How to Choose Between Different Internet Options


While using the Internet is great, setting it up can be overwhelming. Packages, bundles, contracts, and speeds can all blur together after a while.

You may wonder where to start if you’re looking for an internet service provider (ISP). The good news is that the process is quite manageable if you prepare beforehand and then take your time. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to choose between different internet options.


internet service providers. And make no mistake; this is an important part of the process. Before you get there, it’s wise to assess your current needs. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • How many people use the Internet in your house?
  • Do you have a lot of smart home devices?
  • Do you work from home?
  • Do you stream a lot of TV shows and movies?
  • Do you play online games or download huge files?
  • Do you stream media in a high resolution?

As you get a feel for what you’re doing, identify how much speed each activity takes. For instance, a video call might need 3-5 Mbps (megabytes per second), whereas streaming a 4K movie requires more like 25 Mbps.

Understand Your Terminology

Next up, take some time to round out your internet terminology. The three most important terms worth understanding are:

As you prepare to choose your internet provider, ensure you’re comfortable with the language you’ll use.

Gather a List of the Available Internet Providers

Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to gather a list of internet providers in your area. Many tools can search this information for you using your zip code or other geographically based identifier.

Look up each company on the Better Business Bureau, visit their Google My Business Listing, and follow them on social media. Once you have your list, reviewing each option is worth a few minutes.

The goal should be to see what customers are saying about each company. Do they have good customer service? Is their Internet dependable? What are people saying about their prices? As with many businesses in similar industries, you’ll find many negative reviews. Don’t let a bad word from a past customer be your only deciding factor. Still, reviews and ratings are a great way to gauge how good or bad the company’s reputation and services are.

Find Your Ideal Plan with Each Provider

Next up, take your list of the ISPs you want to consider and review their product offerings. As you do so, you want to:

  • Identify the speed you need: Which plan or service tier does offers offer that you need?
  • Look for fees: This could include data caps, overage fees, and even a charge to “rent” a modem.
  • Note if a contract is involved: Some ISPs require you to agree to stay with their service for a certain length if you want to pay a lower price.
  • Consider installation requirements: Do you need to set up coaxial cables, a modem, a router, etc.? What elements of the installation will the company do for you?

This process can take a few minutes, especially if you have several options. Try to make notes as you go so you don’t lose track of everything in your head.

Select Your Provider

Once you’ve gathered your list of ISPs, considered their customer reviews, and compared their services, it’s time to decide. A clear top contender emerged throughout this decision-making process if you’re lucky. However, you may find that there are still many different ISPs with very similar product offerings.

If that’s the case, you may want to see if either one is running a promotion. Many internet service providers will offer incentives for first-time sign-ups. If so, you can see which ISP currently has the better promotion.

You may even want to call each one or chat with a rep online. Tell them you’re deciding which ISP to go with and see what deals they can offer you.

Further Considerations

Once you’ve chosen your Internet, the next step is installation. If the company does this, you must do minimal work. If it’s up to you to do part of the process, they will still likely provide you with detailed steps to set up your at-home Internet.

Once your Internet is up and running, you’ve finished the hardest part. However, there are a couple more things worth checking.

First, run a quick speed test after the installation is complete. This can help you ensure you get the right upload and download speed. If you aren’t, call the company to see if it’s on their end (they can check over the phone). If it’s on your end, you may need to upgrade your home equipment, which leads to a second follow-up.

While the ISP may provide a modem, you may need to buy a router to connect your house to the Internet. If you already have one and want a better signal, there are multiple ways to boost it.

Choosing an internet provider can feel scary at first. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you assess your needs and consider your local provider options, you can choose the service that makes the most sense for your household with minimal difficulty.