Low Cost Internet Service
Finding the Best Value ISPs
Most people don’t need a super-charged sports car. While it may be nice, it’s not a necessity. The same applies to Internet service. Shopping for the best ISP (Internet Service Provider) that meets the needs of an individual or small business also brings the best service and price.
Consider the Internet needs first. Is the service for an individual or business? Does it need to stream multimedia, access files and heavy-content sites with videos and graphics? If so, then subscribe to a faster connection. If it’s just for checking email and looking at basic sites, then look at slower connections.
The same is true of businesses. Slower connections will work better for customer service and email. Alternatively, if the business is small, or individually owned, then an individual Internet plan might work better than a business plan.
Types of Plans
Plans range from dial-up, to DSL, to cable, to mobile. Dial-up is generally the slowest, ties up phone lines, but is also the cheapest. If an individual only needs a few minutes daily, then this won’t cause any problems. Dial-up shouldn’t be used for businesses.
DSL works through the phone line, but unlike dial-up, it’s quicker and doesn’t tie it up. DSL generally offers less bandwidth than Cable Internet, but provides speeds considered useful for most Internet use.
Cable Internet offers more available bandwidth, which means that it can handle more data and at faster speeds. However, individual subscriptions don’t always reach these speeds because providers cap the maximum bandwidth customers receive. Businesses sharing large files, using heavy multimedia, and servicing hundreds of employees and access points should consider business plans from cable Internet providers.
Cell phone companies offer mobile Internet plans, either through cell phones or through a USB drive. Some cell phones allow users to convert their phone into a wireless router for their laptops. These plans usually come with data limits and work best for individuals. While expensive, they usually work in rural areas without access to DSL or cable service.
After determining the best service for Internet needs, shop around. Use the Internet to search for ISPs in the area. Use libraries, cafes, and businesses that offer WiFi services if Internet service isn’t already available, or ask a friend to use their computer. Many companies offer online quotes and services, such as email and phone numbers, to make shopping easy.
Another good place to access information is a phone book. Call companies, ask about specials or deals offered to individuals and businesses. If a business is unwilling to take the time to work with a customer to find something that matches the needs, then cross them off the list.
How to Save
Many ISPs provide bundled packages. For individuals, this usually means Internet, television, and phone. For businesses, it’s usually Internet and phone packaged together. These bundles usually save money, and for individuals they can be packaged in twos if all three aren’t desired.
Along with bundling, or separate of it, coupling services with a neighbor, or shedding costs to customers can bring savings. Buy a wireless router to share a signal and service, splitting the cost. Make sure to encrypt the signal and include a security key. If setting it up is difficult, or unknown, contact the ISP for information and they should be more than willing to help.
Sharing service can also work for businesses if they use it as an at cost fee, or as a means to attract customers. Cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, and more usually offer free WiFi service to customers. Some charge for Internet use, but this sometimes scares potential customers.
List of Low-Cost ISPs
- Comcast Internet Essentials – $9.95/month broadband access available if your child participates in the free school lunches program.
- NetZero – From $9.95/month. Unlimited dial-up, DSL and broadband
- Earthlink – From $6.47/month. Claims to be up to 7x faster than regular dial up.
- Spectrum –TV and Internet bundle under $85 for first year
- Verizon – DSL and dial-up for as low as $15 a month
- CenturyLink – Speeds up to 40Mbps, bundles, and plans as low as $20 a month
To save money, consider all the factors and ask questions. Take advantage of special deals for new customers and bundled packages. Whatever the situation, though, don’t settle.