Whether we like it or not, internet service providers (ISPs) are an essential part of our society these days, providing the IT infrastructure we all need to stay connected. In the United Kingdom – or even just in London alone, there are countless ISPs to choose from; which one to pick can be a minefield. There are a number of different aspects which can be taken into account to make sure you get the services and features which are right for you. Here are some of the most important things to help make a decision:
Uptime is single-handedly the most important aspect when selecting an ISP. You can have the fastest internet connection in the world but if it keeps going down it’s absolutely useless. Don’t just believe the ISP if they claim to have an uptime of 99.99%, check whether they have actual testing results for you to review.Many ISPs claim to give discount on a monthly bill if the network has experienced downtime but it’s simpler to just opt for one that has a proven uptime of at least 99%.
It’s almost impossible to avoid experiencing technical issues at some point. Thus, it’s essential that the technical support department is always easily accessible and has a quick response time. For example, some ISPs are open from Monday to Friday till 7pm. which means that if your network goes down on a Friday night, you won’t be able to reach them until Monday, which is unacceptable whichever way you look at it! Make sure customer support is available 24/7.
Pricing isn’t the most important aspect of selecting a decent ISP but price indication for certain speed levels can be a deciding factor when all of the other features such as support, uptime and performance are pretty similar. Pricing differences are usually connected to the type of modem – whether it’s a rented model, leased or perhaps you have to buy it. Long-term lease contracts can drive up the costs if you calculate it for 5 or 10 years since buying the complete modem outright is often cheaper in the long run.
Download and Upstream Performance
Many users select an ISP based on the download speed performance only. Logically, this is one of the key features ISPs use to promote their services. The best way to determine whether the speed is 20 or 30 Mbps, for example, is to verify any reviews from users in your area or ask around. Similar methods should be used when checking the uploading speed performance.
Many ISPs block certain network ports in order to improve the performance of the overall network. That means that some ports might not be accessible to you. It’s important to have options when it comes to port selection, especially in major cities such as London. Simply put, if a lot of users connect to the same port, the network will be generally slower. So, you want to be able to connect to a port with the least number of users trying to connect in order to optimise your own network performance.
Most people have little or no knowledge of the technical specifications of the different types of modems and routers. It’s therefore useful to have a knowledgeable friend or relative on hand to review the modem supplied by your ISP. If that’s not an option, simply Google the exact serial number of the modem and carefully read the reviews of tech-savvy users to determine its quality. Some ISPs allow users to purchase their own modems, which in most cases is an advantage as ISPs tend to supply medium quality modems to drive down their costs. If you have the opportunity to buy your own, consult with an IT professional (or Google) about which one is right for you.
Making the Final Choice
Once you’ve done all this, you’ll probably end up with a select number of ISPs that tick all the boxes. The following few questions might help with final decision:
- Is the ISP a local based company?
If you opt for an ISP that is located in your area, you can be sure that the service they offer there is swift and accurate. Large ISPs could have a lack of local technicians or other personnel to fix any urgent issues you might have. The difference can be a few hours for local businesses, whilst large companies provide services within 3 working days – in case of any physical router issues, for example.
- Cable or Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)?
Always opt for either DSL connection or glass fiber cable. Other cables can result in highly variable speed performance.
- What’s the total cost?
It’s not just the cost per Mbps that needs to be taken into account but also any (sometimes recurring) additional costs, equipment rental and service costs. Everything, especially “hidden” costs should be carefully reviewed before signing up with an ISP.
This article has been written with help from PixelPrivacy.com. They’re here to show you how to stay safe online, believing that everyone has the power to keep their data secure, no matter their level of tech knowledge!