The Internet is an essential resource, platform for entertainment, communication, business, work, and more. That’s why slow speeds are frustrating while paying too much is a problem of its own.

How do you find the right Internet service provider? Take the following factors into consideration:

Types of Internet Services

The best Internet providers are those that balance your needs for broadband with flexibility if higher speeds are desired. There are dozens of great providers though, so location is going to be a major factor. The general things to look for are:

  • DSL – Inexpensive Internet delivered through existing phone lines with speeds typically up to 25Mbps that’s generally available in most places across the States
  • Cable – Mid-level pricing for Internet delivered through a cable service (often bundled with TV and phone) that has speeds around 100Mbps though reaching 150+Mbps in larger areas
  • Satellite – A fallback type of option for those in rural areas not expecting much due to its usual 20Mbps speeds and likelihood of losing service due to the weather
  • Fiber – The stellar Internet service pushing 500Mbps to 1Gbps though it’ll come at a hefty price unless you’re in the few select cities offering FiOS from Google and a handful of others

For the price and speed, it’s generally cable that will be your best option. Yet, take account for your needs and considerations when selecting the type.
Other Provider Considerations

You may want a service provider that does more than just exist. There are plenty of other factors to consider when making your selection. Let’s take at a few.

  • Reliability – That service may not be so hot once you notice their service dipping in and out frequently. You can’t fault them for nature or accidents, but you should at least expect service to operate 99% of the time.
  • Customer service – In the event you do need to get in touch with them, will they be available? And if so, are they easy to handle? Check their reviews.
  • Add-ons – Perhaps the service comes with a login so you can connect to free, public WiFi or stream live TV from a web page. Some services may bundle privacy and home security!
  • Stance on net neutrality – Larger (and some small) providers have taken a stance againstnet neutrality so they may choose the quality of service based on user activity. Meaning that your favorite sites could slow down (throttling) and require more money to speed up the access.

For most, it will come down to the two basics of costs and speed but it’s worthwhile to consider the other factors if you have the option in service providers.

Comparing the Providers

The unfortunate reality is that desired internet providers aren’t always available in your area. Some areas are locked to two choices of local services with a third being the slower option via DSL or satellite. This isn’t to say you can’t find good deals in your area if you’re willing to negotiate but don’t go into it expecting one service to completely blow your socks off compared to the other. Simply put: vote with your wallet and use competition to force change and new standards. Here are a few questions to ask the providers:

  • Are there any specials?
  • How long is the contract (if there is one)?
  • What are your speeds?
  • Can I upgrade (or downgrade) my service?
  • What’s customer service like?

Your best bet is to either use a spreadsheet or paper drawn up with columns to check off and take notes about each of these items. This way you can get a good cross selection of what’s available. If you’re lazy and don’t want to deal with live chat or a phone call you could always use comparison websites.