How to choose the best internet provider for you

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Internet access is one of the most important parts of your home. It’s now the primary way that people stay connected with friends and family, it makes working from home possible and it allows you to enjoy entertainment through streaming services, online gaming and more.

Choosing a home internet provider, comparing download speeds and upload speeds and wading through the options is enough to make your head spin. Many options might be available in your area, including broadband internet, cable internet providers and even satellite internet providers. You’ll want to consider if your service will enable fast speeds and strong wireless internet connections in your home and which router or modem you might need.

To make things easier, this article provides you with everything you need to know to find the optimum internet service provider for you.

Find a provider with coverage in your area

One of the first things to consider when choosing an internet service provider is whether they offer service coverage in your area. People who live in more rural areas may have fewer ISP options, but there are still quality ISPs that service rural areas. Frontier is a leading provider for some rural areas. You can quickly check online to see if Frontier is available in your area and view internet plans and exclusive offers.

You also can use an internet provider search site to see what options are in your area. HighSpeedInternet.com allows you to simply enter your ZIP code and see a list of providers of residential internet, business internet and mobile internet (including Wi-Fi) in your area.

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Determine the internet speed you need.

Once you've identified available internet providers, you should compare the internet speeds and other details of each. Usually, different speeds are available for different prices. For comparison, you may want to perform an internet speed test so that you know what you’re getting from your current ISP.

Some people simply look for the fastest internet available; however, the fastest speed is not the only factor to consider. Moreover, depending on how you use your internet, by going with the fastest speed you can find, you might pay for something you don’t need and won’t use. Going with the cheapest internet isn’t the best option, either. Cheap internet might be low quality and not usable.

What you actually need for internet speed depends on whether you are mostly using the internet to check your email, stream videos through services like Netflix or participate in online gaming. It also depends on how many internet users are in your home. To help you decide on the right internet speed for you, we explain the speed requirements for different types of internet use below.

Internet for browsing websites & social media

If you plan on primarily using your internet connection for web browsing, checking your email or using social media, you really only need the most basic internet plan. Look for plans that offer 5 to 10 megabits per second (Mbps). For example, Frontier offers a basic internet service at 9 Mbps, which is plenty if you are a light internet user.

Basic plans are ideal for low bandwidth users, single-person households or those who don’t need video streaming, conferencing or internet gaming capabilities. At the 10 Mbps level, some video streaming and casual gaming are both possible. The higher end of the basic tier also works better if you’ll have more than one user at a time accessing the internet.

Internet for multiple devices & video conferencing

You may need an upgraded plan if you have multiple family members who plan on using the internet at the same time or if you need to be able to video conference and stream on one device at a time.

This requires speeds of 15 to 25 Mbps, which you can find in Frontier’s Preferred plan, or you might want to consider a basic fiber internet provider plan. (Fiber internet refers to a broadband connection that uses fiber-optic cables, which enable much faster speeds than cable internet or DSL.) At the upper range of these speeds, more frequent gaming and some HD streaming are possible.

Once you begin needing the internet for uploading and downloading, you should look at upload speeds when deciding on a plan. Uploading is needed for online gaming and video conferencing but isn’t needed as much for streaming media to your devices or for simple internet browsing.

With fiber-optic services, such as Frontier’s FiberOptic Internet plans, upload and download speeds are often equal to each other. With cable and DSL internet, fast download speeds might be coupled with slower upload speeds. Standard video quality upload speeds only need to be about 0.5 Mbps, while high-definition videos usually require 3.0 Mbps.

Frontier ranked #1 in Best Internet Service Providers for Gaming of 2021

By US News & world report

Internet for gaming & streaming HD movies

If your house is full of heavy internet users, online gamers and 4K or HD movie streamers who’d all like to use their devices at the same time, you may want a very fast internet plan. If this is you, look for plans that offer at least 50 Mbps or more. For example, Frontier’s Premium plan offers up to 115 Mbps.

At these speeds, multiple users can simultaneously game or stream high-quality videos. These plans are also great for larger families that might have four or more users accessing the internet at a time. Heavy internet users might also want to consider fiber-optic internet.

0–10 Mbps
  • Good for:
  •  Checking email
  •  Browsing websites
  •  Browsing social media
10–50 Mbps
  • Good for:
  •  Connect multiple devices
  •  Streaming videos
  •  Online gaming for one player
50+ Mbps
  • Good for:
  •  Stream videos in HD
  •  Online gaming for multiple users
  •  Video chat with friends

Fiber-optic internet vs. DSL internet

When choosing an internet service, you might be offered the choice between DSL internet and fiber-optic internet. These two connection types differ in both pricing and speeds available. Also, while DSL is usually available almost anywhere, fiber-optic internet is less widely available in more rural areas, although this continues to change.

DSL stands for “digital subscriber line” and refers to the basic internet transmitted over dedicated phone lines, with signals traveling through copper wire. DSL speeds often max out at around 100 Mbps.

With fiber-optic internet, signals are transmitted in the form of light through fiber-optic cables, which are thin, flexible glass tubes. Fiber optics allow signals to transmit much faster and with less data loss. Fiber-optic internet enables speeds as high as 2,000 Mbps.

Frontier’s FiberOptic Internet, for example, includes plans with max speeds of 50 Mbps, 500 Mbps and even 940 Mbps. With fiber optics, upload speeds and download speeds are often equal.

Fiber internet is an excellent choice for heavy internet users who want low latency and reliable connections for gaming, streaming and more on multiple devices at once. However, it tends to come at a higher price than DSL internet. While it’s great for those who need it, be sure to look into your local DSL provider options so you don’t end up paying for more than you need.

Frontier’s DSL offerings come in three tiers as described, with the top tier offering the ability to stream 4K video and games online. Frontier’s FiberOptic Internet plans also come in three tiers (Base Speed, Faster Speed and Fastest Speed). At all FiberOptic tiers, you can share large files and stream high-quality videos. At the highest tier, you can achieve ultimate gaming performance on multiple devices simultaneously.

Internet pricing

Pricing is a key component when deciding which internet service provider is best for you. The best plan balances the speed and performance you need with the features available from your ISP, all at a price that fits your personal budget.

Exact pricing from any particular provider likely depends on where you live. Use Frontier’s availability checker to see what prices and offers are available in your area and weigh these offers against the other things to consider.

Other things to consider

Beyond coverage areas, speed plans and the monthly price, there are several other things to consider when choosing the best internet service provider for you.

Data caps & overage charges

Some ISPs may limit the amount of data you can use in a month. These plans may either throttle your service (lowering your internet speeds significantly) or charge you extra if you go beyond a certain amount of data. If you think this might be an issue, look for a plan that offers unlimited data. All Frontier plans offer unlimited data with no overage charges.

Annual commitments

Some ISPs require a contract or an annual commitment. While this might mean lower pricing, it can also prevent you from moving to another provider without paying a termination fee if you end up not liking their service.

Tech support for when you need help

Good technical support can make all the difference when it comes to your internet. Look closely at the customer service availability of any ISP you’re considering and check online reviews to see customer satisfaction ratings, as well. Frontier offers 24/7/365 tech support, which means you can get help at any time, day or night.

Bundle with your home phone to save

Providers also offer the ability to bundle other services, such as your cable TV service and home phone, with your internet at a discount. Look into the bundling options offered by ISPs to see what savings are available in your area.

Discover top internet options from Frontier Communications

Hopefully, this article has helped you zero in on what you need from an internet provider. Consider contacting Frontier today to learn more about the internet plan options available where you are.