Posted Sep 8, 2015
Financial Tips: How to Choose the Best Internet Service Provider
Like going to the DMV, getting flu shots, and taking public transportation, choosing an Internet service provider isn’t the most exciting thing about adulthood– but it is necessary for survival. Today our world revolves around the Internet, from social media to paying bills to finding where to go out for dinner.
If you’ve paid a cable/Internet bill before, then you know how much your service provider can have a direct impact on your livelihood (and mood, but I digress). As a frequent user of the Internet myself, I can attest to the sense of “whaaaat?” when getting that first service bill– and it’s even worse when coverage is spotty and customer service is subpar.
This is especially crucial if you work from home full-time or periodically (and a growing number of young renters do). As a result, it’s a big decision to make, and not one that you and your roommates should take lightly.
Need some good financial tips? Read below for what you need to know about picking the best Internet service provider:
All About Internet Coverage
It’s an unfortunate fact for many renters that they will only have a handful of options when it comes to Internet service. However, you will want to understand what the differences are between various types of Internet connections. For the most part, there is broadband coverage, which breaks down into the following Internet connection categories: cable, satellite, DSL, and fiber optic service.
Here are some things you’ll need to know about the pros and cons of each:
- DSL service uses phone cables (much like dial-up in the days of yore) to connect residents to the Internet. Although this option is usually the cheapest of the bunch, the connection speeds aren’t always reliable, especially if you live in an area that’s far away from a provider’s central office.
- Cable broadband service uses TV wires to connect users to the Internet. Most of the time, the bandwidth is shared between many people in your neighborhood– which means that if lots of individuals are online at the same time, service can be slow (this is why streaming “House of Cards” always crashes and burns during premiere night). However, in general, cable Internet service is faster than DSL.
- Satellite Internet service is great for people who live in rural areas who might not get access to cable or fiber Internet. However, it tends to be slower and more expensive.
- Fiber optic service is by far the fastest option (Google Fiber probably being the most impressive), but it is still very much in the beginning stages and is not available in most areas.
Find Out What’s Available
Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons of each type of Internet service provider, you must then find out what companies offer Internet service in your area. For instance, you might be lucky enough to live in a city that hosts Google Fiber or Verizon’s fiber optic service– which are some of the fastest for renters.
There are a few sites out there that can help with your research– cable providers have the tendency to offer package deals, so you’ll want to see which one might suit you. DSLReports is a great site that helps residents see what types of coverage are available in their zip code, as is ISP Providers In My Area.
However, in order to check prices, you have to go to each provider’s individual site to see how much you’ll need to fork over on a monthly basis. Be careful during this phase of Internet service provider shopping. Though some companies offer attractive one-month or three-month deals at the beginning, perhaps a fixed rate might be the best way to go in the long term.
Determine What’s Best For Your Apartment (and Budget)
Both Netflix and Google measure up how fast their content loads by service providers, so if you need a yardstick to measure Internet service providers, these are two great places to start. Netflix in particular utilizes speed index on a monthly basis to provide more useful knowledge for its subscribers, while Google has its own Video Quality Report that measures Internet speed by measuring the video capabilities of these providers through YouTube streaming metrics.
So, in short? Do your homework! Nothing is more frustrating than trying to burn the midnight oil, or even downloading a favorite movie, only to find that your Internet service provider isn’t up to the job. While choosing the best service might not be the most fun part of moving into your first apartment, it’s definitely an important decision that will impact you in the long term.
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