Confused by how many different types of Internet access currently available on the market? You're not alone. With new technologies emerging seemingly every day, and with Internet speeds – and access fees – growing at a similar pace, it can be tough to figure out how to search for the Internet service that best fits your needs and budget.
Let's take a look at three of the most important criteria on which to base your ISP choice in order to help you make sure you are getting the best deal on Internet service.
ISPs love to sell you on the idea that speed is king, but more of a good thing isn't always a better thing. You need to determine what your actual Internet habits are before deciding how much bandwidth you really need. Do you just surf the web and check email for an hour or less a day? If so, any broadband package above 5 Mbps is going to suit you just fine. Do you crave HD video and constantly download music and other media? If so, then a service of 10 Mbps or higher is right for you.
Don't pay for more Internet than you need. There's no need to park a Ferrari in your driveway when a Honda will do the job.
Wireless Internet access is handy, but when networks get jammed up with users, or when you are in an area with poor service the inability to connect can result in hair-pulling and groans all around. Broadband wireless connections can also sometimes be quite pricey in comparison to their wired equivalents.
DSL and cable service are typically much less fickle and more affordable, but make sure to read user reviews of your local ISPs before committing in order to make sure that you aren't signing up with a service that is known to be a problem. Fiber optic Internet connections, such as Verizon FIOS are typically at the apex of the reliability spectrum, but they come with a higher cost than some of their competitors.
Beware lengthy contracts that are sweetened by low prices for the first few months of service before hitting your with two or three years of onerous “regular” pricing. You also want to make sure that the price for Internet service isn't being piggybacked by equipment rental charges or network access fees. Ask specific questions about all of the fees associated with a service contract before signing on the dotted line.
You should also beware of ISPs that want to bundle your Internet with another type of service that you aren't interested in. You shouldn't have to pay for cable TV, a second cell phone or an alarm system simply to get an affordable rate on Internet access. Don't let them tell you it's cheaper to pay for two services instead of just one.