6 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Internet Service Provider in 2020

Selecting an internet service provider is an important decision that will affect the way you work, play, learn, and communicate. In 2020 it's more difficult than ever to find the best internet deal


Updated for 2020:

February 25, 2020

Selecting an internet service provider is an important decision that will affect the way you work, play, learn, and communicate.  In the year 2020 the high-speed internet offerings from companies like AT&T, Spectrum, Xfinity, Centurylink, Rise Broadband, Viasat and Hughesnet can be pretty overwhelming and confusing.  From staying in touch to loved ones, to sending professional emails, to reading e-books, to binging Netflix, you use your internet connection for just about everything -- so you owe it to yourself to select a service that you can be happy with! 

1.Service Type Internet service providers use a variety of methods to get internet to your residence, and these methods all have their pros and cons. The four basic types of internet connection are known as DSL, Cable, Satellite, and Fiber Optic service. We will cover the details of these internet connection methods in an upcoming Bundle Your Internet blog article -- but for now, let's take a quick look at the basic advantages and disadvantages associated with each.

  • DSL tends to be affordable and very consistent, but is relatively slow. Believe it or not, many companies still offer DSL.  These companies include AT&T internet, Earthlink, Centurylink, Frontier, Windstream and several other smaller carriers. 
  • Cable internet is fast and widely available -- but can slow down during peak use hours. We all know most of the major players in the cable tv and internet space which include Xfinity (Comcast), Spectrum (Formerly Charter Spectrum, Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse Cable), Cox Communications, Mediacom, WOW, RCN, Windstream Telecom, and many many more.
  • Satellite Internet  This service is a great option for some but may be slightly more expensive than other services your are used to -- but it is available in many rural areas where other connection types do not reach.  For that reason Satellite services like Hughesnet and Viasat are great options.
  • Fiber Optic Service is stunningly fast and effective. The only drawback is that is a new technology that is only available in limited areas. Companies like AT&T, Verizon, Centurylink, Earthlink, Windstream, Metronet and Frontier offer this type of service.
2.Download and Upload Speed The rate at which you download and upload data will play a large role in determining your user experience. That being said, many people end up paying for speeds that they never actually need. A good point of reference? Netflix recommends a download speed of between .7 and 5.3 mbps for anyone hoping to stream a movie. In terms of upload speed, an HD video-calling requires about 1.2 mbps. (Though regular high-quality video calling can be done with about .4 mbps of upload speed.)

3.Cost and Contract. The cost and fees charged by various internet service providers in your area will clearly play an important role in determining the right internet company for you. Taking the contract length and general terms of service into account is also smart, even though this might not be as obvious a point as price comparison.  The typical length of contract for a cable/fiber/DSL internet provider is 0-12 months.  The typical length of a satellite internet provider is 24 months

4.Equipment. Unless you own a router and a modem, you will need to rent this equipment from an internet service provider. The good news? Bundling equipment with your internet service can help save you a pretty penny on each of these necessities.  You can typically count on a $5-$20 charge on top of the advertised price for equipment like a router or a modem.

5.Reliability. Research internet provider uptimes in your area. (Not even the fastest download speed is worth it if it only works 50% of the time!) In general, customer reviews taken from your geographical region can provide a good insight into the pros and cons of each internet company.  Other factors can come into play when it comes into reliability, like type of service and the weather.  Lines that are buried underground like fiber tend to have less disruption than lets say a service like HughesNet or Viasat which may be affected by the wether.    

6.Customer Support. Even the best internet companies experience problems from time to time -- and sometimes, internet problems can be caused by your own mistakes such as a poorly configured modem. This is why you should look for a company that offers quality customer service.  I think we can all agree that cable companies have a bad reputation for customer service.  The truth is they all are striving to provide the best service possible but often times the experience depends on the representative you get on the phone.  You can have a completely different experience from one phone call to the next depending on the tone and experience of the agent you are speaking with.  I have called Xfinity to complain and hung up on the first rep, only to call back and be received by a warm and friendly representative who was able to help with my internet connectivity issue in seconds.   Once again, reviews are a good way of getting to the bottom of this question. For more information on finding the best internet service provider in your area, visit Bundle Your Internet online today!