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WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN ISP

  • Service!  Test their help desk – how long to get through, can they answer your questions
  • Contact terms and conditions
  • Onsite Installation of wifi router
  • Cost
  • Contract lengths
  • Added bonuses (free hardware, etc)

STATS from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), media release 11:30 Canberra 09/04/2013 cat. no. 8153.0

http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10things/10-things-to-look-for-in-an-isp/1766

http://isp-review.toptenreviews.com/

http://lifehacker.com/how-do-i-choose-the-best-internet-service-provider-480869389

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there were 12.2 million internet subscribers in Australia at the end of December 2012. This represents an increase of 1% since the end of June 2012 and an annual growth of 5%. With million and millions of internet subscribers all over the world, we find that Internet Service Providers have become a major part of our lives. Finding the PERFECT ISP or Internet Service Provider is as easy as finding a unicorn. While many do not realize this dream, most of us hold on to it and try instead to find the best ISP we can get. Here are a few points to ponder as you embark in your quest for finding the best Internet Service Provider for you.

AVAILABILITY

You must first ask yourself “what type of Internet Service is available to me?” Consider the type of Internet Service that is available in your area. Do you want to get a DSL connection since you already have an existing phone line? Are you going to get a Cable connection in tandem with your Cable TV subscription? Do you live in an area where fixed line connection and mobile connections are impossible to get and your only option is getting a Satellite connection? Ask around, check what kind of Internet connection is available in your location. You can learn more about the different types of Internet connections in our last article. (insert link to Ch8: Getting onto the Internet article). Generally, you have more options if you live in or near urban areas.

SERVICE

And then we get to the nitty gritty of it…which ISP provides the best service. After you’ve scouted and checked for Internet connections available in your area, it’s time to drill down to the details. Let’s start with speed.

You will have to compare both download and upload speeds. for A useful link is Speedtest.net’s Net Index where you’ll see the ranking of major ISPs in your location. Most subscribers get an ADSL connection where the download speed is faster than the upload speed but for businesses who use VPNs or regularly backup up very large files to the cloud, consider a SDSL connection (where download equals upload speed). Be careful about this parameter, most ISPs overpromise and underdeliver. Speeds vary with location so you may have to do some sleuthing and ask the opinion of neighbors to get a feel of which ISP delivers the best speed. Some sleuthing really does pay off. I would have been stuck with a crappy ISP had it not been for my friendly neighborhood hairdresser who said that they’ve had a lot of problems with the cable ISP I’ve been eyeing and that I’m better off getting someone else. True enough, almost everyone in our neighborhood was subscribed to this ISP and since Cable ISPs share available bandwidth with everyone in the vicinity – internet service is very, very slooooow.

RELIABILITY

Reliability is also an issue and downtime is a reality that all of us have to face. You have to consider how easy it is to get help. Does the ISP offer 24/7 support? How easy is it to get in touch with their help desk? How many various ways can you contact them (phone, chat, email)? How fast can they send a tech to provide on-site support?

CONTRACT TERMS

Contract Terms will tell you how long you’d have to be with a particular ISP or in many cases, how long you’re going to be stuck with their service. It’s may be a short term commitment but a commitment nonetheless. Make sure you’re very clear on their terms of services by asking questions like “do they have operational guarantees” “will a tech be available for on-site repairs 24/7?” or “what happens when service fails: do you receive credit off your bill?”. Address these issues before you decide on an ISP because your ISP will be a part of your life from now on.

ISPs throw in a couple of freebies when they want to get your attention. Mine actually offers 5 email addresses with 4MB of mail space each, along with email forwarding services and 5MB of webspace. I don’t use it. I don’t need it. I’m better off with other webmail providers (gmail and yahoo). What could be helpful though is if my ISP provided security software, offered parental controls and gave free Wi-Fi hotspot access.

Speaking of freebies, some ISPs offer free installation while others charge. The degree of difficulty of the installation process depends on the type of Internet Service you avail of.  Cable connections work over TV wires while DSL connections work over phone lines. Cable and DSL connections are pretty easy to install since the infrastructure is already existing. However, satellite connections require special equipment, relatively longer installation process not to mention more expensive equipment investment.

COST

Finally we come to one of the, if not, THE most important factor to consider: the cost. You may have decided that you want a super-powered, faster-than-the-speed-of-light high speed connection with everything plus the kitchen sink. The question is: can you afford it? Remember, there are other costs to consider aside from monthly subscription. You may be paying for: installation, modem rental, extra cables, service calls etc. After looking at each ISP and finding, ceteris paribus, that you have exhausted all points of comparison – the cost of the service can become the deciding factor.