Things to Consider Before Switching Home Internet Providers

Things to Consider Before Switching Home Internet Providers

If you're looking to get out of your current contract and switch home internet providers, explore these important factors to consider.

Things to Consider Before Switching Home Internet Providers?

Internet use has grown exponentially over the past two decades. Chances are, you're part of the 110 million U.S. households with an internet connection right now. The web completely transformed how people communicate, work, and pay their bills.

From looking up urgent driving directions to working from home, having a reliable internet connection has never been more vital in today's society. Homeowners even rely on internet-based smart home technology to manage utilities and beef up their security. Parents depend on home internet providersto power their kids' wifi-connected tablets and games.

As your internet needs grow, you need an ISP that can keep up with growing demands. You don't have time to deal with constant video buffering, disconnections, downtime, and slow-loading webpages. It's critical to explore all your internet options to find the best deal for your money.

Finding the right home internet provider starts with asking the right questions. Here are several questions to ask when searching for a new provider.

What Home Internet Providers Are Available In My Area?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a home internet provider. The first point to consider is availability. Your internet options are strictly limited to providers that service your area.

There are a couple ways to start your search. You can type in your zipcode and see all the available ISPs in your area, or you can visit a particular ISP's page and search by zipcode there.

You'll notice that some areas have more ISP options than others. Denser, metropolitan areas, like San Francisco, have more available cable and DSL ISPs than rural communities.

A house, apartment, or property must reside within a certain distance from a provider's service equipment. Since many rural homes are too far away from a cable and DSL service equipment, they use high-speed satellite internet instead. If your only choice is satellite internet, your limited to two choices: HughesNet and ViaSat.

Homes with access to Cable and DSL internet have more options available. Use your zip code to discover if these top internet providers are available in your service area:

  • WOW! Cable
  • Rise Broadband
  • Windstream Internet
  • Frontier
  • Xfinity
  • AT&T
  • CenturyLink
  • Spectrum

Even if cable and DSL providers do service your area, you can always opt for high-speed satellite internet if you prefer. Satellite internet is available in all 50 states.

What Is the Pricing Structure Like?

Once you've narrowed down the ISP choices in your area, your next question is price. Some ISPs provide a wider variety of monthly plans, services, and payment options. You'll notice that some providers are more expensive than others too.

Home internet providers typically price their monthly plan in tiers. The higher the tier, the better the quality. Take, for example, CenturyLink: plans start at $49 a month for 20 to 40 Mbps and increase to $55 a month for speeds up to 140 Mbps.

Think about your needs when researching ISP prices. For example, if you only use the internet for web browsing and YouTube videos, you could get away with the lowest-tier plan with a smaller data cap. If you're a gamer or work from home, you may need an unlimited data plan.

Do you want internet and TV? Consider a monthly bundle plan. This is a popular option for families. These plans are more expensive but often come with higher internet speeds and generous channel packages.

TV and internet bundle providers price their monthly plans by speed and additional services. For example, WoW! Cable packages start at around $89.00 for 100 Mbps and over 130 channels and increase to $114 month for 500 Mbps internet speeds.

Many ISPs require contracts for service, with some as long as two years. This means you're committed to stay with your ISP until your contract is up. If you don't want to stay tied to one provider, many ISPs, like Frontier, have no-contract plans.

How Fast Is the Internet Connection?

If you want high-speed internet, learn how internet speeds work since most monthly plans are priced by speed. Consider everything from your needs to the number of people in your household. The more connected devices you have, the more bandwidth you'll need.

Here are a few rules of thumb to remember:

If you're using just one or two connected devices for web browsing, email, social media, and occasional video streaming, you'll need at least 20 to 25 Mbps per month.

Moderate to heavy video streaming and gaming would need at least 50 Mbps, but 100 Mbps is more reliable. Heavy internet use, including 4K+ video streaming, gaming, and large volume downloading.

If you have multiple people in your household, you'll need enough speed to accommodate several devices and varying degrees of internet activity.

Are There Any Data Limits and Caps?

Data limits can also impact your internet speed. Data caps aren't uncommon, and several ISPs price their monthly plans by speed and data limits. Top ISPs with data limit plans include HughesNet, CenturyLink, Viasat, AT&T, and Xfinity.

Your zip code may be limited to only data limit plans, as well. Like choosing internet speeds, you need to assess your needs when selecting the right data caps. For example, Viasat's Unlimited plans start at $70 for 60 GB of data, $100 per month for 100 GB of data, and up from there.

If you go over your data limit, your internet speed may slow down or be limited. Overage charges may also apply. Choose a data limit that gives you enough wiggle room each month.

You also need to consider whether or not you need a landline phone. This service may be included with a plan or cost an additional fee. Phone lines are often included in large internet and TV bundles.

Is the Home Internet Connection Secure?

Internet security has never been more critical. Thankfully, top home internet providers password-protect home networks. This information is typically printed on the back of your internet modem equipment.

After installing your modem and router, your connected devices should automatically recognize your internet network. Your network name should match the information included on your equipment. Next, type in the provided password to log onto the web.

Your ISP-provided password is composed of scrambled numbers and letters. However, you can set your own home network password in your network settings. Create a strong password that's hard to guess.

If you're hooking up internet for the first time, an ISP technician will likely visit your home and set up your internet for you. They can also help you set up your network name and password.

For added security, your ISP will likely recommend an internet security software. Cybersecurity software protects your web browser and computer from malicious software, viruses, ransomware, and more threats.

There are also ISPs like CenturyLink that offer wifi with built-in security. CenturyLink provides customers with a secure internet gateway that protects against malware, botnet attacks, and viruses. Use your zip code to find out if CenturyLink offers this service in your area.

Extra security is essential for ISP customers with smart home technology. The more connected devices you have, like computers and smart home thermometers, the greater the need for internet security. You don't want hackers breaking into your home remotely.

Do I Need Any Equipment?

Equipment is always required to access the internet at home. You'll need at least an internet modem and router for cable and DSL connections. For high-speed satellite internet, you'll need to buy an additional Viasat or HughesNet satellite dish.

Internet equipment is easy to install. You can always have an ISP technician handle everything for you. The cost of your equipment is typically covered in your first month's payment.

You're not always limited to your ISP's equipment either. You can upgrade to a higher quality modem or router, as long as it's compatible with your ISP service. You may need to call your ISP to help you connect your internet over the phone.

If you decide to switch to a new home internet provider, you may be required to send your equipment back to the original ISP. There's also the option of dropping off your equipment at your ISP's retail location.

How Do I Connect to the Internet

Connecting to the internet should not be difficult with the right ISP. If you're frequently having a hard time logging on, that may be a red flag to switch to a new provider. It shouldn't take more than a few seconds to log onto your network and surf the web.

Test our your connection by visiting a popular homepage to see if it loads. There are also sites that test your website speed for you. If you're not happy with your web surfing speed, consider upgrading your monthly plan or switching to a new home internet provider.

What If There's a Problem with My Connection?

If your device isn't recognizing your home network name, try restarting your device, modem, and router. If the problem persists, call your ISP's customer service line. They may need to reconfigure your connection remotely.

If your password isn't working, you'll need to call your ISP immediately in case your connection is compromised. If your connection keeps dropping, there may be some interference that's obstructing the connection. Your ISP's technician can visit your home and inspect your wiring for any connection problems.

A hallmark of a top ISP is 24/7 assistance for troubleshooting. While field technicians work within specified service windows, a remote agent can walk you through troubleshooting steps on the phone. If you're frequently having issues getting the help you need, consider another internet provider in your area.

Your connection issues may be related to your home's electrical wiring. This is a common problem for homeowners who are unfamiliar with their home's wiring. If you're still having problems connecting to the internet, you may need to call a general electrician.

Are There Any Internet Deals and Specials?

You want to save every dollar you can. Fortunately, you can use special offers, deals, and discounts to keep your internet costs down. These offers are typically limited to new customers only or the first six months of service.

Most top ISPs offer deals. Specials are an excellent opportunity to try out an internet and TV bundle at a fraction of the cost. Plus, stay on the lookout for deals that apply to longtime customers, as well.

ISPs advertise special deals on their websites, but they also send out exclusive deals by mail. You may even score a deal on the phone while researching your options.

With a special offer, you could get monthly high-speed internet for under $40 or even additional services for free. These deals don't last, so you have to pounce on them when they're available.

Does the Home Internet Provider Have Customer Service

As more homeowners become dependent on the internet, stellar customer service is essential. Even when a connection goes down due to a storm, you need an ISP that picks up the phone when you call. An ISP that ignores your concerns is a big red flag.

If there isn't a retail location nearby, make sure your ISP is easily accessible in other ways. Your ISP should be available by phone, email, online chat, and in person. Friendly and reliable customer service is critical if you work from home.

Your ISP should also follow up to make sure an issue is resolved. They should also clearly communicate when there are outages in your area. Most ISPs will notify customers about outages when they call or have an outage map online.

Discover the Right ISP for Your Needs

You're just one step away from switching to a new ISP. Don't settle for home internet providers that don't accommodate your internet needs. Follow this guide to find an ISP that offers your preferred level of speed, bundled services, availability, and customer service. 

Are you ready to compare providers in your area? Get started by plugging in your zip code or call one of our internet experts to find the ideal plan for you.