What the best ISP has

  • Variety of speeds at different costs. The faster the download speed, the more the Internet service costs within an ISP's plans.
  • Communication and safety features. Email accounts, Wi-Fi access and online security suites may be free with some plans.
  • Help and support. Fast, knowledgeable support is essential, including on-site technical support for services using physical components such as modems and cables.

Know before you go

Decide which is more important, speed or cost. There's generally a trade-off between speed and cost, which is why fiber-optic Internet access is the most expensive. Given the choice between two reliable providers, for example, one DSL and the other cable, you can get a slower DSL connection for less.

Consider a bundle. You can usually lower your monthly fee by obtaining Internet access from your local cable provider, long-distance company or wireless phone service. The best discounts are typically offered on bundles that include Internet, TV and phone service. Count on having extra fees and taxes added to whatever base price is advertised.

Are people in your area happy with the ISP? Compare the quality of service options available. Some ISPs offer better technical support while others have a better record of avoiding slowdowns and outages. Check out BroadbandReports.com for user reviews on customer satisfaction in your area.

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