Whether you're moving to a new town, or finally taking the plunge and getting online for the first time, the first question on your mind will probably be "How do I find internet providers in my area?"
It's a big decision - you don't want to go to all the trouble of having wiring and equipment installed, and possibly signing a binding contract, only to find out that there were faster, better, or cheaper internet options available to you.
In this guide, I will help you navigate the details of the answer to the question "What is the best internet service provider in my area?"
What Internet Services Are Available in Your Area?
When it comes to the question "What are the internet options in my area code?" the answer will depend largely upon your geographical location. You're probably thinking, well obviously, that's what "internet providers in my area" means. What I'm referring to, however, is whether you live in a rural town, a large metropolitan region, or suburbia. Each of these locations offers a different selection of delivery methods for your online activities. First, I'll take a look at the current technologies available to consumers.
With fiber you get a symmetrical connection - meaning upload speeds are the same as download - and stable wireless high-speed Internet connections.
- Dial-up: The oldest type of internet access is still hanging around. As reported by CNET, the Pew Research Center found that 3% of Americans still go online via their phone line and a 56Kbps connection. 3% may not sound like much, but it amounts to nine million people. The most common reasons cited are living in a location with no internet access to high-speed internet providers, and financial concerns, as dial-up Internet is very inexpensive (about $10/month).
- DSL: This type of broadband Internet connection, Digital Subscriber Line, also utilizes the phone line. DSL Internet, however, is much faster than dial-up, with a potential download speed up to 15Mbps. This high-speed Internet access option is available in many rural areas, although not all areas. CenturyLink DSL is one such package that provides the customer with a DSL connection. CenturyLink DSL offers speeds of up to 40Mbps.
- Satellite: Satellite broadband Internet service is available virtually anywhere you live, no matter how rural, due to the fact that it operates via a satellite dish in geosynchronous space (meaning it's stationary). It can be expensive, however, especially if you use a lot of data. On the plus side, the satellite Internet provider service brings broadband Internet access to rural locations, with one satellite Internet service company providing speeds up to 25Mbps.
- Cable: The most common type of connection is cable, which is a type of high-speed Internet access. The coaxial cable grants you high speeds, up to 100Mbps, and a stable connection for high-demand online tasks. Because the cable internet provider relies on coaxial cable usage, this type of connection is vulnerable to slowdowns due to heavy network traffic, and some users find it a bit on the pricey side. Still, this option tops all others as the connection of choice, likely in large part because no new wiring is required if you already have cable television.
- Fiber: This high-speed internet connection is the newest technology available to consumers, offering speeds of 1000Mbps (also known as gigabit internet) or higher. With fiber-optic cable, you get a symmetrical connection - meaning upload speeds are the same as download speeds, even as wireless internet. It can be pricey, although some providers are already quite competitive with fiber-optic prices. You'll definitely receive wireless high-speed Internet with fiber-optic cable.
Related: Overall, just who are the best internet providers? We have the answer for you here.