How Do I Find The Best Internet Provider In My Area?
Looking for internet service? Whether you’re moving into a new home, opening up a business, or just looking for something faster and more reliable than what you currently have, you’ll want to find the very best provider in your area.
So which is the best provider? This depends on where you live, what’s available, and what you need. Here are some tips for choosing a local internet service that’s right for you.
What are the best internet providers in my area?
Because of the way that the infrastructure works for internet service – whether you have cable, fiber, or another type of connection – your options will always depend on your geographical area. Some regions may only have one or two options for ISPs, whereas larger metro areas often have a more varied selection of providers.
What should I look for in a good local internet provider?
So what should you look for in an ISP? Here are some of the main criteria that you can compare to figure out which provider, type of connection, and plan is the best for meeting your needs.
- Speed. Nothing is more frustrating than Netflix streams pausing to buffer for minutes on end, or having your connection slow to a crawl during a heated League of Legends match. You may not need the fastest internet out there on the market, but adequate speeds are essential for a smooth online experience. (Fiber offers the fastest speeds of any type of internet service.)
- Reliability. Along with overall speed capabilities, reliability is another big factor for internet service. You want a connection that’s dependable and seldom, if ever, cuts out or loses connection.
- Symmetrical upload and download speeds. You’ll only get this feature with fiber internet, but it can be a game changer. Unlike cable internet, fiber allows you to upload data at the same fast speeds that you can download data.
- No data caps. In today’s increasingly digital world, most of us need all of the data and bandwidth we can get! It’s a good move to avoid options that come with troublesome data caps. (With Fidium, you’ll always get unlimited data, without any caps or throttling.)
- Cost effectiveness. Cost is also a factor in what ISP and plan are the best fit for you. It may not make sense to pay extra for ultra-fast speeds if you’re on a tight budget – you’ll want to find the best balance of features and speed with accessible pricing.
What are my options for different kinds of internet connections?
As we’ve mentioned, this will vary depending on your location. With that said, there are just a handful of types of internet service, each of which uses a different set of technologies and infrastructure to deliver data and connect your devices to the web.
- Fiber optic internet. Fiber is a newcomer to the internet service market, using light signals in glass fiber optic cables to transmit data faster than any other type of service. Fiber is an excellent choice if you’re looking for the fastest speeds, along with great reliability and low latency. Unfortunately, though, it isn’t always available everywhere – as it’s a new technology, fiber optic infrastructure is still in the process of being built and expanding throughout the US.
- Cable internet. This is the most common, standard kind of internet connection. Available through companies like AT&T and Comcast, it uses the same infrastructure as cable television, with the two services often bundled together. Cable connections can reach pretty decent speeds, but can come with issues like throttling and slowing during peak hours. Learn more about the differences between cable and fiber.
- DSL. DSL is an older internet technology, with lower speeds than other options. These days, DSL connections are relatively rare. Learn more about the differences between DSL and cable.
- 5G home internet. This is a newer option, available from a small number of select providers. It’s not the same as simply using your 5G phone’s hotspot – instead, it’s its own stand-alone internet service that’s limited to your home or business premises. 5G home internet can offer higher speeds than cable, though not as impressive as fiber’s speeds. Learn more about the differences between 5G and fiber.
- Satellite internet. Satellite internet is usually a last resort, as its speed and reliability are considerably lower than just about any other option. In some rural areas, however, it may well be the only option you can find.
What are the fastest internet providers in my area?
If fiber is available in your area, it’s hands-down the fastest option for internet service. There’s hardly any contest – between all of the different connection types, fiber blows the others out of the water in terms of the kinds of speeds it can reach.
Fidium offers fiber plans with speeds of up to 2 Gigs, some of the fastest on the market. (For comparison, a typical recommended minimum for smooth browsing is generally somewhere around 100 Mbps, 1/20th of the speed that Fidium can reach.)
Fiber’s typical average speed tends to be around 1 Gig – substantially higher than cable’s usual speeds, and more than sufficient for even very demanding and data-heavy internet use.
Unfortunately, fiber isn’t available everywhere. In places that don’t have fiber optic infrastructure yet, cable is usually the standard go-to choice for internet service. With around 88% coverage within the United States, there aren’t many places that don’t have cable internet available.
Cable internet speeds usually range from around 10 Mbps on the lowest end, up to a high end of around 500 Mbps. (Though it’s relatively rare for most cable services to actually reach that kind of speed.)
If fiber isn’t available in your area, but you’re looking for something faster than cable, you can also consider 5G home internet. 5G’s average speeds are higher than cable’s, though not quite as impressive as fiber.
The best internet options for home use: streaming, gaming, and more
The best internet option for you, as we’ve mentioned, can depend on how you usually use the internet. Here are some tips for finding the best providers for things like video streaming, gaming, and more.
The best internet for online gaming
When it comes to online gaming, speed and low latency are what you want to look for. For most online games, a recommended minimum internet speed is around 200 Mbps for smooth performance.
If it’s available in your area, fiber is hands down the best choice for gamers. Not only is it a lot faster than other options, but its low latency is a major plus.
The best internet for cord cutters: Netflix, Youtube, TV, Amazon Prime, and more
If you’re like a lot of people – maybe most people nowadays – you’ve probably cut out cable service in favor of streaming instead.
For a smooth streaming experience – without lag, or pausing to buffer right as your show is starting to get good – it’s usually recommended that your internet can maintain speeds of at least 100 Mbps as a minimum. (With that said, though, 200 Mbps or more is ideal.)
Fiber’s high speeds, lack of data caps and throttling, and top-tier reliability make it the top option for cinephiles and TV enthusiasts.
The best internet for rural areas
In rural areas, you’ll often find that your ISP options are unfortunately very limited. Much of the rural United States is underserved when it comes to internet service, with poor coverage.
In a worst case scenario, even cable may not be available. (In which case, you could opt for satellite internet, or rely on a 4G LTE or 5G hotspot with unlimited mobile data.)
Fortunately, there’s hope for the future! There’s been an increasing initiative to expand fiber optic infrastructure and access into these underserved rural areas, providing residents with top tier speeds and great reliability.
The best internet for apartments
Apartments and condos, like single family homes, can benefit immensely from fiber optic internet’s impressive speeds and rock solid reliability.
The best internet for college students
No one wants to deal with their internet connection slowing down or cutting out *right* as you’re taking an online exam or trying to turn in a term paper. For students, fast and reliable internet service is a must.
You can’t get much better than fiber – and despite its impressive speeds, you don’t have to break the bank, either. Fiber is actually surprisingly affordable.
The best internet for digital nomads
This might be one of the very few scenarios where fiber may not be the best option. If you’re very mobile and travel a lot, it may actually make the most sense to use 5G mobile data via a hotspot.
The best internet options for businesses (including home offices)
So we’ve talked about residential internet service, but what about internet options for businesses?
The best business internet for commercial offices and facilities
If you have access to fiber internet, it’s hands-down the best option for your business. Not only is it the fastest, but its reliability can’t be beat – no need to worry about internet outages disrupting your ability to work.
The best business internet for home offices
Working from home? Fidium’s business fiber plans – which offer some additional support, features, and speed versus residential plans – are a top tier choice.
The best internet for day trading
As a day trader, you need a constant, fast, reliable internet connection to stay on top of the markets. For that, you can’t go wrong with fiber optic.
For home internet, business use, and more, fiber wins out as the superior internet option.
While there are occasional exceptions, for the most part, fiber optic internet can’t be beat when it comes to speed and reliability – all at affordable, competitive price points that won’t break the bank.
Ready to make the switch? Click here to find out if Fidium Fiber is available near you!