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Choosing an ISP

Friday, July 28th, 2006 by | Filed Under: Uncategorized
 
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Q:
I’m thinking about changing my ISP, but I want to make sure I find one that is reliable and can meet all my needs. What are some things I should look for?

A:
Choosing an ISP is very important, because they will have a hand in controlling all your Internet activities once you’re all hooked up and connected. There are some things you should think about before taking the plunge and signing up with a certain company. Below is a small list of some of those things.

As stated in the question, it’s so pertinent to find an ISP that is reliable. Reliability is probably the single most important factor when choosing an ISP, because as I said earlier, they will be the ones controlling your Internet usage. Even if the ISP you choose is cheaper than some of the others around your area, if they’re not dependable when you’re trying to connect to the Internet, it doesn’t matter. You will spend more time on the phone with them trying to straighten things out and it’s just not worth all of that hassle.

If you’re thinking about going with a discount ISP or even a free one, you may want to rethink that. Those types of ISPs have major connectivity issues, along with several other problems that can occur. It’s a good idea to check the company with the Better Business Bureau’s reliability report before you sign anything. Here’s a Web site you can check out to do that.

Another thing you’ll want to ask when looking for an ISP is their modem to customer ratio. If one has a lot of customers, but few modems, you’ll run into trouble that way too. Also, make sure you find out if the ISP is directly linked to the Internet’s backbone, because if they’re not, you’ll have to deal with router switches, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask all of these questions. It’s your money and you need to be happy with your choice in the end.

Next, ask about the ISP’s speed reputation. There’s actually a site you can visit to do a little homework on that before you call any companies. Go here (a CNET Web site), enter in your area code and the type of Internet connection you’re looking for (cable, DSL, dial-up, etc.) and you will get a bandwidth reading in mere seconds. It will give you the scoop on typical download speeds of the ISP as well. You can then compare the ISPs available for your local area and narrow your choices down to the one you think will be best for you.

One last thing you can do to choose an ISP is listen to word of mouth. I’m sure several people in your neighborhood have an Internet connection, so talk to them and see who they use. Just listen around and I’m sure you’ll hear some pros and cons of the different providers in your area. Ask your friends certain questions like: are you satisfied with your provider, how long have you been with them, how often is the service unavailable, are there extra access numbers, how is the ISP’s technical support, etc?

Asking the right questions and doing a little research will help you find the ISP that will meet all of your needs and make your Internet experience so much better!

~ Erin

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