better internet for lower rates.
Finding the right ISP depends on many factors, including what you use the internet for. For example, businesses will need internet that can support several internal functions, allowing employees to work on multiple devices throughout the day. Meanwhile, homes need high internet speeds that allow everyone to use the internet simultaneously without interruption. Researching your area’s different ISPs and plans can ensure you make the right choice.