Digging Deeper: How to Compare Broadband Plans Like a Pro
When you're trying to choose between broadband plans, there's a lot to consider. You can look at cost and availability, first and foremost, but you can't evaluate broadband plans on price alone. It's also important to consider upload and download speeds, contract versus no contract plans, data caps, reliability, and a whole host of other criteria.
Complicating matters even further is the fact that when you compare broadband plans, packages can look nearly identical in terms of what's being offered. But you need an ISP, so that means you need to do the work to find one that not only promises a lot, but also delivers what YOU need.
The key to evaluating home internet plans like a pro is figuring out what kind of user you are. Once you determine that, you can sort through the broadband plans available where you live and pick the one that's going to add the most value to your life. Here's what you need to consider if...
You're a Light User
You read emails and you log in to social media now and then, but you watch your shows on your flat screen and get your news the old fashioned way. Do you need super-fast internet or unlimited data? No. What you need is super reliable plan that will let you keep in touch with your friends and family.
Look for: basic budget broadband plans that are rated highly by unbiased sites like BroadbandSearch.
You Could Stream Movies All Day Long
Whether you think of yourself as a heavy user, that's what you'll be categorized as by ISPs if you watch a ton of HD video, stream music all day, or play a lot of streaming games. Broadband plans with fast speeds, uptime guarantees, and no data caps were invented for the user like you. Are these plans typically more expensive? Yes, but they're worth it.
Look for: unlimited broadband bundles offered by ISPs with a reputation for not getting slower during prime time.
You Live in a Multi-Member Household
A family of four may have eight or more internet enabled devices online at one time, which means they equal one heavy user even if they're not constantly connected. Family broadband plans are usually flexible, have no data caps and enough bandwidth to support four or more users. They are also the home internet plans with the most robust parental controls.
Look for: broadband plans with no data caps that can be bundled with family-friendly TV or mobile phone plans.
You're a Student
College students in shared housing need shared broadband plans that have enough bandwidth to handle multiple research projects. The other factor that sets plans for students apart is contract length. Some ISPs offer 12-month terms, but a 9-month contract will be more convenient for a student who may not be in the same housing situation when school's out. Better yet, go no-contract.
Look for: no-contract broadband plans with enough bandwidth for multiple students.
You're Always on the Go
You've already nixed cable and DSL because you don't have a fixed residence, but that doesn't mean you have to rely on free Wi-Fi. If you're living the RV life or the boat life, satellite will probably be the most reliable always-on option. MiFi dongles can even create a shared connection between devices so you can share with fellow travelers.
Look for: mobile broadband or satellite broadband plans that let you stay connected anywhere in the world.
So what's your broadband persona? Once you understand your needs and habits, you can evaluate home internet plans not just by crunching the numbers, but also by seeing if they will deliver what you want.
Are you ready to start comparing and contrasting broadband plans? Start by finding internet providers near you.