Choosing an Internet Service Provider
It’s quite a while since the US Government first came up with the idea of a giant network of computers using telephone lines to communicate, but only a decade or so since everybody wanted a connection in their own home.
The number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) now operating in Australia means choosing a suitable provider is rapidly becoming as challenging as buying a car or house. As with anything, there are plenty of pros and cons to consider. To help you make up your mind this article will walk you through the decision-making process.
If you’re in the process of choosing an ISP but don’t know where to start, ask yourself the following questions and act on the answers.
What sort of connection is available in my area?
No point hankering after broadband or wireless Internet and deciding to find a plan if you haven’t checked whether you can get it in your area. You can in most urban areas, much like cable and DSL, but not in many rural areas. If this is the case you may want to consider satellite as an option.
How much will I use the Internet?
If you plan to only use the Internet to check e-mails, read the paper or check football results, you are not a heavy Internet user and don’t need one of the more expensive deals that offer large download limits. You should be fine with 200mb month.
However, you need to be aware that it you go over this limit, you could be charged per megabyte from then on. This can add up quickly.
How fast does my connection need to be?
Some people can’t live with slow Internet but if you’re coming from a dial-up modem, or even no Internet connection, 256kbps to 512kbps will feel fast enough for you. Getting a faster Internet speed – above 8000 – is just plain excessive if you don’t go online that much.
How much will I download?
If you want to use your connection to download music and films, you will need a download limit of 1GB to 2GB or more per month. If you choose a faster connection, it’s easy to get carried away downloading movies that very quickly chew up your download limit.
How much do I want to spend?
You can get deals from as low as $20 per month. Naturally, these will be slower and have a small download limit. They will probably have a contract, too. Spend a little more and the peace of mind may be worth it.
When is it worth paying extra?
If you get cable, wireless or satellite broadband you will need a special modem, which can be costly. Cable and satellite also often require installation so that can be an additional cost. For country people the Government’s Broadband Guarantee Program may make satellite access more financially viable. It’s a subsidy to help cover the costs of a satellite dish, modem and set up for people in isolated areas.
Should I avoid a contract?
You don’t have to have to take out a contract with your service provider. Many plans are offered without a contract or with a short contract. Most packages, however, come with a one- or two-year contract. If you move house or change providers you could incur a hefty fee. If you think you may be moving within the contract term investigate the fees and penalties before you sign up.
Should I “bundle” my services?
If you are upgrading your technology and moving to broadband, you may be tempted to switch your phone provider as well, as part of a package. To work out whether this is worth you while first assess how much you spend on phone calls and read the small print. A bundle deal may sound good but might not work out cheaper. By the way, it is possible to bundle cable TV with cable Internet.
Is the ISP I like any good?
Ok, so you’ve seen a dirt cheap deal but have you asked friends, family and work mates if they know anything about the company? Have they used them? Have they had friends who have? Does it work well? …and if the company has terrible customer service, is saving a few bucks really it worth the hassle?
Once you have chosen a provider and had it set up a whole new – high speed –world will open up for you. Happy surfing!
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