How does one determine the “best” internet or TV provider available to her? Relax, we’ve done a lot of the research for you, narrowing it down to all of the best Internet service providers and cable providers currently on the market. All providers serve only specific areas and your speeds, prices, and connection types will vary. This article will guide you along on some of the basics and breakdown the differences of some of the top providers, it is imperative you research which providers serve the area you live in to get a truly accurate comparison. But the following represents all of the attributes you'll be considering when you make your decision.
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What Makes a Cable TV or Internet Provider “The Best”?
When searching for a good TV or ISP provider you want to look at download speeds, prices, data allowance, channel allowance, bundles or deals, and customer service rankings. A good cable or ISP provider is one that will offer you fast download speed, with enough data to support the needs of your household, and all for a fair price. A provider that allows you to bundle your services for an even bigger discount is a huge plus, and one that won’t lock you into any contracts for a reliable connection and fair prices is truly a gem!
Many ISPs have partnered with various TV providers as a way to offer competitive packages and services to their customers. This is important because the way in which we watch our favorite television shows have changed drastically over the years. We no longer live in a world where the only option is to deal with carefully placed antennas on our rooftops and large box TV sets, watching whatever show the broadcast TV station has determined will air at that particular time. We are no longer arranging our entire week around being home every Tuesday evening for the newest episode of our favorite seasonal show. We have been given the luxury of streaming whatever shows we want to watch when we want to watch them and skipping out on the rest. No longer held captive by lengthy advertisements and commercials or primetime airing schedules, cable providers have to be smart with what they offer because the options are now seemingly endless.
So, while it’s unlikely you’ll find an ISP who can offer you more than one cable provider option, look for an ISP who has partnered with a cable package that fits your needs. If you like DISH or DIRECTV there are ISPs who have partnered with them. If you like traditional cable with OnDemand options for viewing only your favorite shows, there are ISPs that offer that as well. Many ISPs are also offering a build-your-own type package, allowing customers to choose which channels they want to watch while opting out of paying for ones they don’t.
Who has the Best Customer Support? Are they really “Near You”?
Most ISPs across the country have a nagging reputation for being poor at customer satisfaction. And many comparison sites and articles give ISP and cable providers a pass when it comes to poor customer service rankings, but we don’t think they should. While customer service and customer satisfaction have been a longstanding weak point for most ISPs, this is no longer an area where customers are willing to turn a blind eye. With an increasing number of providers offering very similar services and prices, in some instances, a solid customer care and support team is the only thing setting them apart. Additionally, in this day and age, our lives have become very dependent upon having a reliable Internet connection. Our social circles, entertainment, employment, and standards for comfortable living are all highly dependent upon having a reliable and speedy Internet connection. So why give a pass on poor customer service and support for such an important piece of our lives?
Therefore, one of the first tells of a good Internet or cable provider is how easily you are able to contact them to compare their services and prices with others in your area. If it takes you an excessive amount of time to get through, only to be met with an irritable customer service rep who is annoyed by your list of comparison questions, that should be an immediate sign of what your customer service and support will be like should you choose to go with that provider. Whether you call in or engage in an online chat, one of the first things we recommend you look for is a provider who is willing and eager to answer your questions about their services. A representative who is eager for your business, and who is friendly and helpful.
Finding the Best Price Point & Fastest Internet for Your Needs
One of the biggest factors for most people when choosing an ISP is download speeds and price points. Some of the best ISPs such as CenturyLink, AT&T and Cox offer a download speed of up to 1000 Mbps. Frontier and Xfinity offer similar speeds, and Xfinity boasts a download speed of 2000 Mbps, extremely fast, but from what we can tell this is only available in very select areas. Verizon comes in just shy of 1000 Mbps with their fastest speed maxing out at 940 Mbps, and companies like Spectrum only offer a download speed of 200 Mbps.
When viewing download speeds, don’t get too excited about the high Mbps numbers being thrown at you until you view the prices that come with that option. For example, remember that fancy 2000 Mbps plan Xfinity boasts about we mentioned above? Well, their package pricing also ranges from $29.99 all the way up to $299.95, while most other companies most expensive package tops out around $120. Spending $300 for Internet service, regardless of download speed, is expensive and excessive for most households. Therefore, don’t sign up for a speed you don’t actually need – it’s not worth your money. Decent download speeds for an affordable average price is what you should look for and is what will adequately support most households Internet needs.
Who has the Best Bundles & Gifts?
Another deciding factor for a lot of customers across the nation is a great bundle deal. Many large ISPs either own or have partnered with great TV providers, offering customers huge deals on TV services if they use their Internet connections. For example, AT&T owns DIRECTV, making them a powerhouse of bundles and deals among ISPs in the United States. Bundling your cable and Internet will not only save you money each month, but it also allows you to only have one monthly bill and one company to deal with should problems or questions arise. When shopping for bundles and deals look for companies who offer decent monthly discounts if you combine services with them, coveted gifts such as free channels or HBO and Showtime upgrades, as well as options to customize your channel packages to fit the needs of your household.
Consider Data Caps
One area that isn’t talked about a lot but it is important when choosing a provider is data caps. A lot of ISPs will boast about large data caps but then have costly hidden costs that kick at the moment you go over. Other providers offer unlimited data, with no caps, but what they don’t openly tell you unless asked is that they drastically slow your download speed once you reach a certain amount of data. Inquiring about data caps and everything that comes along with those is another important feature to look into when choosing a provider. Companies like Xfinity, AT&T and Cox offer 1 TB of data, which is PLENTY for most households. Others such as Frontier, Optimum and Spectrum offer unlimited data plans, but be sure to read the fine print about your download speed once you reach a certain plateau of data used.
Finding the “Best of the Best”
Choosing a cable or Internet provider can be time-consuming if you research them thoroughly. But there are big savings out there just waiting to be found by consumers who are willing to take the time to dig around for them. Don’t be shy to tell your ISP you are shopping prices and comparison shopping their services to others, it may be just the thing they need to hear to sweeten your deal with them, and if not – there are plenty of options out there for you to switch to. It's tough to declare a “winner” or “best of the best” for any of the above attributes.
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