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How to choose an Internet Service Provider

Pick the perfect ISP

Picking the best Internet provider can be tricky. Here is a list of tips to help you narrow down the search. Finding the perfect Internet provider can be tougher than finding the ideal pair of shoes these days. With special offers, bonuses, unlimited this and that, the whole idea can be daunting and leave you exhausted. Here are some tips to help you find the best provider for your needs.

Woman selecting ISPStep 1: Understanding an Internet Service Provider (ISP)

An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company that connects you to the Internet through different data transmission technology (dial-up, DSL, cable, or high-speed). To access the Internet from your home you will need to have an ISP.

Step 2: Assess your needs

You might be swayed by the ads, but do you really need to have all the bells and whistles? Will you be using it for personal reasons, small business reasons, or a larger business? Will you need a high-speed connection (for downloading music, movies, viewing images and videos online), or will you be doing very little (just checking emails, a few sites) and can get by with a dial-up or cable connection? Figure out your needs and then you will be set to make a decision about which provider will work best, what package you should be choosing, and how much you will be spending each month. Prices will vary greatly depending on what type of connection you choose.

Step 3: Shop around with a list of questions

You shouldn't just blindly go into signing on with an Internet provider – a little research will go a long way in helping you make an appropriate decision. Create a list of questions/needs and talk to as many providers as you can.

Some questions to think about:

  • Will it be high-speed, cable, DSL, or dial-up?
  • What are the price differences and different capabilities?
  • What is the ISP's history of reliability (a Google search will probably lead you to some forums that have customer feedback)?
  • What will the space (MB) be?
  • Will you have access to email addresses for this domain? How many?
  • Will you have FTP access?
  • Is there access to support or technical teams in times of need?

Step 4: Talk to current customers

Find out who is using what and ask them about the services they are receiving. Some might say they have no troubles at all, while others might tell a different story. It's a good idea to see how happy ISP customers are before purchasing.

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