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So, You Need an Internet Plan?

Here’s What to Look for in an Internet Service Provider

Maybe you’ve recently moved and are looking to get reconnected. Maybe you’ve got some gamers in the house and need the fastest Internet speeds you can get. Maybe you’re simply shopping around for a better deal.

Regardless of your situation, if you live in a service area that has multiple Internet Service Providers, determining which one is best for you can be a challenge. You want the most bang for your buck, but the lowest price package may not actually be the best “deal”.

So, how do you know which Internet provider is right for you?

We’ve put together a few points that can help you decide.

They Don’t Trick You with the Small Print

When you’re shopping around for an Internet Service Provider (ISP), it’s easy to be lured in by their savvy marketing techniques. Limited time offer? Fastest speeds available? Contract buyout?

Sign me up! Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Hold on. One look at the small print and you’ll see that flashy price is only guaranteed for the first few months after sign-up. After that, “standard rates” apply.

And the deal is only for qualified customers…living in certain areas.

What many companies don’t want to tell you (and the reason they put it in small print) is how much you’ll be paying after their introductory period. Not to mention all the extra fees they’ll tack on to your plan for installation and the basic equipment you need to use the service you’re already paying them for.

Oh, and the high speed they’re boasting is most likely their download speed. This day and age, you need to know and understand BOTH the download and upload speed you can expect to get. Not every provider offers equal upload and download speeds, and that can seriously impact your end experience. Upload speeds have become much more relevant—they are necessary for posting your family vacation photos to social media, Skyping with a loved one, sending a large file for work, sharing a video on YouTube, or even streaming footage from a home security camera.

While every Internet provider has a unique service area and their own terms and conditions for service, the right provider will be up front about what you can expect. All providers are going to have something in small print. They have to. But, you’ll want to look closely at what they’re really offering and how honest they are about it.

Their Plans Include More Than Just the Connection

When you start to compare providers, don’t just opt for the company offering a higher speed for a lower price. Some companies are known to exclude monthly equipment fees and additional charges from their advertised pricing just so their numbers appear lower at first glance. But, once you get the first month’s invoice, you realize that “steal of a deal” wasn’t really a deal at all.

Look for a company that includes installation, knows you’ll need wireless connectivity and includes it at no cost, and doesn’t charge you for the router or other equipment you need to use their services. Basically, you should be looking to see which company provides the highest overall value, not just the lowest advertised price.

They Have Excellent Customer Support

Speaking of added value, another way to identify the best provider in your area is to look at the quality of their customer support. It’s something easy to overlook…that is, until you need it and can’t get in touch with anyone who can help.

Consider the following questions:

  • What kind of support is available throughout the process?
  • Is it easy to get in touch with someone when you want to?
  • How transparent is the provider about fees for troubleshooting, remote support, setup, or other technical assistance?
  • Do they share their online reviews? How does their online reputation stack up?

The right provider offers exceptional support before, during, and after setup. They should not only guide you to a plan that works for you, but also help you to understand and get the most from your services. A worthy provider will be transparent in their communications and look for ways to help you save money, adopt new technologies, and be available to answer the day-to-day questions you may have about your service. If a provider can check all of those boxes, it’s a sign they’re committed to your satisfaction.

They’re Investing in the Latest Technology

With the technology around us ever-evolving, we have more ways than ever to connect to the World Wide Web. Some of those ways, though, are quickly becoming outdated as we find faster and faster options. Gone are the days of painstaking dial up Internet, and here are the days of lightning fast connectivity.

Today, most Internet service providers use some form of DSL connection, coaxial cable or fiber-optic technology to deliver Internet service.

DSL uses traditional copper phone lines and is oftentimes still a viable option in rural communities. While it was a welcome alternative to dial up, in comparison to today’s alternatives, it presents speed limitations and is sensitive to distance and environmental conditions.

Cable Internet uses the same coaxial cable that delivers your TV. While cable technology is most certainly faster than DSL, it’s oftentimes unreliable, vulnerable to peak usage time slow-downs and most noticeably, only capable of delivering optimal download speeds. Upload speeds are often just a fraction of their advertised “Internet speed”—even though consumers are uploading more and more in today’s digitally connected environment.

Today, fiber is the gold-standard of Internet conductivity and is by far the fastest in broadband technology. Data is transmitted as light over tiny fiber optic glass strands. Fiber can support all of today’s advanced Internet uses like multi-user television streaming in 4K, home automation, and gaming. It also has the capacity to accommodate broadband demand well into the future. In addition to its superior speed, fiber is more reliable and capable of symmetrical (equal) upload and download speeds. Regardless of what you’re doing on the Internet, you can always expect a quality experience with fiber technology.

Even though fiber is clearly the frontrunner in the Internet game, its availability remains fairly limited. Local telephone companies like Solarus recognize the need, understand the significance of rural connectivity, and are investing in building out fiber infrastructures. While deploying a fiber network can be more of a marathon than a sprint, in the end, we feel it’s a worthwhile investment in our community.

Get Connected with a Better Provider!

So there you have it. We hope you’ve learned a few things to consider as you’re shopping for an Internet provider. If you still have questions or want to talk through some options, we’re always happy to chat with you. We build our reputation through customer satisfaction and a personalized, no-pressure approach to helping you find the services that work best for you!

We aren’t interested in upselling you into bundles you don’t need or pitching you promotional rates. We’d much rather spend our time and energy ensuring that we set you up to get a quality experience at a fair price. That’s why we’re honest about what your service will cost you both now and down the road, why we’re telling you to cut the cord, and why we’re putting so many resources into bringing fiber-optic Internet to even more of our service area.

Want to learn more? Contact us to learn about all Solarus has to offer!