Best Internet Service Providers in Virginia

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  • Internet Packages Start at $39.95 Per Month
  • Data Cap from 250 GB to Unlimited
  • Television, Phone, and Home Security Services Available

Important Things to Know Before Choosing an Internet Service Provider

The quality of your internet service makes a difference when streaming movies, checking email, video chatting, playing games, and reading the news. No one wants a break in connection at a critical moment. Finding the best internet service at the best price is essential for enjoying your internet access. 

Generally, people prefer high-speed access to the internet. High-speed internet is widely available and generally what people prefer. We’ve put together this buyer's guide to help you better understand how internet service works and what to look for in high-speed internet providers.

Internet Options

Dial-up internet service: This is the oldest kind of internet connection that uses telephone lines. It is usually slow. In some areas, it is the only kind of internet connection available. The broadband speed of internet is much faster.

Broadband internet service: The universal term for a high-speed internet connection. Several kinds of broadband internet service are listed below.

  • DSL: Digital Subscriber Line internet service is run through the phone lines. It downloads at 25 megabits per second. Internet speeds are affected by how close you are to the router. Asymmetric DSL service is usually cheaper, and the download speeds are faster than the upload speeds. Symmetric DSL service is the more expensive, and information is downloaded and uploaded at the same speed. Many broadband providers are also DSL providers.

  • Cable: This kind of internet service is wired through cable lines. With cable internet, your location in relationship to the router doesn’t matter. Instead, the volume of internet users affects the upload and download speed. Cable internet is faster than DSL and satellite internet service. Some cable companies provide their own internet service in addition to cable TV. Other times they work with external internet service providers.

  • Satellite: Satellite internet service is provided via satellite and is the slowest of the broadband options. It is also the kind of internet service that is broadly available, even in rural areas. Depending on where you live, satellite internet providers may be the only option available.

  • FiOS: FiOS is short for Fiber-Optic Internet Service. It is the most recent and fastest internet option, using tiny wires and light to generate its speed and internet service.

Useful Terms

Data cap: This is a limit on the volume of data transferred over the internet by a provider.

ISP: ISP is an abbreviation for internet service provider.

Mbps: Internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).

Modem: The modem connects to the router to provide access to the internet. Modems allow data to be transferred via telephone and cable wires.

Router: Routers direct data to and from the modem, allowing communication between your computer and the internet.

Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is a wireless internet connection.

Wi-Fi hotspot:  Wireless internet access in a specific location. You can usually create your own Wi-Fi hotspot using the data service on your cell phone. Some broadband providers offer their customers access to hotspots as part of their internet service package. These can be useful when you're in an area without access to free Wi-Fi.

How to Choose an Internet Service Provider

Here are a few questions to consider when choosing internet service and a provider:

  • What are your internet needs?
  • What kind of internet service is provided in your area?
  • What speed is available in your area?
  • What are the terms?
  • What is customer service like?
  • Is it reliable?

If you use the internet for important phone calls, online fax, or web design, you’ll want high speed, quality, and reliable service. You'll also want reliable internet with good broadband speed if you have a large or small business with many internet users. 

Internet speeds range between 10 Mbps to 2000 Mbps (2 Gbps). The fastest internet speeds are measured in gigabits per second. One Gbps is the same as 1000 Mbps. While these speeds are the fastest, they are also more expensive. 

The more affordable, faster speeds are in the 100-500 Mbps range.

Make sure you understand the terms of your internet service contract. Ask questions about the fees, data caps, add-ons, and special offers or promotional periods associated with the internet packages you are considering. You may want to take advantage of a promotional period, but you need to understand how your costs will change later. Some internet providers charge a termination fee for early termination of service.

You should also ask about what happens during power outages and ways to prepare for them. You should also understand what options exist for changing internet plans. You can use this information to compare costs across companies. 

When comparing prices for internet plans, you should also consider the speed. While one type of internet may be cheaper, it may not be much more expensive to buy faster internet. Think about the level of patience you have with slow-loading pages.

The internet speed you experience will be affected by the number of devices accessing your network. Ask about the bandwidth offered by your company and what speed it recommends for the number of devices on your internet.

Ask questions about your provider’s commitment to customer service. Technical difficulties come up, and you’ll want to have knowledgeable and helpful customer service.

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How do I setup a router?

Most routers come clearly labeled with step-by-step instructions. Mostly, you just need to connect the router to the modem and choose a Wi-Fi name and password following the prompts on your computer. You can add other security measures, like hiding your network from browsers, after you complete the first steps of the installation. If you have difficulty during the process, customer service should also be able to help you.

What is typically involved with installation?

The installation depends on the internet service you are buying and if your home is setup for the internet already. If all you need is the modem and router, you can do that yourself or have a technician come do it.

Sometimes you may need wiring or a satellite put in, which is a more time-consuming installation. If that is the case, most internet service providers offer installation services.

Can more than one computer share an internet connection?

Yes. The easiest way to share internet between computers is with a Wi-Fi connection. Wi-Fi has become the standard these days.

Do internet service providers offer good enough internet for VOIP?

Most providers offer many package options. When choosing an internet service in connection with VOIP, you’ll need to know how many calls you’ll be making at one time and how much service is necessary. The internet service provider’s representative will be able to help you determine the best package for you.