One of the hardest parts of choosing your home internet service is balancing your budget with your needs. And in the world of internet, it can be difficult to understand what you’re looking at. Am I getting a good deal? Do I need faster internet? How many Megabits per second do I need? What’s a Megabit?
Don’t worry—we can help. This short guide will get you started on some home internet basics, including some of the most common terms and what to expect when you sign up for internet service. As always, you can call us anytime for answers to your burning questions—even if you feel like you should already know the answer. We’re happy to help!
The Basics of Home Internet
To start with, let’s define some commonly-used internet terms.
- Bandwidth: This pertains to amount of data you are transferring. Think of bandwidth as lanes on a highway.
- Broadband: This term gets thrown around a lot, and it can confuse people. It’s a catch-all term that essentially means “faster than dial-up,” such as DSL, wireless, cable, and fiber. If you’re not still using your parent’s computer from the ’90s, complete with its vintage dial-up connection, you’re using broadband internet.
- Mbps: This term reference to Megabits per second, and it’s one you’ll see when you read a comparison of plans offered by an internet service provider (ISP). Comparing megabits is one of the easiest and most popular ways to compare internet speeds. For most devices, you’ll need between two and five Mbps. There are lower and higher plans available from most internet service providers, ranging from the minimum to stream video—0.5 Mbps—to the Super HD quality of 7 Mbps.
- DSL: DSL stands for digital subscriber line, a type of internet that uses the existing phone line to your home to provide internet. DSL is an affordable internet form, but it has one large drawback: it’s based on distance, and if you’re far away from your service provider, you’ll get slower internet speeds. Many experts would consider DSL outdated.
- Cable: Cable internet uses your cable service to deliver internet to your home. This kind of service has one problem that makes it frustrating: at peak usage times you’ll experience slowdowns to the point of being unusable. Your entire neighborhood will share your cable service, and you’ll end up not getting the speed you’re paying for more often than not.
- Wireless: Wireless internet is one of the most common types of internet you’ll see. This kind of connection uses radio frequency bands in place of telephone or cable networks, and thus avoids some of the pitfalls of other options. It provides an always-on connection but is still, at times, subject to slowdowns due to heavy traffic times, and you can use multiple modems to make your entire house a hotspot.
- Fiber: Finally, an increasingly popular option is fiber or fiber optic. Fiber offers super fast speeds because of the high tech materials is made of. Fiber is sometimes called “The Final Upgrade.”
How to Shop Around
The best way to determine what kind of internet you should choose is to look at your current usage and decide how to meet your needs with an affordable option. Just need cheap wireless internet for your home to pay bills online? Or do you rely on your internet connection for family entertainment or to home-school your children?
Here are some ways to comparison shop.
- Ask around: What do your neighbors, family, and friends use for internet? Are they pleased? Run speed tests in their homes and compare what they are getting to what plan they are signed up for.
- Consider data caps: If multiple members of your family are watching Netflix and YouTube on several devices throughout your home each month, it’s important to research any data caps a potential provider might have. It’s not a pleasant experience to find out at the end of the month that your home went over its allotted internet cap and now you have a $200 penalty fee.
- Additional costs: Steer away from companies that pile on the fees and hide the true cost of their services. Extra services may include technical support, installation, etc.
- Customer Support: Internet is not bulletproof. There will be times when bad weather, router issues, or other mishaps arise, and you’ll need help getting your internet back up and running. It is important to find an internet service provider that is committed to customer satisfaction and making things right. The last thing anyone wants to deal with when their internet is down is poor customer service.
We can make finding the right internet service for your family easy! Contact us to get started!
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