Internet has become a basic necessity today. Socializing, shopping, banking, and everything else can be done online. With internet becoming such an integral part of our lives, choosing the right internet service provider (ISP) has become all the more important. Choosing the right service provider can mean a difference between enjoying a hassle-free experience, and getting stuck in a frustrating one. So, here is a 5-step guide to help you decide on an Internet service provider that is best suited for your online needs. Pay attention.

Location is where you start

United States is a vast country and not every service provider covers all the locations. So, your first step should be to shortlist the internet service providers that service your zip code. How can you do that? Check the classifieds. Any service that is available in your area will be advertised there. But, don’t settle for that. Call and check whether or not they serve your exact location. This will eliminate spending any unnecessary energy and time in researching an internet service provider that eventually cannot serve you.

DSL and cable internet are the most readily available services across the country. If you have a fixed line phone connection, or a cable TV connection, then you can get a DSL or a cable connection respectively. Fiber optic network has very limited reach. So this is the most elusive technology to get. If you want to enjoy the super high speeds of the fiber optic connections, then location will be the most important criterion for you to choose an ISP.

It is entirely possible that just one company serves your area. In that case, your search for the perfect ISP will end here. You will have no other option, but to go with the only choice available to you. On the complete opposite spectrum of fiber optic internet is the satellite internet. In this case, location has no role to play on the ISP you select. As you are getting the internet via satellite, it can beam a signal anywhere across the country. So, those who are looking for a satellite internet connection can completely skip this step.

Speed to Satiate Your Internet Needs

You are searching for a company that can meet your internet requirements. The bandwidth you finally settle for should be dependent on what you do online and how many people are going to use that single internet connection.

You have to understand that every ISP will try to sell you their top plan. But, you are the one in charge here. Take a hard look at what exactly you do on the internet. If you just browse websites and check mails, then even 5Mbps speed is more than enough for your entire family.

If you are active on the social media and post a lot of content there, if you watch an occasional online video, and engage in other light activities, then maybe a 25Mbps connection will do the job. However, if you play online games and download movies and music, then you fall in the category of a heavy user and you need 50 to 100Mbps download speed.

You should also consider the number of devices connected to one connection. If you have more than 3 or 4 people using the same connection, you need a plan with a higher bandwidth.

Good customer support is underrated

Don’t forget to enquire about the service quality of an ISP before selecting them. Even the best internet services suffer downtimes. It is during these times that you want to hear a friendly voice on the other end of the phone, to listen to your concern and offer you a resolution. Nobody wants to listen to a pre-recorded answering machine that keeps you waiting for hours before a representative can serve you.

Make it a point to ask around about the customer service offered by the local ISPs. The existing and past subscribers of a service are the best sources for finding the truth about the ISPs. You can also check out the many discussion forums that have endless posts about how different companies treat their customers. Read more than 10 reviews so that you are able to form a well-rounded opinion than a biased one.