10 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Internet Provider
Are there data limits?
Data limits are restrictions that an Internet service provider may place on your Internet usage. Not all Internet providers will have a data limit, and some may have soft or hard data limits. A hard data limit means that after you use a certain amount of data, you will be charged overage or will be completely cut off. Soft data limits mean that after you reach a certain data amount you can continue using the Internet, but at a slower speed. This leads us to our next question…
Will you throttle my speeds?
Although most Internet providers may advertise no data limits, if you read the fine print or inquire further, you might learn that they will slow down or throttle your speeds when you pass your soft data limit. Some may also throttle your speeds if the network is congested. Find out if this will happen with their Internet service.
What are my speed options?
Your Internet usage will determine which speed will be best for your home or business. The number of devices, amount of streaming and downloading will all factor into the speed that you will need. For reference, Netflix recommends an Internet download speed of at least 5 Mbps to stream HD videos. Most Internet providers will offer several different speed options to the needs of their customers and ask them which option is the best for you.
Are the speeds guaranteed? What happens if my speeds aren’t fast enough?
Unfortunately, most Internet providers will not guarantee their speeds, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Even if they do not have speed guarantees, find out what you can do if your Internet isn’t performing at your plan’s speed. Sometime slow speeds are because of equipment malfunction or there are too many people using your connection. To test your Internet speed, there are many free websites where you can do so for free!
Is there a contract?
Finding out if there is a contract and the contract length is important. Also, it can be helpful to find out if there are any incentives for agreeing to a longer contract length. Some of these incentives might be waived fees or a lower monthly rate. However, when it comes to contracts, it is also essential to understand what the process of early cancellation looks like with the provider.
Are you offering any special or promotions?
It never hurts to ask!
Can I provide my own router/equipment?
Typically, you will have two choices in this realm. You can either provider your own router (if the provider allows it) or the Internet provider may give you the option you to rent one from them for a monthly or annual fee. A big plus to renting equipment from the provider is that they will usually replace it or come out and do maintenance on it if there are any issues. However, if you choose to provide your own equipment, most providers won’t service them or replace them for free.
Who will install the equipment?
Depending on the complexity of the equipment required, sometimes you can have the option to have a technician install your equipment. But self-installation might be possible as well. Something to keep in mind is that installation fees might come into play if you have to have a technician come out and install.
What happens when there is a problem with my Internet connection?
Unfortunately, occasional Internet issues are inevitable. When they do, what is the process to notify the provider? Some providers have a technical support phone line, online portal with outage and maintenance information, or a live chat. It’s also helpful to know the tech support and customer service hours.
What additional fees can I expect?
Besides the recurring monthly fee, find out what other fees are possible with this Internet service provider and what can you do to avoid them? Some possibilities are installation fees, overage charges if you go over a data limit, service fees if a technician has to come out to service your equipment or cancellation fees.