Hello Everybody! My name is Eric Ozrelic, and today I’m going to talk about the most important quality to look for in an ISP. If you’re reading this article, you most likely already have an ISP, but maybe you’re looking for a new provider and want some tips on what to look for.
Over the years there’s one facet of the ISP experience that I’ve grown to appreciate and consistently look for… and surprisingly it’s not the speed of the connection. The top item on my list is communication. What do I mean by ‘communication’ you might ask? What I’m referring to is the ability for an ISP to effectively and consistently communicate with you in a positive way. To be able to pick up the phone and ask your ISP questions and feel like there’s someone present that is interested in your overall experience. I say this because so many providers invest more time and effort into marketing and the initial sales call. Internet service is about cultivating a long term commitment. How the customer feels over time is determined by service, support, and billing. Finding a good ISP does take a little bit of time, but by asking the right questions and taking note of how they communicate, you should be able to find a provider that not only can get you great internet but also a great overall experience.
Here’s a simple list of items to note when making your initial call to a new ISP:
- Did the sales person you spoke to listen to you or sell you on service?
- Does the ISP use terminology like “Up to 12Mbps.”
- If you weren’t able to get a live person, and you had to leave a message, how long did it take for them to get back to you?
- Did they take the time to answer all your questions?
- Did the salesperson ask you questions about your usage habits and inform you on internet that fits your needs?
- Was the salesperson upfront about any contracts, extra fees, a money back guarantee, or any other potential gotchas?
- Does the ISP have contracts?
- Does the ISP have overage fees?
How you use the internet is important. The more your ISP knows about this the better they can serve you. For example, a couple that mostly navigates the web and occasionally watches a movie through Itunes is going to have different needs than a family of six with three smart T.V.s, two iPads, four computers, a bunch of phones using wifi and two teenagers that play games. Many ISPs will sell you on Megabits, but what they won’t tell you is that there are other metrics that describe a connection’s performance. Be curious and ask them about it. For example the latter of the two examples above could have serious issues if the internet connection has data caps.
Aside from the connection itself, you may need help getting setup. Find out if the ISP is willing to help you understand how to optimize your connection for video games, or support multiple video streams, or help set up security on your new wifi router and extend coverage to your whole house. It takes time, energy and dedication to get good at resolving technical issues that arise. Internet and technology moves at a healthy gate. If the person you’re talking to enjoys the work you’ll probably be able to hear in in their voice 🙂
A bit about me and my history with internet service
I’ve been using the internet starting back around 1995 in the good old dial-up days with Prodigy and later AOL. I started with a 2400 baud modem and quickly upgraded to a 9600 baud modem, and then even further to a 28.8 and then the pinnacle of dial-up technology, the 56K/v.90 modem. At this point web pages were starting to get bigger with richer content and more and more people were sharing large media files like music over the internet. The dial-up just wasn’t cutting it anymore, but I was hooked and I knew that there had to be even faster ways to surf the internet. Various new communications technologies were coming out at the time to pick up where dial-up left off… ISDN (integrated services digital network), DSL (digital subscriber line), and even cable internet was starting to pop up in neighborhoods in Bend, Oregon. I even dabbled in early cellular data cards through Sprint, which were very slow and expensive, but were incredibly versatile due to the benefit of having an always on internet connection most anywhere. To sum it up, I’ve had many different internet connections, through various providers, using multiple access methods.
The internet and how we use it has blossomed since then. Find the best way to put it to use to match your lifestyle!