First Time Internet Buyer’s Guide

Mohammed Emran /
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Choosing an Internet plan for the first time is a daunting task. There are a lot of things to focus on when a first-time Internet buyer attempts to choose the best plan for their home. 

It’s difficult, at first, to determine what the priorities are in the household. Is the connection speed important? What are data caps? Is 25 Mbps enough? 

What about prices? What is a good range price to pay for home Internet plans or bundles? 

Purchasing and committing to an Internet plan is just like being in a relationship. You hope it has a solid foundation and that it lasts forever. With the right guidance, purchasing an Internet plan for the first time can not only provide reliable stability at the right price, but it can turn into a long-lasting connection. 

Types of Internet Service Available

First things first. One of the fundamental things a first-time Internet buyer should focus on is the services available. In order to do this, you have to consider your settings. 

For example, if you live near a mountain range, not all types of Internet services might be available to you. Sometimes, when customers live in remote areas, they benefit more from satellite services, whereas if the customer lives in New York City, that might not be that practical.

Still, there are plenty of services to choose from. Here are the most popular ones:

  • DSL Internet
    Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) is a type of Internet service that connects users to the Internet by using copper wires within your telephone lines through a modem. Don’t worry, this won’t interfere at all with your phone line (if you still have one) because the DSL transmits a different voice frequency than your phone.DSL services are mid-range when it comes to Internet services. This type of service is best suited for users that want to enjoy streaming movies or downloading music, but that don’t spend vast amounts of time on the computer streaming videos. It’s best to not expect fast download speeds with DSL. The service normally averages a maximum of 15 Mbps, which can allow you to stream and mild uploading and downloading, but it gets crowded easily and it’s not great for households with multiple users and connected devices.
  • Cable Internet
    Cable Internet uses cables to transmit data through a cable modem. This is one of the most popular types of services to get because it offers users reliable high-speed Internet and there are plenty of services and bundles that are affordable. One significant thing that makes cable Internet popular is that it does not need to use a phone line at all to connect. It offers faster speeds than most broadband Internet connections and companies that offer cable Internet, normally have satisfactory customer support in case users need troubleshooting. Download speeds with cable Internet range from 10 to 500 Mbps and upload speeds range from 5 to 50 Mbps. This makes it one of the most reliable services that’s great for streaming, web surfing, and gaming. Just make sure you watch out for “rush hours.” Sometimes, with cable Internet services, the Internet connection can slow down during peak hours in your area⸺these are the times that have the most users connected in a particular zone at a certain time.
  • Satellite Internet
    Satellite is best for customers that live in rural areas where popular Internet connections are not available. It’s great because it provides a connection for users that are in remote parts of the country or world. However, this type of service is not created for the entertainment capabilities⸺it’s more for practicality and light web browsing. The average speed for satellite Internet connections is less than 40Mbps which makes it one of the slower connections available out there. Still, despite the obvious disadvantages, satellite Internet comes with some perks. One of the chief things that still make this type of Internet attractive is the fact that because it has less equipment on the ground, satellites are better able to withstand damage during extreme weather. It’s also affordable, and it provides far-away communities with the ability to stay connected in day-to-day life or during emergencies.
  • Fiber-Optic Internet
    This is currently the newest and fastest type of Internet connection available out there. For example, upload speeds for fiber Internet range from 250-1,000 Mbps. That is fast. This makes the best connection for a business, as it is also incredibly reliable. Fiber-optic Internet provides users with fast cloud access which is helpful for data storage and site hosting. Most fiber-optic Internet plans don’t have data caps. This means that there are no limits on the amount of data the customer uses in a month, which means no extra charges. It also provides a consistent signal and reasonable costs for bundles.

What Internet Speed Do You Need?

Once you figure out what type of service is best for you, the next thing to think about is the speed that you will need. Again, the decision will rely on what the needs are for the household. 

Things to Consider:

  • Are there multiple users and connected devices in the house?
  • Is there a need for a lot of uploading, downloading, and sharing of files?
  • Do you want an Internet connection that is fast enough to sustain gaming capabilities?
  • Is the quality of the video during a meeting important to you?
  • Will you be streaming a lot of movies and music? 

Depending on what you’re looking to use the Internet connection for, the options for speed and Mbps vary. This will guide you to choose a plan that fits your budget, needs, speed, and reliability. 

For streaming videos through apps like Netflix or Hulu, technically only need about 5 Mpbs to stream in HD. However, if you are going to connect multiple devices, 25 Mbps works better for 4K Ultra HD content, quality, and speed. This will also work well for gaming. 

Anything that is between 25 and 100 Mbps is great for downloading, uploading, live streaming, gaming, and extensive large files. Those are the average speeds for most Internet bundles or plans. 

Other Factors to Consider Before Buying an Internet Plan

Of course, you will want to consider what type of budget you’re willing to reserve for Internet services. As mentioned previously, there are plenty of plans to choose from with many types of price ranges. 

Often, customers prefer to bundle services with Internet, cable TV, and cellphone to get the best deal possible. Depending on the type of Internet service you are looking for and the speed, the average range for bundles should be between $50 and $100. 

Some companies will add additional costs to first time Internet buyers with products they will need in order to get their Internet connection started. Things like modems and routers can add an additional price to your bill because the company will rent them to the customer while they are subscribed to their services. 

A lot of companies will offer introductory packages to first-time customers that will save them money during the initial purchase. Just keep in mind that the charges will come back after the trial period (or when the offer ends) and that will be something you will have to factor into your bill, eventually. 

Be wary of any add-ons that the Internet service tries to sell you on. Sometimes, depending on the computer or equipment you may have at home, the Internet might offer antivirus or anti-malware programs to protect your computer. 

There are free options available online that can offer the same type of protection and that will save you some money in the long run. Look into those first before accepting add-ons on your bill. 

Making the Right Choice

Choosing an Internet plan and provider is a lot of work. With so many options and so many things to consider, the whole thing can feel like a research project for school.
The best approach is to consider what you need the Internet provider or plan to give you. Remember that you are the customer and you are the one that will deal with the advantages and disadvantages of whatever plan you choose for your home. 

There are a lot of options out there, but in the end, what matters is what you feel is important in a plan and how you can best make a choice based on your needs and not those of the company trying to sell you on a bundle. 

Take a deep breath, do some research, and don’t rush on any decisions. Good luck!