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Where to Find the Best Internet Providers

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Most households consider internet service a basic need. It is almost as important as electricity and running water. However, many customers still wonder where to find the best internet providers within their zip code. To find the right plan, it helps to understand your own needs and the different types of internet connections that are available.

What is an ISP?

ISP stands for Internet Service Provider(ISP).  It is the service of providing an Internet connection for a household or a business, even for a cell phone or smart device.

People who live in rural areas will have a difficult time finding fast service because of the lack of infrastructure.

Consumers who are lucky enough to have lots of choices will have the fastest connection options. The search for a good deal and reliable service can be time-consuming. Fast, reliable Internet service is getting better every year. A recent report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index shows an increase in customer satisfaction. That’s the first increase for the ISP industry in more than four years.

Even more impressive is that consumer confidence appears to be holding steady. An increase in competition at local levels may be partly to thank for improved service and more competitive pricing industry-wide.

The Role of an Internet Service Provider

What functions does an ISP provide behind the scenes to be able to offer Internet service? ISPs maintain all the networking, routing, and telecommunications infrastructure that makes internet access possible. It's a big job, and we wouldn't have internet without them.

Many ISPs also offer other services such as email services, domain name registration, and web hosting. However, their main function is to provide internet access. Spectrum, AT&T, and Verizon are a few of the best-known national ISPs.

Step by Step Help for Finding the Best Internet Providers

1. Find Out what’s Available

Don’t sign up for any internet provider until you know they are available in your area. Not every ISP will be. Use your zip code to do an internet search for companies near you. Once you know what options are open, you can eliminate providers who don’t meet your needs.

2. Compare Price, Plans, and Speed

Every ISP has a specialty of some kind to help it stand out in the marketplace. Traditionally, finding the best provider meant you had to compromise. You either get great speed and a high price or affordability but poor service. Fortunately, that is changing. With a bit of comparison shopping, it is possible to find an internet service that meets all your needs.

Some of the most important issues to consider include:

  • Data caps (imposed limits on the amount of data you can use during a given time period)
  • Overage fees (extra charges for going over your data cap)
  • Installation and equipment costs
  • Plans
  • Price
  • Customer feedback
  • Internet speed

Once you’ve compared the available options, you’ll have a better idea of where to find the best internet providers in your town.

Understanding Internet Speed

If you’re not sure what kind of internet speed your household needs, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to figure out. Internet speed is measured in megabits of data per second, or Mbps.  A family with several internet users and devices—including smart televisions and other smart appliances, gaming devices, cell phones, e-readers, and laptops requires a high level of Mbps. Slow speeds cause long waiting times and shutdowns. Access problems are worse during peak hours when everyone tries to get on the internet at the same time with some providers.

The following guide will help determine how much internet speed your household needs:

  • 1 to 2 people with casual internet use, music streaming, emails, and social media – 5 to 25 Mbps
  • 1 to 3 people with streaming HD, gaming, occasional work from home, 4K video and streaming music – 25 to 50 Mbps
  • 2 to 4 people with all of the above plus home security devices, and regular work from home – 50 to 100 Mbps
  • 2 to 5 people with all of the above plus smart home devices/appliances, and work from home 50% of the time – 100 to 500 Mbps
  • 3 to 5+ people with all of the above plus full-time home office or creative professional working from home – 500 to 1,000 Mbps

3. Know Your Connection

Does it make a difference if your ISP uses fiber, cable, or DSL for internet connection? Yes, it does. Before you can effectively compare service providers, you need to understand the pros and cons of each delivery system.

DSL

Digital subscriber line, or DSL, delivers internet using copper phone lines. One big advantage to DSL is that it is available in about 90% of the U.S. However, speeds vary. DSP service can be slow if you live a long way from your ISP's local office. Price is another advantage. DSL is typically less expensive than either cable or fiber.

Cable

Cable connects to the internet using copper coaxial television cables. Like DSL, cable is also available throughout about 90% of the country. It offers higher speeds than DSL. However, bandwidth is shared in neighborhoods. This means delivery can slow down up to 20% in the evening. That's when everyone gets home from work and school and starts surfing the net or streaming movies.

Fiber Optic

Fiber optic connection is currently the fastest way to deliver internet service. Traveling literally at the speed of light, fiber can provide speeds up to 100x faster than DSL.  There are no slowdowns with fiber, no matter how far away your local server’s office is or how many people are accessing service at the same time.

The downside of fiber is that it's not readily available. Nationwide, only about 25% of consumers have access. Where it is available, fiber is typically the most expensive option due to its fast speed and reliability.

4. Look for Discounts and Deals

Now that you’ve eliminated one or two service providers, it’s time to talk money. Some ISPs entice new customers with promotions or discounts for signing up. Be sure the post-promotional price works for your budget before signing on the dotted line.

Bundling services is a smart way to reduce media costs. Compare bundled packages for combining TV, phone, and internet service under one plan. Bundles typically offer a better price than dealing with three or four service providers. Paying only one bill makes life a little simpler.

Other promotions may include sign-on bonuses in the form of gift cards or free (short-term) subscriptions to streaming services. Reduced prices on installation or equipment are sometimes available with plans that qualify.

Be sure to read all the fine print before basing your decision on sign-up discounts. You could end up in a long-term service agreement that is more expensive than a few months of free movie streaming are worth.

5. Order Your Service

Now that you’ve done all your homework, compared plans, and found the best deal, the only thing that’s left is to call and order your internet service. Be prepared to wait for several days or more for an appointment with a technician.  In the meantime, you can help expedite the process by finding the access point that the technician will bring the internet into your home.

Still Wondering Where to Find the Best Internet Providers?

If you’re still unsure where to find the best internet providers in your area or you don’t have the time to comparison shop, there is another option. Teleful Connect can simplify the decision-making process for you. By working with leading internet service providers across the country, Teleful Connect helps connect consumers with the internet services they need at prices that meet their budget. Visit Teleful Connect today for more information.