Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Best Internet Services

Comparing internet service providers is a difficult task. Most urban areas only offer a few high-speed choices, while rural areas often only have DSL, satellite or dial-up options. Choosing between different options can be a headache, especially with the aggressive advertising campaigns and opinionated customer reviews combating one another. To filter out the marketing hype and contentious criticism, we narrowed our focus to answer three simple questions: Where is it available? How fast is the connection? Can I get help if I need it?
Service Area
Most urban areas have high-speed options such as cable or fiber optic options available. Rural areas usually have a few dial-up or DSL choices. We created a coverage map for all services to help you find providers in your area; we also tested four urban and four rural addresses to get an idea of how broad an area an ISP covers. We also made note of approximately how many access numbers are available for dial-up in rural areas; the more access numbers available, the better chance a customer has of securing a dial-up connection quickly and consistently. We also looked at how many customers the ISP serves to give perspective on the concentration of their customer base.
Connection Speed
This area causes the most confusion. Most services tout fast speeds, or report speeds in multiples of standard dial-up speed or even in potential kilobits per second (Kbps) or megabits per second (Mbps). However, reported speeds do not always match average performance speed; speeds vary greatly depending on the time of day and even your location. The posted speed is only the potential speed, not the actual average performance speed. We rated highest the services that can provide high-speed options such as cable or fiber optic connections coupled with good third-party tested speeds. The services that offer dial-up rated higher if they also provide faster DSL services.
Additional Features
This criterion is not as crucial as it was five or 10 years ago. Most people are now comfortable with free webmail options such as Gmail or Yahoo and do not need additional email accounts offered by their service provider. It is helpful if the provider can supply security software that is always up-to-date as well as parental controls. It is also useful if dial-up services support call waiting so you can see who is calling your phone while you are online and screen calls without interrupting your connection.
Help & Support
Fast, helpful, knowledgeable support is critical. We looked for services that provide numerous avenues of contact such as by telephone, email and chat. Services that rely on physical components such as cables and modems should also provide responsive, local on-site support. We also looked to see if they provide convenient tools such as online support documentation in regards to billing and service, and we noted if they provide an easy-to-use online bill pay option.

No comments:

Post a Comment