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Six Basic Questions to Ask an ISP Before Signing Up

When shopping around for broadband, it's easy to fall under the spells of different companies offering almost too-good-to-be-true deals for high-speed internet. If you want to shop smart, you'll want to take a step back and assess the situation.To start with, you can ring these ISPs up and ask more about their services. Here are six basic questions that you can ask them.

  1. What is the Actual Speed?

    The advertised speeds are often just that: advertised. Look for asterisks in the brochures. You can also look out for the key phrase "up to." If the speeds say "up to 10mbps," your actual speed may end up at about 3mbps. You may not feel it if you're not video streaming that much. But if you're fond of watching YouTube videos at 2K resolutions, you're going to have a bad time.

  2. Is It Unlimited?

    Some plans clearly say whether they're unlimited or not. But even if it's unlimited, it may not totally be. While some ISPs provide unlimited internet, there might be capping. For example, you have a 10mbps plan. When you reach your download limit, your speed drops down to 4-5mbps for the rest of the month. Ask the ISP what unlimited actually is, or what it means for them.

  3. What is the Lock In Period?

    Most internet plans require you to sign one to two-year contracts. The best deals may involve longer periods. Unless you've done thorough research on the plan you ask, don't fall into the lock-in trap. Worst-case scenario is you are stuck with terrible broadband for five years and can't get out without paying huge early termination fees.

  4. What Charges are to Be Expected?

    The first months' charges are usually in disarray, especially if you're availing of discounts. Installation fees, modem rentals, and pro-rated bills are to be expected. Higher-end plans, for example, use modem-routers so you don’t have to purchase your own router. Ask the ISP what your first three bills are going to look like if you sign up for their plan and why the charges will be what they are.

  5. What Discounts Can Be Availed?

    Similar to extra charges, there are also discounts available for you. Installation fees are typically waived. If you migrated from another provider, you might also get a discount for the first month. Getting other services from the ISP such as phone or cable, if they have any, can also save you a few bucks. Ask the ISP how else you can save money with them.

  6. How Quick is Your Response Team?

    If you have an online business or if you work from home and you need internet, you will want a stable connection. If an outage happens or if your modem dies, you will want to be reconnected as soon as possible. If the ISP sends one out the day after you call, it's actually good enough. If they don't have a technician for the next three days, it's probably a sign that they have too many technical problems for their technicians to keep up with. Also note that technicians don't usually work on weekends.

Guest Author's Bio:

Zack Bauer is a blogger and web consultant for various companies that specialize in home improvement and landscaping. He occasionally writes about choosing internet and gas providers for the home and encourages others tocompare internet plans and researchingthoroughly before signing any contracts.

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