What to look for in an internet service provider
Some providers have exciting deals and freebies that look super impressive. But when you’re choosing an internet provider, make sure the price per month, download speed, and data caps meet your standards before you sign a contract.
Price per month
Since there’s no standard for internet pricing, even 25 Mbps plans can run anywhere from $19.99 to $60 per month. (It’s a big range, we know. Price depends a lot on your provider and location.)
We recommend trying to find a deal around $50 per month.
If that sounds like way too much for a significant utility, we hear you. Read “Free and Low-Income Internet Plans for Families, Seniors, and Students” to learn how to save money on your internet service.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines broadband—high-speed internet—as 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speeds. Unless you’re in a rural area, it’s easy to find speeds like that nowadays.
But our internet usage is growing all the time. People stream more, game more, and telecommute more. Add to that cool smart home devices, and our bandwidth usage is higher than ever.
With that in mind, we recommend trying for faster speeds. Going from 25 Mbps to 50 Mbps will make a world of difference, but jumping up to 100 Mbps is the best fit for most homes.
Unless you’re a super internet user, you probably don’t need 1,000 Mbps, but if you feel like your internet connection is too slow, go ahead and kick it up a notch.
Data caps—also called data allowances—are limits on how much an ISP will let you use the internet before it charges you extra fees.
Every time you upload or download something, whether it’s clicking a link, sending a Facebook message, or streaming a show from Netflix, you’re using data.
We didn’t talk about data caps much in this article because our top five recommendations all meet our standards. That means they’re all around 1,024 GB (1 TB), which is more than plenty for the average household.
But knowing your provider’s data caps and how much it will charge you can save you a lot of heartbreak. We broke down all the limits and fees in this data cap article, so you don’t have to dig through internet contracts to find your info.