With Spectrum internet service, you can enjoy extremely speedy internet (over 940 Mbps on some plans) and no data caps. Boasts a wide coverage area throughout the country. You can bundle services, or choose from internet-only plans. Above average customer service rating for dealing with internet issues. Modem included; no contract plans available.
Plans often start out at low teaser rates; however, customers gripe about rate hikes when they expire. Getting another promotional rate is often not possible.
Very low starting prices on plans. Surprises with pricing are rare, as it is clear and easy to understand. No-contract options are available with 2-year rate lock. Coverage area is reasonably wide, and plans up to a gigabyte are available. Low rental fees for equipment.
Not the fastest internet available. Customer service and satisfaction rank a bit below average compared to some other top internet service providers.
Offers satellite internet connection in areas where broadband and cable are not available. Plans come at decent price points. Updated Gen5 service is speedier than previous versions – up to 25 Mbps. Different data plans available, plus data is free between the hours of 2 and 8 a.m.
Some data limits apply. Customer service and overall satisfaction falls below average. Slow compared to other types of internet connections.
Offers Fios – Verizon's fiber-optic network – in some areas that delivers up to a gigabyte connection for extremely fast web surfing, gaming, streaming, and more. Also has DSL plans. Discounts for 2- or 3-year contracts or service bundles may be available. Company has a fairly high customer service rating.
The downside to Verizon's fiber-optic network is that it's only available in a few states at this time. Connectivity of DSL is slow on the low-priced end, and can get pricey if you need faster speeds.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
You probably don't have a landline for your phone, and you don't get a daily newspaper delivered to your house anymore. Also, odds are you've either cut the cord or you’re considering cutting it. That means, having an internet service provider is no longer a luxury; it has become a necessity.
The internet is how we communicate with each other, get our news, and consume our entertainment. Because of this, it is essential that you find an internet service provider that can give you and your family everything you want (and need) at a price you can afford.
However, most people don’t feel comfortable shopping for an internet service provider. In fact, many individuals might not even be able to tell you exactly what an ISP is. Throughout this article, we’ve provided information ranging from common mistakes to avoid when choosing an internet service provider to tips that can help you get better service. Our goal is to make you a confident consumer who is empowered to choose the best internet service provider for your needs.
The most important element to keep in mind when shopping for an internet service provider is that everyone needs something a little different. In many ways it's like transportation. If you live in New York City, walking is a great way to get around. In fact, owning a car in Manhattan can be more of a burden than a convenience. However, if you live in California, it's pretty much impossible to get around without a vehicle.
Before shopping for an internet service provider, you must understand the difference between what you want and what you need. Then you have to decide how much you’re willing to pay for the features that aren't essential to your needs. The following are the key elements to consider when choosing an internet service provider.
When it comes to internet service, it all comes down to speed. Although internet speed is measured by the megabits (Mbps) or gigabits (Gbps) transferred in one second, it makes more sense to think of speed as fuel. An individual who only drives a few miles each week doesn't need much fuel. On the other hand, a family of six, all of whom have their own vehicle and drive over a thousand miles each month, has a much greater need for fuel.
If you live alone and only use the internet for email and browsing the web, you might be able to get by with speeds as low as 5 Mbps. If you live with someone and you like to stream high-definition movies or you work at home, you're going to want a plan that offers at least 25 Mbps. If you have a family that includes gamers, you may need as much as 100 Mbps.
An internet service provider brings internet service to your home. However, in order to take advantage of that service, you need certain pieces of equipment (at least a modem and probably a router). Some internet service providers require you to rent their equipment, which ends up costing much more than purchasing it. Most, however, are compatible with third-party products. If you already own equipment, it’s important to determine if that equipment will work with your new service. If it doesn't, you'll have to buy new equipment or rent it from your internet service provider.
As soon as you connect to the internet, the internet connects to you. Information flows both ways. Therefore, it’s vital that you ask your potential internet service provider what type of security options are available. You also want to find out if those options are part of your package or if you have to pay extra for your privacy and protection.
Once you have it, internet service is something you depend on nearly 24/7. If there is an interruption in service or you have a problem, it’s important to know if that problem will typically be resolved in a matter of hours or days. Do not overlook the importance of a company that offers outstanding customer service.
For many customers, price is the primary concern. While we believe many other elements trump price, it’s definitely an important factor. Many sites advise against locking into a limited contract or taking advantage of a special offer. Our advice is if the terms are good, you understand them fully, you honestly benefit from them, and they are finite, why not take advantage of what you’re being offered? When you think of it in a more traditional way, it would be like saying, "No, thank you, I don't want the sale price. I'd like to pay more."
When your contract runs out or the promotion is over, you will have the option to renegotiate or find a new internet service provider. Often, the provider you’re with will negotiate to keep you as a customer. However, we cannot stress the fact enough that you must read all of the fine print and know exactly what you’re getting into and how long the terms are for this to potentially be a good thing. Otherwise, it’s better to stay away from contracts that lock you into a particular service.
There are three main ways to research internet service providers: check what's available in your area, read the reviews, and ask your neighbors.
Not every internet service provider offers service in every location. Before getting too excited about a company (or a particular plan), check to make sure it is indeed available in your region. Also, check to make sure that the stated price is available in your area as well.
There will always be glowing reviews that you can't fully trust and angry reviews that you probably shouldn't trust. Somewhere in the middle you'll find the truth. When reading reviews, focus on the ones that are written from an objective point of view and offer a well-balanced and rational look at the service.
Since internet service can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, asking the people on your street how happy they are with their internet service provider can be the best tool you have for finding the right provider for your needs. Just remember, though, everyone's internet service needs are different, and what is perfect for your neighbor might not be perfect for you.
When it comes to internet speeds, there are a lot of variables. Everything from how many devices you have connected to your home network to how many of your neighbors are using the internet can drastically diminish your internet speeds. Unless an internet service provider specifically guarantees a speed, the internet speed you’re paying for is more of a possibility than a promise.
Most companies do not include installation costs, cancellation fees, or other fine-print items when quoting a price. Alternatively, some might offer an attractively priced basic package that doesn't give you everything that you need. By the time you add in the à la carte items, you may wind up paying much more than you originally planned.
Everyone likes to have the best. However, if you're paying for 300 Mbps and you only need 100 Mbps, you’re wasting several hundred dollars each year on something you never use.
Even if you have a great internet service with a sufficient amount of speed, there can be times when the internet isn't working with the efficiency you've come to expect. When that happens, take a moment to run through this short checklist to see if you can improve your situation.
Q. What is a data cap?
A. A data cap is a monthly limit on the amount of data that you can use. Once you exceed that limit, the cost of using data can increase dramatically. Some providers do not limit your access but instead throttle your speed. For peace of mind, a plan with unlimited data (no data cap), is preferred by many users. However, if you don’t use a lot of data, an unlimited data plan may be an unnecessary expense.
Q. Is there a simpler way to determine how much speed I need?
A. If you're reading this on your computer at home, that means you already have an internet service provider and you’re either looking for one with better service or one that is more affordable. If that’s the case, determining the speed you need is pretty simple. All you have to do is ask yourself if you’re happy with the speed you have now. If the answer is yes, then get the same speed (or slower, if you feel you have bandwidth to spare). However, if you’re plagued by buffering while streaming movies and TV shows and you can't enjoy playing video games, you're probably going to want more speed than your current plan offers.
Q. My current internet service provider says I have speeds of up to 100 Mbps. How do I know what speed I am actually getting?
A. Every major internet service provider has an online speed test. If you don't feel comfortable taking the speed test at your current internet service provider, take one from another provider or an independent site (speed tests are free and only take about a minute). Be sure to take the test under normal conditions and at a few different times throughout the day. Speed varies depending on a number of factors, so this will give you a better picture of your actual internet speed.