Should you switch internet providers? 4 things to consider
When you're deciding to switch internet providers, consider price, customer service, reliability and speed.
Maybe your current internet service provider (ISP) just isn't cutting it for your household needs, or you're experiencing frequent service interruptions. Perhaps you keep getting double-billed and can't get a real person on the phone to resolve the issue. Maybe you're on a plan with bandwidth that isn't enough for all of the devices your household uses. Your current plan might be enough for a single smart TV and a couple phones, but you have several phones, multiple TV screens, tablets, gaming systems, security systems and a home assistant. If these problems sound familiar, it may be time to switch internet providers.
The main obstacle to making this switch is that there are limited providers in your area, but you may have more options than you think. Some of those options may be an improvement on your current situation, while others may not. Here are four factors to consider if you're looking to make the switch.
1. Speed and bandwidth
Account for every internet-enabled device in your home and think about how often you use them for activities like video calling or streaming and how often multiple people in your household are doing those activities at the same time. If you're working from home and have multiple video calls a day, you need upload and download speeds that will enable smooth, lag-free calls.
With every potential ISP, look at what speeds they're promising and do a little internet research to see if they meet those speeds, even in homes with lots of connected devices.
Bandwidth dictates how many devices on the network can be used without speeds slowing down. If you live in a densely populated area with lots of fellow workers-from-home, your ISP's bandwidth needs to be able to handle all of these users at one time.
When it comes to cable internet, your connection's reliability is at the mercy of plenty of outside factors, including weather disruptions, electromagnetic field disruptions and how many of your neighbors are also streaming Squid Game. This is generally true regardless of which provider you choose because cable internet uses the same electrical signals transmitted through copper wiring.
A fiber connection like Ting's isn't susceptible to disruptions from weather or a hit show that everyone's watching. Fiber uses lots of tiny glass threads that transmit data via light and can handle many more users at a single time. It also doesn't share its bandwidth with cable TV connections.
Cable internet tends to be cheaper than a fiber connection, and even between cable ISPs there can be quite a bit of variety. For instance, plans that only give you speeds of 25 Mbps will be cheaper than plans that offer 250 Mbps. Fiber connections will generally cost $75 per month or more, while cheap cable plans can start as low as $25.
That said, you'll have to weigh the non-monetary costs of going with a cheaper plan. Your household's internet needs may be greater than the speeds and bandwidth of your plan, leading to slow, unreliable internet when you need it most.
If you're in a contract with an ISP for a certain amount of length, you may be wondering, "Can I switch internet providers mid-contract?" The answer is often yes, but you may have to pay a steep penalty. However, some ISPs will be so hungry for your business that they might buy out your contract with their competitor.
4. Customer service
Cable-based ISPs, which are used to being the only game in town, often have dreadful customer service. Newer companies like Ting put the customer at the center of their businesses, with a vested interest in making it easy for customers to contact them and resolve any issues that pop up, from billing to service questions. When you're choosing a new internet provider, consider how easily you'll be able to reach a real person and whether your issues will be resolved by the provider quickly.
If you're feeling ready to take the next step and switch internet providers, we've got a detailed guide for just that. Upgrade to Ting's fiber internet for service that checks all your boxes.