Since you signed up for your internet service, you probably haven't given it much thought. It works, so why bother? But a new plan might better suit your needs and save money, too.
Speed is also important, of course, and there's a chance your plan isn't to blame. Tap or click here for a quick insider trick that involves changing one setting for significantly faster internet speeds.
When your internet slows down, it could be your line, your device, your router, your browser or even your neighbors. I’ve got you covered with the steps to take to figure it out. Tap or click here for 10 ways to fix your home Wi-Fi problems.
If it is your plan, how do you navigate the many internet options? Here’s a quick crash course.
Choosing the right plan
- For those who connect with fewer than three devices and simply browse the internet, you can get by with a basic package that offers download speeds up to 10Mbps.
- If you don’t stream much but want to check email and download music and photos, a plan that offers speeds up to 25Mbps should work.
- Gamers, videophiles, streamers and households with multiple people using multiple devices will need a plan that offers speeds up to 100Mbps.
Remember, there are data caps. Most companies put a limit on the amount of data you can use each month and if you go over that amount, you’ll be charged extra fees. Tap or click here to learn how to avoid hitting your internet data cap while you’re streaming.
Now that you know what to look for in a plan, let’s see what your options are.
For home internet service you’re going to choose between DSL, cable, fiber or satellite. Here’s what that means:
- DSL –Digital Subscriber Line users get a high-speed bandwidth connection from a phone wall jack or an existing telephone network. It works within the frequencies your telephone doesn’t, so you can use the internet while making phone calls.
- Cable – Cable internet service comes from the same coaxial cable network that is used with cable television. Cable TV uses a small portion of the cable’s bandwidth, which allows your internet service to work with it. You don’t have to subscribe to cable TV to have cable internet service.
- Fiber – Fiber internet uses fiber-optic cables instead of copper wires. It’s faster than DSL and cable internet, but it’s not available everywhere.
- Satellite – Internet access is provided through communications satellites, used mostly in rural areas. It’s usually the most expensive, last resort option.
Since DSL and cable internet services are the most common, we’ll focus on those. Two of the major providers in the U.S. are Xfinity from Comcast and Cox Communications.
For DSL, I’ll also show you options from CenturyLink. Service providers and specific offerings vary depending on where you live, so the packages you see here may be slightly different than those offered at posting.
Take a look at the plans offered and compare these to your own. Be sure to read the tip at the end about testing your speed to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for.
Xfinity from Comcast
Xfinity offers a few different plans:
- If you can get by with the bare minimum, the Performance Starter+ plan offers download speeds up to 25Mbps for $29.99/month for the first year. After that, you’ll pay $50 per month.
- For those who need more bandwidth, Xfinity’s Performance Select plan includes speeds up to 100Mbps for $39.99/month for the first year. After that, you’ll pay $65 per month.
- Need even faster speeds? Xfinity’s Performance Pro+ offers speeds up to 200Mbps for $49.99/month for the first year. After that, you’ll pay $70 per month.
Cox Communications offers a wide range of plans with speeds from 10Mbps all the way up to 940Mbps. Here are the most common offerings:
- Cox Internet Essential 30 gets you up to 30Mbps for $39.99/month for 12 months with a 1-year service agreement. After that, the cost goes up to $66.99 per month.
- Cox Internet Preferred 150 gives you up to 150Mbps of speed for $59.99/month for 12 months with a 1-year service agreement. After that, you’ll pay $87.99 per month.
- For higher speeds, choose Cox Internet Ultimate to get up to 300Mbps for $79.99/month for 12 months with a 1-year service agreement. After that, it’ll cost $104.99 per month.
CenturyLink, a DSL internet service provider, is pushing its “Price for Life” offer. That means if you sign up for internet service, you can guarantee the same monthly rate year after year as long as you don’t cancel.
At the moment, you can get up to 100Mbps for $49/month. Unfortunately, this special promotion isn't available in every area of the U.S. The top speeds available depend on your location.
BONUS TIP: Check your internet connection speed for free
Once you choose a provider and a plan, make sure you’re getting what you pay for. If you’re paying for download speeds of 100Mbps, but only getting around 50Mbps, you need to notify your provider.
You can find out with a simple speed test right through Google. Just use the search phrase “Speed Test.” If you’d rather use a site designed to test speeds, tap or click here for 4 sites to check your internet speed for free.
Remember, competition is fierce. If you live in an area with more than one internet service provider, see which one can give you the best deal. Call each provider’s customer service line and ask for their best and lowest price. And pay close attention to contract lengths, setup fees and such to make sure you aren’t paying more than you think.
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Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.