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Internet Service Providers
March 28th, 2022
Internet Service Providers
March 19th, 2021
Internet Service Providers
August 17th, 2020
We have 3,164 customer reviews in our Internet Service Provider category — 1,162 are 1 star. It’s frustrating for consumers: 50 million U.S. homes have just one 25 mbps service provider, if that. And 48 percent of homes have only one 25 mbps choice. The lack of options and availability has many Americans stuck with a provider they believe is delivering subpar service. Most categories on our site average around one-third of reviews being 1-star, so the ISP category is slightly above average. We sampled 124 of these 1-star reviews to see what insights — and warnings — they had for other consumers and the industry itself. Here’s a summary of our findings. Below, we’ll give our analysis and tips on avoiding your own 1-star experience: *All reviewers and company names have been removed in the examples below because this study deals with general ISP concerns. If you would like to research a specific company, check out our ISP reviews. General insights Every industry’s reviews has its quirks. For the ISP category, we noticed a couple interesting trends. ISP reviews are long, and they have stories to tell. Reviewers in some other industries might summarize their points more concisely. But for the aggravations of internet companies, many reviewers feel the need to outline their grievances in detail. Frustration A leads to Frustration B, and so on. It becomes a domino effect of bad experiences. Which leads us to our second interesting finding: One third of 1-star reviewers cited a single negative experience that prompted their review. A customer might try to solve a service outage, and they’re put on hold for three hours. Or a customer might want a new modem, and they play phone tag for days. These prompt scathing responses on our review site. This is a compelling data point. Some reviewers even note they were loyal customers for years before the negative experience that prompts their review. Whatever positive experiences this user might have had to make them stay with the company for eight years, this evaporated with one issue. Adam Thompson of ReliaSite notes one potential reason for this occurence. “Research has found that it takes 40 positive customer reviews to outweigh a single negative review," he says. "ISPs, by nature, are more likely to generate negative experiences than positive experiences. That’s because your internet service provider is invisible unless/until something goes wrong. . . This makes it nearly impossible for an ISP to generate the needed 40 positive experiences for every 1 negative experience, meaning that they have an overall negative perception.” Singular negative experiences are less of a concern in categories where users are not locked into a contract or subscription service and where they don’t use a company’s tool on a near-daily basis. For one-off purchases like a logo or hotel, the transaction is often limited to that singular experience, and it’s not unusual if one terrible design or one messy room prompts a bad review. But if you’re a return customer for well over a year and it turns sour in a day, this highlights how vitriolic a negative interaction is with an internet company. Customer service matters. 61% of 1-star reviews complain of poor customer support One of the most common complaints across all categories is poor customer service. If you have an issue, you want it resolved as painlessly as possible. But complaints against ISP customer service are particularly scathing. It’s a familiar story: a customer plays phone tag with their provider for days, waits on hold for hours, faces a maze of automated phone trees, and eventually reaches a customer service rep who can’t help them. These sorts of stories are common in internet company reviews. There are dozens of tools to improve customer service. Users have several options for contacting a company. But has all of this become overwhelming when dealing with internet companies? Are the monopolies on internet service causing call centers and customer support to be overloaded with more users than they can help? As with most things ISP, there’s only so much you can do on your end to ensure you have a positive experience with your provider. But here are some tips that might get you a helpful customer service rep: Read company reviews. Some internet service providers have even worse customer response than others. We have user reviews for dozens of ISPs, categorized by state. See what other customers are saying. Test out a company’s support system before you sign a contract. Try contacting a customer service rep. See how long it takes you to get ahold of someone. Check their phone trees. Are they helpful or confusing? Can you call at any time, day or night? What are other options for contacting them, such as text, in-person, or email? If it’s already frustrating to contact them, imagine how irritating it’ll be when you have a time-sensitive issue. 35% of 1-star reviews complain of unreliable connection Your connection goes in and out, sometimes for hours. Stable internet connection is necessary in today’s world, and it makes sense that this is enough to land ISPs a 1-star review. And sometimes, it’s truly no one’s fault: you live in a dead zone or there’s interference. But other times, you really should blame your ISP. Here’s what you can do to reduce spotty connection and prevent a terrible experience with your internet company: Make sure the problem isn’t on your end. Americans in general don’t know much about troubleshooting their connectivity issues. Sometimes an intermittent Wi-Fi signal is the fault of a budget router or an overload of devices. Do your own troubleshooting, document what you’ve tried, and take your issue (with evidence!) to your ISP when all else fails. That way, they can’t blame the issue on you if you’ve done your homework. Explain the issue as best you can. When is the internet going out? How many people are home? How long does it stay out? Answering these questions can inform the severity of the issue and what measures to take against it. If your ISP is still apathetic, try explaining your extenuating circumstances. Let them know if you work from home or if your internet access is essential. If you have competitors in your area that you could take your business to, mention this. Leverage your knowledge to get the solution you need. 27% of 1-star reviews complain of less than advertised speeds Similar to the issue of unreliable connection, you can have unreliable internet speeds. It’s normal to get a little less than your advertised speed. Your mbps can vary by connection type (Wi-Fi or wired), channels (2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz), router capabilities, the type of speed test you run, and more. But if you're only getting almost a third of your advertised speed, even when you test these variables? That’s no good. Our tips to prevent this issue will be similar to those addressing an unstable connection: Do your homework before you take the issue to your ISP. You can test different locations for your router, different devices, and QoS (quality of service) settings. Document your findings. This will save you and your ISP a lot of time when you need to speak with customer service. They won’t have to bore you with the “Have you tried turning your router off and on again?” spiel. Explain the competitors' offerings. Does your current company have competitors offering higher speeds? Suggest you will take your business elsewhere. Negotiate a solution to get a quick response.“In today’s world, where everything can be tailored to what I need, internet service providers are the strongholds refusing to adapt,” Leslie Kiel from Insurantly.com asserts. “Because it’s no longer seen as a commodity but a way of life, we are willing to subject ourselves to outrageous business practices. I played the game for a few years: call in to complain, wait for hours, threaten to cancel my service, and then get a credit to my account. After a while though, I realized I could get the same quality from a lesser-known company.” Threaten to cut the cord. Dennis Restauro of Grounded Reason suggests that you can still take control of your situation even if your ISP is the only good provider in the area. Consumers can set a cancellation date for their ISP, not really intending to cancel, and see if the provider will offer a promotional deal, perhaps with higher advertised speeds. “Even if your area lacks competition, this trick may get your current provider to renew your promotional rate,” he suggests. “This is one way consumers can take power back from their ISP.” 26% complain of price transparency and gouging issues; 15% complain of added fees One in four 1-star reviewers believe their ISPs are price gouging, creating fees not outlined in a contract, or scamming them out of money; 15 percent are unhappy with all the extra fees clogging up their bill. When you're a company that doesn't have competition, you can set whatever price you please. For the lucky Americans who live in regions with multiple high-profile providers, you have some leverage: Negotiate your contract. Know what your competitors are charging for their packages. See if you can bundle services for a lower cost. Read your contract, no matter how boring the fine print is. If you want clarity, ask a rep outright what a term from your contract means. Don’t be rushed into any deal without knowing whether there are cancellation fees, equipment fees, or other extra charges. Ensure that any promotional deals you receive over the phone are also obtained in writing. In a worst-case scenario, take legal action. Lauren Sliter of Radvocate provided this advice: “Your options as a customer depend on the severity of the case and the fine print in the contract with your ISP. Many companies require you to resolve disputes with them through individual arbitration.” 25% of 1-star reviews complain of missed or unhelpful technician visits Have you ever called a technician out and wondered why you even bothered to schedule an appointment? Some consumers say their technician never showed up. Sometimes the technician can’t find an issue. This complaint is in the same vein as poor customer support, but the difference is that these in-home visits are supposed to come to the source of an issue and tackle the problem. Not all industries can come to your home to straighten matters out. But consumers wish these technicians would spend more time searching for their problem or working to solve it. Many of these techs are on tight schedules and are booked for days or even weeks out. If they have only thirty minutes to address your spotty connection, they might have to come back later. And who knows when “later” may be? While ISPs should provide more technicians to address consumer complaints, consumers themselves can take a few steps that might lead to a more positive experience with a service tech: Be flexible. Most customers will want their techs to visit on weekday evenings or weekends. If there’s any possibility you can be available at another time, take the chance. Openings can be rare, so seize an opportunity. Check in with your tech. If you can, call the tech or the representative who sent them to ensure the appointment is still happening. Some customers complain that their tech never showed up, and customer service claimed the appointment had been cancelled. Spend time with your tech. Ask them what they think is the issue and see what they do to resolve it. Maybe next time, the problem is something you could fix yourself. Otherwise, you can inform any future techs what the last servicer did to remove the issue. The takeaway In the case of negative ISP reviews, there’s often much more at play than the fault of an intemperate customer. Lack of competition is giving internet service providers leverage over their customers. ISPs have a history of buying out the competition and suing startup companies that threaten their service regions. Some ISPs don’t care that their customer service is bad, their prices are unreasonable, or their connection is spotty. A lack of alternatives will allow them to retain customers. It might not hurt to try a local company or smaller provider, or it might be best to stick with some of the few major providers with a track record of success. But whatever you do, be aware that your options are limited, and unless high-level change occurs, it’s likely to stay this way. Try to use the tips we've provided to your advantage when resolving a problem with your ISP.
You have a checklist of considerations running through your head before every livestream: How’s your mic? Is your environment clean? Have you optimized your computer’s settings? But perhaps the most volatile, unpredictable, and exasperating element of streaming is internet service. You’re held at the mercy of a tenuous connection from your faceless ISP, who could graciously grant a steady stream or a series of internet shortages. And if you’re new to streaming, you could also be new to maximizing your connection. But it really doesn’t have to be so intimidating. Many streamers face their own challenges finding the right provider or choosing the correct internet equipment. We’ll nail down the basics for you so you have one less thing to worry about. How do I choose a provider for streaming? Selecting an internet provider isn’t as easy as it looks. Many providers make it difficult to check the availability in your area (without first submitting your email address and phone number, of course), and a majority of regions in the United States only have two providers offering 25 mbps or more. Because of the low competition, providers have little incentive to improve customer service, streamline setup, or offer their advertised speeds. That means the responsibility to choose wisely falls on you, and there’s only so much you can do. To start, find the servicers in your region. BroadbandNow allows you to search for providers by ZIP code without submitting your personal information. It also details what type of connection you could be getting with that provider. Which types would be best for gaming? “Fiber services often offer the fastest simultaneous upload and download speeds,” Tyler Cooper of BroadbandNow explains, “but many cable providers can also meet the needs of most streamers.” Most experts agree that you’ll want at least 25 mbps download speed. However, some experts even suggest that you should up the speed based on device usage, number of household members, and number of devices in the home. High Speed Experts and Allconnect both have guides on your speed needs based on your device activity, if you’d like to take a closer look. Then you’ll need to take into account customer service, the actual versus advertised speed, contract lengths, and whether there are frequent service shortages. Read some reviews to get a feel for public opinion. High speeds and low prices can only get you so far if you have poor customer service and hidden fees to deal with. You may already be researching your options for gigabit fiber internet, but Twitch streamer Shawna Howson (ShawnaForLunch) explains that this hasn’t been necessary in her own situation. “In my area, it's impossible to get fiber,” she says, “so I still have a pretty basic package. Making sure you have a decent upload speed is the most important thing.” So that will be the pièce de résistance: your upload speed. What upload speed do I need to stream? While your download speed controls all incoming activities, your upload speed affects everything outgoing, including your stream. This can be a lot lower than the download speed, and with most providers, it will be. If you want to stream at 720p with 30 fps, aim for a minimum upload speed of 6 mbps. Your ideal speed will vary based on your desired quality and method of encoding, but for many beginning streamers, these settings are an ideal sweet spot between high quality and low latency. However, it’s best to play it safe and have more mbps rather than less. “As a baseline, I'd recommend a minimum upload and download speed of 15 mbps for anyone looking to get into video game streaming,” Cooper suggests. “Nearly every national provider has plans that meet this threshold, but be sure to do some research into what is available in your area to get the best service possible.” Twitch streamer PapaXilion shares his take with us on a minimum upload speed: “A real minimum is 2000kbps/2mbps . . . Anything below that will definitely impact your stream quality — you'll lose frames, or get really pixelated/blurry.” How can I make sure my internet connection is fast and stable? While you can still fall prey to connection errors on your ISP’s end, there are some actions you can take to make sure you aren’t the reason your stream is lagging. First, check to see if you’re getting your advertised speeds. Gustavo Carvalho from Copahost suggests using speedtest.net. “It has multiple locations and allows you to test your connection wherever you need,” Carvalho explains. Next, test your ping rate. Your ping rate will determine your connection’s reaction time, and High Speed Experts will teach you how to check your ping. Even with a fast download and upload speed, your ping rate and latency could impact stream quality. Use a wired connection. PapaXilion suggests that “if you are on wireless, or using really old network cables (or an old router), maybe it's time to invest in new hardware. Cables don't cost much and can make a difference, as can a new router.” Hardware drifts into obsoletion fairly quickly these days; it’s worth checking to see if your ethernet cable is an issue. But if you can’t get a wired connection, don’t sweat it. “I use a wireless connection,” Howson tells us. “It's widely known that a wired connection is more reliable by far. Unfortunately, my streaming area makes it difficult to do this, so I work within my circumstances. I have had the occasional issue, but it's minimal enough for me to get by, and it rarely detracts from my work as a part-time streamer.” You might be more likely to run into hiccups without a wired connection, but that shouldn’t stop you from streaming. If you do choose to go wireless, you can use QoS settings to prioritize your device. Or, you can try Howson’s method: “I do have a separate, prioritized access point to my network for my streaming device to put the stream first in the house, as multiple people use the internet,” Howson explains. This could be ideal for streamers living with housemates or family. Another way you can prevent housemates from hogging the internet is by creating house rules. “Make agreements on what you can and can't do,” PapaXilion advises. “If someone starts uploading their latest YouTube video while you stream, it's gonna hurt.” We cover more on housemate agreements in our apartment internet guide. But most importantly, even if you don’t have the fastest internet or the most expensive tools, don’t be discouraged. Many regions of the United States have limited options for internet packages with quality upload and download speeds. “I wouldn't discourage anyone from streaming if they have a bit less,” Howson says. “You may run into the occasional issue, but it shouldn't stop you from working with what you have.” Read also: How to Improve Wi-Fi and Internet Speed in an Apartment
Everyone wants the best internet service at the best possible price. As the industry develops, the technology changes and allows for faster and faster internet speeds. When setting up your internet service, you want to be sure that you will have the speed you need, a price that fits your budget, and good internet security. There are many internet service providers. Each has different offerings that may vary zip code to zip code. We’ve done the the research to provide you with a side-by-side comparison of CenturyLink, Cox, and Xfinity. Which company is the best? While all three companies offer competitive speeds and internet service plan options, CenturyLink stands out for its Price for Life plans that do not require contracts. High speed internet Internet speed is generally measured in megabits per second (Mbps). It’s how fast data can be downloaded to your computer or your TV. Some of the fastest speed available are measured in gigabits per second (Gbps). 1000 Mbps is the same as 1Gbps. The speeds offered by each company usually vary location to location, so the fastest speeds may not always be available in your area. Check the service provider’s website to determine what speeds are available to you. Internet speed is also affected by how many devices are using the internet at a given time and can be affected by power outages and weather. What speed do I need? The speed you need depends on several factors including the number of devices on the internet and what the internet is being used for. BroadbandNow recommends 25 Mbps for most people. Video gamers may need more speed for online games. What speeds are available? CenturyLink 20 Mbps 40-80 Mbps 100-140 Mbps 1000 Mbps Cox 10 Mbps 30 Mbps 100 Mbps 300 Mbps 1000 Mbps Xfinity 15 Mbps 60 Mbps 150 Mbps 250 Mbps 400 Mbps 1000 Mbps 2000 Mbps How expensive is internet service? Internet providers charge a monthly fee for service. These fees vary based on location and internet speed purchased. Most companies require a certain kind of modem or router for setting up secure wireless internet. The equipment can be rented with an additional charge per month or can be bought at the beginning of the contract. Other one time fees include an activation fee and an installation fee. If the internet service is purchased with a contract, customers will pay an early termination fee for ending their service early. Monthly costs at a glance CenturyLink Up to 20 Mbps: $45 Up to 40-80 Mbps: $55 Up to 100-140 Mbps: $65 Equipment Rental: $10 Cox 10 Mbps: $49.99 30 Mbps: $66.99 100 Mbps: $87.99 300 Mbps: $104.99 1000 Mbps: $119.99 Equipment Rental: Undisclosed Xfinity 15Mbps: $49.95-$51.95 60 Mbps-1000 Mbps: $59.95-$66.95 + upgrade surcharge 2000 Mbps: $299.95 Equipment Rental: Undisclosed How much does CenturyLink cost? CenturyLink has three Price for Life plans. These plans are month-to-month and the rate remains fixed for as long as a customer stays with CenturyLink. Monthly rates for the Price for Life plans vary based on speed. The prices listed here do not include applicable taxes or equipment rental fees: Up to 20 Mbps: $45/month Up to 40-80 Mbps: $55/month Up to 100-140 Mbps: $65/month CenturyLink also offers an online deal for fiber internet with 1000 Mbps for $65 per month. Customers who choose to rent equipment from CenturyLink will be charged an additional $10 per month in rental fees. Alternatively, customers can purchase equipment upfront. The upfront cost can be as much as $150. CenturyLink allows customers to self-install the internet or have it professionally installed for $125. There is no early termination fee with CenturyLink, because its internet service is month-to-month. The total cost, excluding taxes, for the first month with CenturyLink is between $55-$340 depending on the services requested. How much does Cox cost? Cox offers five internet plans to residential consumers. These plans come with a one-year contract. If customers prefers a no-term service agreement, they can pay an extra $10 per month for month-to-month service. The prices below do not include applicable taxes, month-to-month fee, or equipment rental: Cox Internet Starter 10 (10 Mbps): $49.99/month Cox Internet Essential 30 (30 Mbps): $66.99/month Cox Internet Preferred 100 (100 Mbps): $87.99/month Cox Internet Ultimate (300 Mbps): $104.99/month Gigablast (1000 Mbps): $119.99/month There are discounted prices available for new customers. These discounted prices only last the first 12 months. Cox’s activation fee, installation fee, equipment purchase fee, and monthly equipment rental fees were not disclosed on its website. Interested customers will have to contact Cox directly for more information regarding these fees. Cox does allow customers to use non-Cox equipment as long as it meets its requirements. Customers who choose to have a contract for their internet will be subject to an early termination fee if they end the contract early after the first 30 days. This fee can be up to $120. How much does Xfinity cost? Xfinity has three main internet plans. Most of its internet plans require a one-year contract. Some plans have the option to be contract-free with an additional $10-$35 per month depending on the speed. Most plans that are contract free cost an additional $20 per month. The monthly prices listed below are for one-year contracts (unless otherwise noted) and do not include applicable taxes or additional fees. Performance Starter Internet (15Mbps): $49.95-$51.95/month Performance Plus Internet (60 Mbps-1000 Mbps): $59.95-$66.95/month With 150 Mbps can upgrade to Performance Pro Internet for extra $15/month With 250 Mbps can upgrade to Blast!® Pro Internet for an extra $30/month With 400 Mbps can upgrade to Extreme Pro for an extra $45/month With 1000 Mbps can upgrade to Gigabit Pro Internet for extra $60/month Gigabit Pro Internet (2000 Mbps): $299.95/month (2-year contract) Xfinity also provides discounted promotional rates to new customers. These rates last one or two years depending on the specific terms of the plan. Xfinity charges fees for the following: Activation Installation Equipment purchase Equipment rental Early termination The fee amount for each of these items was not easily found on Xfinity’s website. Interested customers will need to contact Xfinity directly. Xfinity does have an option for customers to self-install their internet. Customers can also purchase a modem and a router independently as long as they meet Xfinity’s requirements. Xfinity offers a 30-day, money-back guarantee. If a customer cancels within the first 30-days, Xfinity will refund the customer up to $500. Data caps It’s common for internet service providers to set a limit on monthly data usage. Exceeding the limit can result in additional fees or slower data. CenturyLink Monthly Limit: Undisclosed Excess Surcharge: Undisclosed Data Rollover: Undisclosed Cox Monthly Limit: 1 TB (1024 GB) Excess Surcharge: $10/up to 50 GB used Data Rollover: No Xfinity Monthly Limit: 1 TB (1024 GB) with some plans Excess Surcharge: Undisclosed Data Rollover: Undisclosed Additional Features Internet service providers provide the following additional features with their internet plans: Security software Specialized hardware (modems and routers) Technical support What additional features come with CenturyLink? CenturyLink offers the following security services with some of its internet plans: Anti-virus protection Computer check-ups Identify Guard® Basic Protection® 24/7 tech support Online back-up from Norton™ AntiVirus Online Service Customers buying a plan without the security services can subscribe to the same services by purchasing a CenturyLink @Ease® Package for a monthly fee. What additional features come with Cox? All of Cox’s internet plans include Cox Security Suite Plus by McAfee. This service helps maintain your internet’s security and enhances the security of up to five devices. Cox subscribers are also able to have up to 10 email accounts through Cox. Cox provides in-home Wi-Fi support 8AM-midnight every day for customers renting equipment. Customers who would like technical support can subscribe to Cox Complete Care (SM) for the same services. Cox Complete Care (SM) includes the following: 24/7 remote technical support and security Internet wiring repairs Customer training and education Hot spots Cox’s Preferred 100 plans and higher also come with access to Cox Wi-Fi hotspots. This feature is handy for people who travel frequently. Featured hardware Cox offers specially designed internet equipment: Panoramic WiFi (SM) Modem Panoramic WiFi Extender This equipment is designed to create steady wireless internet service throughout a customer’s home. Cox technicians install the equipment to make sure it is set up to maximize performance. Wi-Fi configured via this hardware can be managed from smart phones through the Cox Connect app. What additional features come with Xfinity? Xfinity offers the following benefits to its customers: 24/7 support Easy-to-use self service apps Guaranteed 2-hour appointment window Hot spot access Hot spots Hot spots are not available everywhere. Only customers with a Performance Plus Internet subscribers have unlimited access. Performance Starter customers can be granted access with 40 1-hour passes every 30 days. Featured hardware Xfinity has its own modem router called xFi Gateway. It provides consistent speeds and good wireless coverage. Customers can also use the modem router to monitor internet activity by device, set parental controls, and turn off Wi-Fi for certain periods of time. All of these control features are available on a mobile app. The xFi security system that comes with xFi Gateway also protects from malware. Xfinity also offers Norton™ Security Online for PC, Mac, and mobile, can add Norton™ Secure VPN. To bundle or not to bundle? Many internet service companies also offer other services, like phone, TV, and home security. Customers interested in purchasing these services anyway may be able to save money by bundling. Purchasing multiple services from a company can be more cost effective than purchasing them separately. What bundling options does CenturyLink have? Customers purchasing internet service from CenturyLink can add phone and TV service to their purchase and receive discounted rates. CenturyLink’s bundling options require a two-year contract. The promotional pricing for DirecTV lasts one year. The promotional rates are between $80 and $120 per month depending on customer location, which services are selected, internet speed, and kind of TV service. These rates exclude equipment fees. With these bundling options, CenturyLink charges a $19.95 activation fee. Because these bundles come with contracts, there is an early termination fee of $20 per month remaining on the contract. What bundling options does Cox have? Like CenturyLink, Cox offers phone and TV service in addition to internet. Cox also offers home security and automation services. Cox’s bundling options also come with a two-year contract. The monthly costs (excluding taxes) range between $61.99 and $332.46. The promotional rates are between $49.99 and $179.99. These rates last one to two years depending on bundle terms. These rates vary based on customer location and services bundled. What bundling options does Xfinity have? Xfinity offers TV service, phone service, and home security service in addition to internet service. Customers can bundle services with a two-year contract. The promotional monthly rates fall between $34 and $190 per month excluding taxes. Xfinity charges additional service fees for Broadcast TV, Regional Sports, AnyRoom DVR, HD Technology, and voice activation. CenturyLink vs Cox CenturyLink Cox Speeds Available Up to 20 Mbps Up to 40-80 Mbps Up to 100-140 Mbps Up to 1000 Mbps 10 Mbps 30 Mbps 100 Mbps 300 Mbps 1000 Mbps Monthly Costs Internet Service Equipment Rental Up to 20 Mbps: $45 Up to 40-80 Mbps: $55 Up to 100-140 Mbps: $65 Rental: $10 10 Mbps: $49.99 30 Mbps: $66.99 100 Mbps: $87.99 300 Mbps: $104.99 1000 Mbps: $119.99 Rental: Undisclosed One-time Costs Activation Installation Equipment Purchase Undisclosed Self-install or $125 Up to $150 Undisclosed Undisclosed Undisclosed Early Termination Fee Not Applicable Up to $120 Contract Type Month-to-month One-year or Month-to-month (+$10/month) Data Caps Undisclosed 1 TB (1024 GB) Additional Features Security Tech Support Hot Spots Featured Hardware Yes Yes Undisclosed Undisclosed Yes Yes Yes Yes Bundling Services Phone TV Home Security Automation Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Bundling Contract Typ Two-year Two-year Additional Bundling Fees $19.95 Activation Fee Undisclosed Bundling Early Termination Fee $20/month left on contract Undisclosed CenturyLink vs Xfinity CenturyLink Xfinity Speeds Available Up to 20 Mbps Up to 40-80 Mbps Up to 100-140 Mbps Up to 1000 Mbps 15 Mbps 60 Mbps 150 Mbps 250 Mbps 400 Mbps 1000 Mbps 2000 Mbps Monthly Costs Internet Service Equipment Rental Up to 20 Mbps: $45 Up to 40-80 Mbps: $55 Up to 100-140 Mbps: $65 Rental: $10 15 Mbps: $49.95-$51.95 60-1000 Mbps: $59.95-$66.95 + upgrade surcharge 2000 Mbps: $299.95 Rental: Undisclosed One-time Costs Activation Installation Equipment Purchase Undisclosed Self-install or $125 Up to $150 Undisclosed Undisclosed Undisclosed Early Termination Fee Not Applicable Undisclosed Contract Type Month-to-month One-year, two-year, or Month-to-month (+$10-$35/month) Data Caps Undisclosed 1 TB (1024 GB) with some plans Additional Features Security Tech Support Hot Spots Featured Hardware Yes Yes Undisclosed Undisclosed Yes Yes Yes Yes Bundling Services Phone TV Home Security Automation Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No Bundling Contract Typ Two-year Two-year Additional Bundling Fees $19.95 Activation Fee Undisclosed Bundling Early Termination Fee $20/month left on contract Undisclosed While Xfinity and Cox have some excellent bonus features and more bundling options, CenturyLink has lower monthly costs. Customers on one of CenturyLink’s Price for Life plans don’t have to worry about rate increases or contracts. While additional information about data caps and surcharges would be nice, CenturyLink is much more transparent about its rates and fees. Customers who are looking to bundle services with home security or interested in more speed options and higher speeds should consider Xfinity and Cox.
In a day and age when working from home is the norm and streaming is how we access entertainment, having a reliable internet connection is key. Depending upon which Internet Service Provider (ISP) you have, the problems you experience over any period of time may vary greatly. In most cases, however, problems involve some combination of slow internet speeds, intermittent service, or extended periods with no service at all. Your right as the customer is to receive exactly what you paid for. If that's not happening, you can take steps to get your internet service back to where it should be. Contact your ISP and explain all the issues you're experiencing An easy way to rectify any problems with your internet is to call your provider. If the fix is simple, they may walk you through the process of getting your internet up and running over the phone. If the fix requires a change to the hardware they've provided, contacting your ISP will allow them to dispatch a technician to your address as soon as they can. Running through their customer support circle may be a long and tedious process, but it is best to contact your ISP first if you have any concerns with your internet connection. Upgrade your internet plan While your gut reaction to slow internet and no service may be to blame your service provider, you may need to take a step back and see if your internet usage has changed. How you are using your internet can have a large impact on its speed and reliability. If you initially bought a plan meant for occasional web surfing and emailing, but then found yourself streaming movies and gaming, you will likely need to update your internet plan to accommodate a greater strain on your existing plan. Internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). In most cases, a plan with 25 Mbps is all you need, and is what most ISPs offer in their basic level plans. However, if you have a variety of devices or people using your internet, you may need to upgrade your plan for a larger Mbps threshold. According to Tom’s Guide, recommended internet speeds include the following based on your devices and usage: Internet speed What you can do Up to 25 Mbps Web surfing Email and social networking Video streaming Connect 1–2 devices (without slowdown) 50–100 Mbps Gaming 4K streaming Connect 3–5 devices 150–200 Mbps Share large files Live stream video Connect 5+ devices Many ISPs provide internet plans with speeds up to 1,000 or even 2,000 Mbps, which allows you to connect 10 or more devices simultaneously, allowing for 4K streaming and file sharing, as well as the capability to connect multiple smart devices. Thus, if you have a 25 Mbps plan, but you’ve added more devices in your home and are spending more time on video calls or streaming 4K video content, you may need to update your existing plan. Check your internet type There are a variety of internet types available, and some may be a better fit for your home and location than others: Fiber internet — The fastest internet available, providing speeds as great as 2,000–5,000 Mbps. It is typically available in large cities, but it isn’t available everywhere. Satellite internet — The slowest type of internet available, but is available almost everywhere in the United States. It can be a good option if you live on a rural property. Cable internet — The most common type of internet in the United States. It is more widely available than fiber internet, providing high speeds (but not as high as fiber internet). Digital subscriber line (DSL) — An internet type that is slowly becoming obsolete as more companies move to fiber. DSL uses the same wiring as landline telephone networks and maxes out at 100 Mbps. 5G home internet — An upcoming internet type that functions over a fixed wireless connection. It isn’t widely available, but is more common in large cities and towns. 4G LTE home internet — Similar to 5G internet in function, but slower. It typically relies on available cell service in an area. Fixed wireless — A wireless/cell service base internet type that offers limited speeds from 25–50 Mbps. Check your Wi-Fi connection While it is easy to use the terms “internet” and “Wi-Fi” interchangeably, they are actually two very different things. In simple terms, the internet is what allows you to connect to other devices and online services — the internet allows you to browse the web or send and receive emails. Wi-Fi enables you to connect to the internet through a wireless signal. Thus, if you’re having trouble with your internet service, you may want to check your Wi-Fi to see if it might be causing a connection issue. You can easily troubleshoot Wi-Fi by doing the following: Check Wi-Fi router lights — green is good, while red or orange may indicate that something is wrong with your Wi-Fi. Reboot your router and modem (the classic, “turn it off and turn it on again” method) Reset your router to the factory settings Use your computer or device’s network diagnostic tools Forget and re-add Wi-Fi network on your devices Reset network settings on your devices While there may be a larger problem that is affecting your internet connection, checking your Wi-Fi can be a good place to start, and may even be recommended by your ISP. If everything is working with your Wi-Fi but your internet is still down, contact your ISP to have them come take a look. Find out if other customers are experiencing similar issues You likely aren't the first customer to experience issues with your internet, and you likely won’t be the last. Therefore, it can help to see how other customers have resolved their internet issues in the past. Search online for the specific problems you've been having (assuming you're still able to get access to the internet from your home; if not, find a wireless internet hotspot in your area). There are plenty of technical support forums where you can read about the problems other people have experienced and the solutions they used to fix them. There may even be a specific message board dedicated to your particular ISP where you can communicate directly with other customers and get their advice. Look at the other ISP options available to you In the end, if your ISP problems continue for long enough, it may be time to look at other service providers in your region. Though it might not seem like there are many providers to choose from, you should be able to find one that can ensure you a stable connection at a decent price. Look for providers that have some sort of reputation in the customer service arena and who can provide you with the best value for your money. You may experience problems with your ISP every once and a while. It's when those problems happen on a continual basis for extended periods of time that you need to take action. Sometimes in the end, if you've exhausted every other option, the best solution is to simply look for a new ISP. When comparing ISPs we recommend taking a good look at customer reviews. Because the industry is competitive and there doesn’t seem to be a perfect internet solution that never waivers, ISP reviews vary widely and typically skew negatively. However, these reviews can still provide valuable insight, especially into customer service, which can be a deal-breaker for whether or not an ISP is worth your time and money. Top-Ranked Internet Service Providers Compare top internet service providers and learn about the different options and products they offer. Compare
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