Things to consider when shopping for an ISP

Things to consider when shopping for an ISP

In our experience supporting our high-speed Internet products, we come across common questions regarding what to look for when shopping for an ISP.

Some of the most common questions are:

Do you guys have contracts?

What am I getting for my money?

Do we have to rent any equipment?

These are excellent questions. They’re also great things to consider during your hunt for an ISP even before you talk to a sales representative.

While we here at Stephouse would love to offer everyone service, sometimes we can’t offer you the best package for your specific needs. For example, we don’t offer television service. If that is something you are looking for, there are a few options. Find what works best for you.

Three things come to mind that are essential to consider when searching for an ISP that will fit your needs.

Bundling and/or contracts

To offer customers lower rates for plans, many ISPs will lock customers into bundles and service contracts that offer more multiple services.

In some cases, this might be just what you need. You might need an affordable phone, TV, and Internet plan to make everyone in the entire household happy. If you don’t want TV or phone service though, bundles might not be for you.

Shopping for Internet service isn’t like shopping for a car – customers don’t get to take it for a test drive and see if it fits. Some plans begin service by having customers sign a service contract, locking them in for a certain amount of time.

Contracts might save money in the long-run, but they do so at the cost of freedom.

What if you don’t like the customer support? What if they don’t meet your expectations? What if something unexpected happens and you can’t afford that plan anymore? Too bad – you signed a contract.

Be aware of consumer level delivery of service

Sure, XYZ corp. might have a 50Mbps package for seemingly cheap prices, but how often are they going to deliver those speeds? One thing many people do not realize is that your typical consumer level Internet package has an “up to” policy.

With Internet plans, there’s no way to guarantee the full speed listed on the package all the time due to fluctuating traffic, interference, and a barrel full of other reasons. Most plans try to get pretty close, hence the “up to” a certain speed part of the deal, but you’ll often be under the top speeds.

For example, An up to 20Mbps service subscription will cap out at 20Mbps, but its actual service level will vary. To guarantee 20Mbps (or whatever your speed plan is) at all times, a customer would need to consider a dedicated plan, which is costly.

If there are certain things you absolutely need to do, you may want to choose a slightly bigger package than you might otherwise choose.

Know your demands and know how much those functions and services use. Keep in mind that Wi-Fi speeds are going to typically be much less than a wired connection, so keep that in mind.

Questions to ask when shopping around:

  • How reliable is that service?
  • How frequently does the service come close to delivering the bandwidth that they have committed to?

Understanding possible equipment rental

One of the most overlooked factors in a typical ISP shopping scenario is equipment. Most companies charge a rental fee for at least the modem, and that charge can anywhere from $7 – $10 per month.

Sure, that might not sound like much at first, but a quick look at the math shows that rental fees end up costing you a ton in the long haul.

If you do end up going with an ISP that charges equipment fees, you can often avoid paying them by doing a little research and buying equipment that you would use in lieu of the rental equipment.

shopping for an ISP

For example: Instead of renting a device for $10 per month, purchase it for its retail price, let’s say $100. After a year of service, you’ll save two months worth of rental fees while owning that network device.

However, the downside is that if you provide your own equipment, the ISP won’t support, replace, or troubleshoot it when the device encounters any issues.


Make sure you know what you are getting when you sign up for service. It’s never a good feeling to open up your bill and realize that you are paying more than you actually expected, but sometimes those additional fees are necessary to provide you with exactly what you need.

Check out our chart to see how Stephouse compares to Comcast and CenturyLink. As much as we’d love your business, maybe we’re not a good fit. Regardless, look over the differences and make sure you know the answers to those questions.

And there you are. That’s our quick list of the most important things to consider when shopping for an ISP. We hope you find everything you are looking for in your ISP and that this helped guide you there.

If you have any tips on finding a good ISP please share them in the comment section below!

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