How to Compare Internet Service Providers

The thing about comparing internet service providers is that the right choice for you doesn’t always come out to being the biggest, fastest or cheapest plan. Often times it’ll be a mix of these things that end up giving you the best internet experience.

7 Things to Compare Between Internet Providers

Below is a list of all the things that you might compare from one ISP to another. I wanted to go through each one in a little more detail so you have a better understanding of how to let it impact your decision.

Price

Price is one of the first things that people look at when comparing ISPs. You can’t blame anyone for it either, as a $5 or $10 difference adds up over time.

At the same time though, price can’t be the only thing you consider. One internet service plan might be $20 and another is for $50. The $20 plan sounds great until you realize that it’s connection isn’t nearly as good, doesn’t come with as many freebies or it has received horrible complaints from customers in the past.

$20 doesn’t sound like such a deal anymore, does it?

The point is that you need to weigh all the details that make up a plan (that fits your needs and budget) and compare that to another similar plan. Just don’t jump up and signup for a program because it’s the cheapest (or more expensive if you’re that type of person). This is the fastest way to becoming unhappy with your service.

Promotions

ISP promotions are deals or discounts that will give you a special price on your internet plan for so many months, or maybe upgrade you on your package.

My advice is not to go out and just find the best promotion and run with that. You need to remember that promotions are only good for 3, 6 or 12 months and that they go back to the standard price after that (or your upgrade is back to standard). So you want to compare the standard prices as well. Equally important to keep in mind is the fees for downgrading from the standard package once it changes. You might jump into the promo, but find that the standard price is too excessive in terms of price and plan and want to change plans. Some ISPs charge for that.

Bundles

Bundles are packages from the internet service provider that consist of multiple services in one plan. So you might have a plan that consists of your internet and phone, internet and TV or all 3. Some packages also include home security. ISPs “bundle” these together to receive more business from you and so that you can save some money. You also avoid the hassle of having to keep track of multiple bills at once.

When it comes down to comparing bundles you’ll want to break out the calculator and do some math. If you already have separate services that you’re looking to consolidate, figure out if the service you’ll receive is equal or better (connection, number of TV channels, etc). Then compare the prices.

From experience I know that sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to combine services. If you’ve been with a phone carrier for a long time, for example, you might receive such a great deal on your service that adding a new phone service to your internet plan might actually cost you money — and the service is the same.

Connections

When you compare connections, it’s a matter of comparing what’s available for the price, speed, etc that you’re looking for. Not every internet service provider will have dial-up or DSL or even high speed internet. So part of the comparison process will be figuring out what you need or are willing to spend for and ISPs that meet that criteria.

Speed

Internet speed doesn’t just come down to the overall speed, like when an ISP says that they have 3 Mbps internet speed. You also want to consider the upload and download speeds. These things will affect how quickly you can download music and videos, as well as upload your own content to the internet. Upload and download speeds will be smaller than the overall and speed, and in some ISPs cases, an ISP can have the fastest overall speed but be much slower (compared to other ISPs) in the up/download speeds.

Extras

Extras come down to things like free email, anti-virus, security and voicemail. This isn’t that important, but it could very well be the tie breaker between one ISP and another.

Sometimes the extras can come in the form of free installation or equipment. This is a pretty good value since installation and equipment can run several hundred dollars.

Contract Terms

The term of the contract is how long you’re obligated to stay with the company. Of course you can leave at any time, but you run the risk of fees and charges.

What you want to compare is the length of the term, as well as the consequences of canceling or downgrading. The best case scenario is a short term and little to no fees.

I’m not sure if it’s the case with internet companies, but I know I’ve had cell phone contracts where the cancellation fee was pro rated to be smaller the closer I got to the end of my contract. But if you can find an ISP that does this, it’s a pretty good combo of short term + little (or no) fees.

Other Things To Keep In Mind When Comparing Internet Service

If you’re still having a hard time choosing between 2 or more internet service providers, you might also want to check about installation and equipment costs. Sometimes you’re forced to use the ISPs equipment (that costs you money) or pay for installation if you’re unable to hook up your own modem, router and other connections. Some ISPs will charge, while others will not.