Even though the Internet got its start in the 1960s, the technology wasn’t made available to the general public until 1991. Still, few people had the means or inclination to hop on the World Wide Web. At the time only a select number of people were aware of the potential the Internet possessed and how it could transform the way we live and work.
The Internet didn’t go mainstream until 1993. That was the year CERN, the company that World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee worked for, announced that the Internet was free to use and develop. From there, things took off with a trajectory no one could have anticipated.
Now getting access to the Internet isn’t an issue of service availability but rather how to find the best Internet providers. There are so many providers it’s hard for consumers not to get lost in all of the offers. Really, choosing the best Internet provider comes down to four things.
Who Provides Service in Your Area
The easiest way to narrow the selection is to find out which Internet providers serve your area. This can actually vary from one neighborhood to the next in a city. There are some online resources that can help you determine which companies can provide Internet service, but you may also be able to check with your local municipality for the latest provider list.
The Price Per Mbps
Mbps stands for Megabits per second. It indicates the speed of the Internet service. The higher the Mbps are the faster your Internet will be. However, the Mbps can have a significant impact on cost.
One of the best ways to compare the cost and value of Internet plans is to calculate the price per Mbps, similar to the way a home has a price per square foot. Simply divide the monthly rate by the number of Mbps. You’ll also need to carefully consider the speed you realistically need. Plans with the highest Mbps may be overkill, and you’ll end up paying more than you need.
Today, some providers offer a range of speeds while others only offer a few options. To provide a little more direction in determining what Internet speed you need, here are a few common Mbps examples:
- 1 Mbps is needed for basic broadband connection and uses such as checking your email.
- 3 Mbps is needed for streaming movies in standard quality.
- 5 Mbps is needed to stream and watch HD quality movies.
- 50 Mbps or more could be needed for those who frequently download huge files.
Keep in mind if you have multiple Internet users in a house you’ll probably need to up the speed.
At one time everyone lived without the Internet. Today, many of the things we’re used to doing are impossible without it. Anytime your Internet service goes down it’s an aggravation. But for people that use electronic medical device or work from home, there can be serious problems when Internet service goes down.
A major factor in Internet reliability is how the Internet service is delivered. Right now there are four common delivery methods:
- DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) – Delivered through a telephone line.
- Cable – Delivered via cable through a cable provider.
- Satellite – Delivered through a satellite service.
- Fiber-optic (FiOS) – Delivered by a fiber optic line similar to the way DSL is provided.
Right now, fiber-optic service offers the best speeds and are typically very well priced, but it’s not available in many areas. The best reliability tends to come from cable Internet service, but it can also be pricey.
Customer Service and Support
Like any home service, you’ll want your Internet provider to take customer satisfaction seriously. If you do run into issues, how promptly the company addresses the issue is a big consideration. Your provider should also have a dedicated 24/7 support team that can handle technical issues.
To get a better idea of the quality of an Internet Provider’s customer service and support, read online reviews from real customers. Make note of problems people had and if they were happy with the way their provider handled the situation.