Signing up to find a new Internet service provider can feel like signing away your life. Almost all providers require lengthy contracts that you cannot leave unless you are willing to sacrifice a large sum of money for your freedom. To make the best of the situation, it is imperative that you find the best Internet service provider in the area before you make any kind of commitment to the contract. But, it is also important to remember that finding the best Internet service provider is not only about finding the best deal. There are several factors involved in finding a provider who will serve you well, not only on the day you sign the contract but even 11 months into it.

National vs. Local

It is important to note that not all Internet service providers operate in all areas. There are national providers, but there are also local providers that serve only certain geographical areas. You may also find that some national providers will operate under a franchise, so even if you think you are escaping a large company, they may be the man behind the curtain.


It is also important to note that you may not have access to certain types of Internet depending upon your geographic location. Major cities will have the most options to choose from when they check their Internet service providers but those living in rural areas or smaller towns will have fewer options. Some people will have access to cable, DSL, fiber optic or satellite Internet, while others are still forced to stand in the middle of the yard with an antenna, praying that it doesn’t rain.

Speed Test

Whether you live in a metropolitan area or one hundred miles from anywhere, the first thing to do before you even consider a company is to use an Internet resource to check the average Internet speeds in the area you live in. There are a variety of online tools that will do this for you. They usually perform what is called a “speed test” based upon your geographic location. This speed test will show you the average download speeds of Internet subscribers in the area. Through speed tests, you can compare what Internet service providers are offering to what kind of speeds are actually being delivered in the area. To check out how fast Netflix loads on different providers, for instance, you can look at the Netflix ISP Speed Index. This will rank Internet service providers across America according to the average speed they allow Netflix to stream in.

Name Your Price

After you have learned which providers actually provide the service that you need, you can begin to look at plans and prices. In most cases, you can prepare yourself for a contract that lasts a minimum of one year; however, two years is a more common length. Some companies will offer introductory deals that advertise low prices for the first few months of the contract before returning to the rack rate. You should be careful to check what the rate becomes after the introductory offer is over. In some cases, the rate jumps so high that it would be more cost efficient to avoid the offer in the first place.

Consider a Bundle

In many cases, an Internet service provider will become more relaxed if you allow them to lock in all of the multimedia services in your house. The rates can become significantly more favorable if you are will to run your television, phone and Internet through one provider. If your television and phone contract are also about to expire, you may want to consider switching all of your services to one provider.

In a world where many people choose their homes according to download speeds, finding an Internet service provider has become simultaneously easier and harder. By doing your research, shopping around and ensuring that you get all the services you need from your provider, you can get the most from your next Internet service provider.