Getting by without broadband internet in the modern world is nearly impossible. Whether you're working from home or just streaming your favorite movies and TV shows, it's rare for some people to go a day without heavy internet usage. Broadband services mean more productive work and less frustrating entertainment.
Most internet service providers (ISPs) use their rated speeds as the topline number for every plan, but is there more to consider? If you're thinking about switching providers or upgrading your plan, it's worth looking at your options holistically rather than focusing on a single number.
Why Does Speed Matter?
Speed is a critical aspect of any home internet service, or broadband wouldn't have crushed old 56k and ISDN service providers. But why does the speed of your internet connection matter so much? While many providers list specific use cases, internet speed ultimately boils down to two straightforward ideas: how fast can you send (upload) and receive (download) data?
When browsing the internet, watching a movie, or installing a video game from an online service, you're using your plan's download or downstream speeds. Higher downstream rates translate into faster loading times and the ability to view higher-quality videos without interruption. On the other hand, activities such as uploading files or video chat rely on your upstream speed.
As a general rule, higher speeds translate into a better overall experience. While there may be a point of diminishing returns if you aren't a power user, most people will benefit from having a faster internet connection.
Why Shouldn't You Focus on Speed Alone?
While speed is an essential component of your internet service plan, there are several other factors you may want to consider. In particular, you should spend some time researching the uptime and overall reliability of providers in your area. Providers typically list speeds as theoretical maximum values, so you need to make sure people in your area receive the advertised rates.
It's also worth considering plans and bundles. Some providers offer discounts if you bundle your internet plan with a mobile phone or cable service. If you're willing to switch these services to a new provider, you may be able to receive a significant discount on your internet bill. Even better, bundle discounts might mean that you can afford a plan that offers higher-rated speeds.
Finally, pay attention to any bandwidth usage limits. These limits work the same way as data limits on mobile phone plans. For example, if your provider has a one terabyte limit, you may find your connection throttled or face overage charges if you exceed this amount of data usage in a month. Make sure you understand your usage patterns before signing up for a plan with monthly bandwidth limits.
By looking at your internet plan as a complete package instead of just a set of numbers, you can choose the option that will work best for your home. Taking the time to make the right choice means getting faster, better internet with less frustration. Reach out to a local home internet service to learn more.