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Internet 101: Choosing An Internet Service Provider

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Internet service providers – knows as ISPs, are the companies that connect you to the Web. Whether you’re an experienced online surfer or brand new to everything the Internet has to offer, choosing an ISP is an important decision. In order to make an informed choice on an Internet provider, it’s essential to keep in mind what technology is available in your area, what your needs are, and how much you’re willing to spend.

You’ll want to begin by exploring what ISP options are available in your area. Cable and DSL tend to be the most popular, and are the most widely available. dial-up Internet requires a dedicated phone line, and satellite connections can usually be found most anywhere. Ask around and do as much research as you can on what your available options are before investigating your best choice.

Dial-Up
Believe it or not, old-school dial-up Internet connections are still available from some ISPs. While this system may seem completely antiquated, it can be a good choice for anyone who rarely uses the Internet, doesn’t mind having to wait a few minutes to get online, and has no need for wireless access.

Cable or DSL
Anyone who plans on using the Internet with some regularity will probably want to go with either cable or a DSL connection. Cable will be a faster option than DSL, which might be a consideration for anyone that works from home or plans to spend a substantial amount of time online. DSL, on the other hand, is usually more affordable, though more cable companies are now offering bundled packages with television and home phone service that brings the cost of cable internet down.

Satellite
For those who use the Internet regularly, but live in a rural area where cable and DSL connections are unavailable, satellite may be your only option. Fairly limited in their streaming content connectivity, satellite Internet connection is also affected by the weather. On the plus side, satellite Internet connections are wireless and are no more expensive than DSL or cable.

Another important consideration when choosing an ISP is speed. While everyone wants lightning fast Internet, keep in mind that the quicker the connection, the higher the monthly cost is going to be. A good rule of thumb is to only pay for the speed and performance level that you will get regular use out of. If you do a lot of browsing, watch TV and download music online, or if more than one person in your house will be using the Internet at the same time, make sure your connection is over 1 Mbp/s. Any slower than that is only good for very light browsing and sending the occasional email. On the other hand, if you’re a serious game enthusiast, you’ll want no less than 3 Mbp/s.

Finally, keep total cost in mind while shopping around for an ISP. There is no standard price across the board for DSL, cable or satellite Internet. Prices can actually vary widely depending on the company, area, type of connection and speed. Shopping around is important, and keep in mind that combining your Internet needs with your cable or phone package can often save you quite a bit. Just make sure you look past any introductory offers to the actual price before signing any contracts.

Sam Jones, the author, wanted to understand what is broadband and so started doing some research into the various internet offerings.

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