As I assist people in signing up for Satellite Internet Providers, I sometimes forget how much time and aggravation the rural consumer goes through to find a High Speed Internet Provider in their area.
Here are a few tips and comparisons that may shorten, and hopefully solve some of the headaches associated with trying to find a Broadband Internet Provider.
Cable Internet Providers
Cable Internet providers usually have Internet speeds around 5-megabytes or 5,000-kilobytes. Some of the more well-known providers are Cox, Charter and Comcast. Mainly, these companies will always attempt to bundle all of their services (television, phone and Internet). I would strongly caution against bundling services and here is why. In order to get any type of price break on anything through a cable company, you will be required to carry multiple services. Discontinue one of them and except to have your rates immediately skyrocket. If you have a cable outage, (the average cable company loses service approximately 23-hours per year), you run the risk of being without Internet, television and phone. Cable companies as many of you know are not regulated by anyone and often raise rates regardless of any promotion you may be in.
DSL Service Providers
DSL service providers offer wide ranging speeds, very much faster than dialup providers, but not quite as fast as cable providers. DSL speeds are usually in the 3-megabyte range or 3,000-kilobytes. DSL speeds and prices can vary greatly depending on where you live. Prices for part of your town may be higher than other parts, pay attention for that. Some DSL providers are also starting to bundle services, AT&T, Verizon and Qwest are three that will attempt to bundle a combination of Internet, television and phone. Many will only give an advertised promotional price if you bundle services. The prices are usually significanlty higher if you do not. One thing that all DSL providers have in common though, is the need to run their Internet service through your phone lines and will require you to have a lan-based phone line if you don't already have one. If you go with a DSL provider, you will need to factor the cost of the phone line and taxes, to make sure it makes sense for you.
Wireless Internet Providers
Wireless Providers that require the use of an Air Card are exremely risky. It is impossible to approximate the speed or quality of service. I have personally spoken to countless people who have paid as much as $60.00 to start up with a Wireless provider to find out that they live too far from a cell tower to receive the speeds that were being advertised and in some cases too far to receive a solid signal period.
Satellite Internet Providers
Satellite Internet is a fast growing solution for many rural Americans. The two most popular providers are HughesNet and WildBlue. HughesNet offers speeds of 1-megabyte (1000-kilobytes) to 5-megabytes (5000-kilobytes) and is priced according to the speed you choose. WildBlue speeds range from 512-kilobytes to 1.5-megabytes, (approximately 10 to 30 times faster than dialup). Although HughesNet offers faster and wider ranging speeds than Wild Blue, Hughes is significantly more money to start up and the monthly costs put this service out of range for many families. The speeds though make HughesNet a popular option for businesses. When it comes to service in your home WildBlue is the hands down most popular choice among rural customers. Lower upfront and monthly costs make it a perfect solution for dial-up customers just looking to go faster and get more out of their Internet.
Hopefully this will help a few of you out there just trying to find the right service for you and your family. To sum up, cable and DSL providers will have fast speeds, but will in most cases require other services be added to get the kind of pricing they advertise. Avoid altogether Wireless Providers, great idea, but way too risky. If you are in a rural location where cable and DSL don't or won't provide service, then Satellite Internet Service is the way to go.
No matter what service you choose, it should solve your Internet needs, be cost friendly, work the way it is advertised to work, and above all, be the right fit for you and your family.