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A Comprehensive Guide to Searching for the Best Internet Provider

The ongoing global pandemic has pushed many people to work from the comfort of their homes. This arrangement isn’t just a one-time thing, though. A report from Small Business Trends revealed that 67 percent of businesses expect work from home to be permanent

If you see yourself working from home for months (or years) to come, you’ll need to sign up with the best internet provider to help you get the job done quickly and effectively. 

The problem is that a lot of companies are claiming to provide reliable and fast internet service. How do you pick the one that’s right for you? 

Take note of this guide to help you select the ideal ISP for your home. 

How to Choose the Best Internet Provider

The United States has more than 2000 internet service providers, making the search for the best internet provider a bit difficult. Don’t worry, though. 

When you’re looking for an ISP, consider these factors:

Availability

This is a major deciding factor for individuals living in a rural location. When you want the best internet provider for gaming and work, your preferred option may not be available. You’ll usually have just a few options, such as a 4G-LTE network, a broadband connection and a satellite internet option. 

Speed

As a remote worker, you must make sure that you have sufficient speed necessary to participate in Zoom meetings, download and upload files, check e-mails and perform other work-related tasks. 

When looking for the best internet provider, check the bandwidth offered by ISPs. Bandwidth describes the maximum data transfer rate of an internet or network connection. It gauges the amount of data sent over a particular connection in a specific period. 

Your location in the country may affect your bandwidth. If you’re in the rural region, for instance, you may have to contend with a 3 to 6 Megabits (Mbps) DSL connection. On the other hand, you could enjoy a bandwidth of more than 1000 Mbps if you have access to a fiber connection. 

Another thing to remember is that the speed advertised by internet service providers may not be the exact speed you’ll be receiving. Before you sign up with an ISP, ask your neighbors about the internet connection in their area. This way, you’ll know the kind of speed you can realistically expect. 

Reliability 

An unreliable and inconsistent internet is both counterproductive and stressful. If you’re working in an industry that can’t afford internet service interruptions, such as customer service, you’ll want an ISP that provides a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This term refers to a service contract that states the reliability of an internet connection. 

Cost

Internet connection types and service providers vary widely in cost. On one end of the spectrum, you can enjoy lightning-fast gigabit speeds when you agree to pay $100 a month or more. 

If you’re on a budget, however, you could settle for the cheapest plan. This typically costs about $20 a month with a speed of 10 Mbps. Although this may be enough for standard web browsing, it may be too slow for bandwidth-intensive tasks

Billing and Payment

Some billing statements are difficult to understand, while others are short and straight to the point. You may want to rethink signing up with an internet service provider if you hear news about charging customers fees that come with little to no explanation. Also, you’ll want an ISP that offers easy-to-read bills and provides multiple payment options, such as paper checks and Apple Pay.

What are the Internet Service Providers Out There?

Some ISPs stand out among the rest. Here are a few of the best internet providers you could choose from:

Xfinity

This Comcast-owned internet service provider offers two fiber internet and six cable plans. Fiber internet connection is available in some regions for $299 a month. This, however, offers speeds up to 2 Gbps. 

Customers looking for a more affordable option can opt for cable plans. Prices start as low as $29.99 per month. It comes with an upload speed of up to 2 Mbps and a download speed of up to 15 Mbps. 

AT&T

One of the strong suits of AT&T is its reliability. The company claims to deliver a reliability rate of more than 99 percent for its fiber optic internet connection, even during peak usage periods. If you want to sign up to get reliable and fast internet service from this company, you’ll need to sign a contract (either one or two years) to take advantage of the awesome deals.  

Spectrum

Another best internet provider that you could consider is Spectrum by Charter Communications. The ISP offers a standard, no-contract plan that comes with upload speeds of 10 Mbps and download speeds of 100 Mbps. New subscribers enjoy a fee of $49.99 per month for one year. 

You’ll enjoy a lot of extras when you sign up with Spectrum. You get access to a nationwide network of Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as free anti-virus software and modem. 

Suggestions When Changing Your Internet Service Provider

Switching internet providers is a hassle, as you have to contend with pressure from retention agents and termination fees that can drain your wallet. If you’ve decided to cancel your subscription with your current ISP and jump to what you think is the best internet provider in your area, take note of these suggestions:

Understand Why You’re Switching ISPs

Knowing the specific reasons to jump to another provider will help you avoid going through the trouble and the cost of changing only to end up in a similar (or worse) situation. 

If you have more than one reason for changing providers, prioritize them according to importance. This will help you choose the best internet provider for your needs. 

Determine the Cancellation or Early Termination Costs

If you signed a contract with your current internet service provider, you could pay up a fee for terminating the subscription early. Make sure you weigh in this cost when canceling, especially if saving money is your primary reason for changing ISPs.

Get in Touch with Your Current ISPs for Deals and Promotions

Internet providers prefer not to lose customers, so they may provide a great deal to get you to stay. If your ISP offers a retention deal, compare that to what the other companies are offering and see if it’s advantageous for you. 

Choosing the best internet provider for you won’t be easy. Before you make any decision, consult this informative guide to assess your home’s need for a quality internet package.