There’s nothing worse than calling up a movie on your favorite streaming service, or logging into your favorite game, and seeing the word “Buffering” appear on your screen. No one has time to sit and wait for their internet to catch up.
For many, this could mean that it’s time to change internet providers, but before you do this, you should ask yourself a few questions to see if this is really the right move.
It’s possible you can boost your speed without having to make a switch, but it’s equally likely that you simply need something new.
To help you decide, and also to help you get more out of your internet connection, make sure to ask the following:
What Kind of Speed Are You Getting?
To determine if it’s time to change providers, you should probably get an idea of the current situation. This will allow you to better understand the problem and pursue the right solution.
Internet connection speed is measured in megabytes per second (Mbps), which is a measurement of how fast data travels from internet serves to your devices.
Run a speed test on your internet connection to see what you’re currently getting, and then after you’ve made some changes, do it again to see if these tweaks have had an impact.
If they haven’t, then it may indeed be time to make a change.
Here’s a breakdown of what you can do with different levels of connection speed:
- 1-5 Mbsallows for general web browsing
- 5-10 Mbpspermits light video conferencing and standard definition streaming
- 10-30 Mbps makes it easy to stream 1080p high definition videos
- 30-80 Mbps is for intense video communication, such as video conferencing
- 80+ Mbpswill allow you to do pretty much anything, including high definition gaming.
If you’re constantly buffering, it’s likely you’re getting less speed than you need. In this instance, there are a few different things you can do.
How Old Is Your Equipment?
Most of us connect to the internet via WiFi, but WiFi requires a router, and routers have limits. Internet speeds are increasing all the time, which means your router will likely become out of date not long after you get it. Frustrating? Yes. True? Also, yes.
Consider connecting some devices to the modem directly via an ethernet cable. If your connection speed jumps, then this is a sign that your router needs to be updated, and you’ll likely find that doing this will help you get something closer to the internet speed you were promised.
Should this not work, then there are some other things you can do, but this also might be a sign that it’s time to change your internet provider.
How Many Devices Do You Have Connected?
Internet speeds also depend on how many devices are connected to one router or modem. If there’s just one device, then speeds are going to be higher. But no one has just one device these days.
Sometimes devices are connected without us even knowing it. Make sure all your smart devices, such as phones and TVs, aren’t running apps in the background that require an internet connection and try to time your periods of heavy use for when there are less people around.
If these changes aren’t possible, then it’s likely you will have to at least upgrade your connection, if not change providers altogether.
What Type of Internet Do You Have?
Another way to tell if it’s time to change providers is to understand more about the type of connection you’re getting. Here’s a breakdown of the different types so that you can know the potential of each on and whether or not it’s worth changing yours.
Dedicated Service Line (DSL)
This was one of the first forms of high-speed internet. It provides you with an internet connection through your phone lines, and its main advantage is that the connection is yours and yours only. You don’t need to share with others in your area, and this can result in a speedy connection for less money.
But it also means that you likely won’t be able to do much to change the connection speeds you’re currently getting.
Another downside is that speed depends on how far away you are from an ISPs service center. If it’s nearby, then you can get great speeds, but if it’s not close, then your connection will suffer. If you use DSL, or if you’re considering it, then make sure to look into this before making any decisions, as this will help determine if it’s worth it to change or not.
As the name suggests, this type of connection delivers an internet connection through satellites. It’s typically only used in remote areas where there aren’t any other options.
Speeds can be okay, but connections can be finicky. Bad weather can interfere with your signal and cause your connection to slow down. As a result, satellite probably isn’t the best option unless you have no other option. If you’re using it but have access to other connection types, then it’s probably best to change providers.
This is probably the most common connection type, largely because it uses your cable TV modem to deliver internet to your home, and nearly everyone these days has cable.
Overall, connection speeds with cable can be quite good. However, there is one caveat: your connection is shared with others in your area. This means that speeds can slow down during times of the day when lots of people are using the connection, even if those people are living down the street.
Because of this, cable providers often deliver connection speeds that are much lower than what they advertise. But even with this component, cable internet is still a good option for most people.
If you’re not happy with your cable internet speeds, then consider implementing some of the changes discussed above. Then, if this doesn’t work, you’ll know for sure that it’s time to make a change.
Internet connections delivered via fiber optic cables are the fastest and most reliable out there. However, they are not available in all areas. But if they are, then this is the switch you might want to make.
If you have Fios and still aren’t happy with your connection, then check to make sure your equipment is up to date or speak with a representative from your ISP to find out why the connection in your home is not what it should be.
Negotiate and Change
If you get through all of this and still aren’t happy with your internet speeds, then it’s likely time to change. However, change doesn’t always mean going to a new internet provider. ISPs are terrified of losing customers, so if you mention you’re considering switching, you may be able to negotiate for a better connection without paying much more than your current bill.
But your ISP might not be able to do what you want, and if this is the case, then it is indeed time to change. Again, use your negotiating skills to perhaps get installation and equipment fees waived, and don’t be afraid to change again down the road.
The Internet is a necessity, and there is no reason why, in a competitive marketplace, we should have to settle for anything less than exactly what we want.
About the Author: Kevin is the founder and CEO of Broadband Search, which is an online platform dedicated to helping people find the best value internet connection in their area. As a small business owner, he got started doing this because he saw first-hand how much an internet connection can affect a business. But now he is just as interested in helping individuals get the most out of this much needed utility.
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