Top 5 things to consider when choosing an internet service provider

Speed, price, data and availability are all important factors to keep in mind


While we love new customers, we know that satellite service isn’t always the best option for everyone. That’s why it’s important to evaluate a few things to help ensure you’re choosing an internet service provider that best meets your needs.

For most people today, internet service is something we can’t live without. Therefore, choosing the right internet service provider (ISP) is a major decision that can impact your daily routine. We recently sat down with Cynthia York, associate director of product management for Viasat’s residential satellite service, to come up with the following list of the top 5 things to consider when choosing an ISP.

  1. Availability: If you live in a populated urban area, there is most likely a variety of provider and connection choices, including satellite, cable, DSL or fiber. If you live in an area that’s unserved or underserved by traditional ISPs, your choices might be more limited. “This was first on the list because in some rural and outlying areas (skipped by cable or fiberoptic companies), there may be only a few providers and one or two connectivity options,” York said. “It’s important to understand what’s available before you can start thinking about other key factors to consider.” In many of those areas unserved by cable companies, satellite can be an attractive option - and speed, data and reliability have all improved greatly in recent years.
  2. Speed: The next step is to determine how much speed you need, based on the available ISP options in your area. While most of us think we want the fastest speeds we can get, according to York, there’s a lot more to it. “When determining how much speed is necessary, you have to consider how many people will be using the internet at the same time, what they are doing and when they will be doing it,” she said. “For example, a houseful of kids playing games and streaming videos may need higher speeds vs. a couple of people who only use the internet to access social media and chat with family. Answering these questions upfront can go a long way in helping determine the appropriate speed and help save money at the same time.”
  3. Price: Once you have an idea of how much speed you need, the next step is to take a look at the available plans and pricing. York recommends looking for plans that meet your ideal speed needs and then look to find what is affordable. “Higher speeds can sometimes mean higher costs, but a lower speed package may not meet your online needs,” she said. “When evaluating costs, it’s important to look beyond the package price, comparing contract lengths and requirements, special promotions, discounts for bundling services, equipment and installation fees and additional charges that can factor into the monthly cost.”
  4. Data: This is an important factor because data essentially determines how much information and content you can send and receive. “When it comes to data usage, a lot of the same things should be considered as when determining speed. While there are unlimited data plans, they come at a higher cost. Many ISPs have data limits and will charge extra if these limits are exceeded,” said York. Called data caps, these limits can vary from plan to plan. Browsing the web or sending emails won’t typically use much data, while streaming games or videos can quickly add up. When researching your ISP, think about how you use the internet and from there you can estimate your data needs.
  5. Reliability: While many may be tempted to choose the cheapest ISP, it can be a risky proposition. Reliability includes everything from the ability to connect, to downtime, security, customer service and more. York recommends doing your research first. “There are all types of customer reviews out there and an ISP’s reputation is important,” she said. “No matter how fast the speed or how much bandwidth you have, if you can’t connect, it’s not worth it.”

In today’s world, our ability to connect is key to our daily routines. While shopping for and assessing internet plans can be complicated, knowing what to look for can help decode the different options, enabling you to make the ISP choice that best meets your needs.

Learn more about Viasat Residential service

Patti Rutkin is a fierce advocate of the customer experience. As the marketing lead for Viasat’s US residential business, she is responsible for raising awareness about Viasat’s home internet service within the communities it serves.