High Speed Internet (HSI) Service is one of the most important essentials for both our home and businesses. Starting from the basic needs like checking emails and reading news to online entertainment, gaming, watching videos on channels like YouTube, social networking, video conferencing, sharing digital photos and videos; internet access has become the part of life for everyone.

Because internet access is so part of the daily life, it is a very hot market and there is a big competition among the service providers. There are many offers including cash-back deals, one-month free deals (and more) most of which include free equipment or equipment lease.

Find Out The Speed You Need

Everybody has a different speed need based on the activity on the net. The speed is the most important factor that reflects to the dollars paid at the end of the month. In order to get the best value for the money paid, it is important to know what kind of activities the internet connection will be mostly used for. Lower speeds can cost us time or the price for unnecessarily high speeds can be a hole in the pocket so it is important to find the balance. The following list can help to have a general idea about the speed you need:

  • Basic internet needs: checking and sending email, reading news online, simple blogging: 768 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps
  • Intermediate needs: Basic needs + watching videos online, downloading photos and music, gaming: At least 3.0 to 5.0 Mbps
  • Media and Entertainment: Intermediate needs + downloading large files, movies and HD content, uploading videos and high quality photos: Greater than 5.0 Mbps downstream speed.

If You Are A Frequent Uploader...

If you love to share videos on the net, upload videos to YouTube and can't wait to see them airing, it is wise to check the upstream connection speed before signing up for any service. For a 100 MB video file for instance, you may spend anywhere from 7 minutes or 17 minutes to 35 minutes uploading depending on the upstream speed. (2 Mbps Verizon FiOS, 768 Kbps Verizon HSI and 384 Kbps Comcast cable upload speeds are used in this rough calculation respectively.)

Consider Startup Options

As customers we like it when there is no startup cost upon signing up for a service. The most common startup costs are the activation fees, installation fees, equipment prices and shipping costs for the equipment. So it is wise to check if there are any startup costs and if they are reasonable or not.

Consider Extras

The speed versus cost comparison usually gives a good idea to find out the best value while deciding among the service providers. However it may not be enough sometimes. Some of the additional things to consider are:

  • Storage space for email
  • Max number of email accounts
  • Email access from mobile phone
  • Free Personal Web space
  • Access to Premium Content for FREE (ex: Free access to ESPN360, abc News, Games and more)
  • Free Antivirus package for security
  • Parental Controls and Filtering

 

Service Types

Cable Internet

Available to most houses, apartments and businesses. The service comes through the coaxial cable - on the same line as the cable TV service. A cable modem is attached to the coax outlet and enables the High Speed Internet connection. The modems can usually be leased from the provider for free. The speeds range from 768 Kbps to approximately 8 Mbps.

DSL Internet

Available to most houses, apartments and businesses. The service comes through the traditional phone line. A DSL modem needs to be attached to the telephone jack for High Speed Internet connection. In this setup, you can use the phone and also connect to the internet at the same time. The speeds range from 512 Kbps to approximately 15 Mbps. Provides a dedicated channel between the DSL company and the customer location.

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Verizon High Speed Internet for Only $19.99/mo with no term agreement 

 
  • 1 Mbps speed. 99.9 % network reliability. Complimentary Mobile Phone Access.
  • FREE Wireless Router with online orders (with home phone service). 30 day money back guarantee. 24/7 live tech support. ESPN360 access.
I ordered a variation of this package for $19.99 with 1-year contract August '09. Would get the 3 months free deal if I had a Verizon phone service. No big deal, still great price. Within a few days after online ordering, Verizon mailed a package including a wireless modem (shown in the picture) and related documents. I did the setup myself. It was quite easy. Power on, plug the supplied wire to phone jack and just type an address on internet browser. The browser automatically redirects to Verizon address for provisioning the line. Fill in the required information on the web site, setup your @verizon.net e-mail address, choose other oprtions and it was ready in about 10 minutes. I tested the speed at www.speedtest.net, it was exactly the promised speed (1.02 Mbps down / 0.384 Mbps up) The modem shown on the picture is a wireless modem (its antenna is internal) so my computer is not attached to any cables. The standard modem was free and this one was ~ $15 extra so just chose this upgrade while ordering online. Otherwise a wireless router would cost for at least 40 to 50 bucks from bestbuy.

Satellite Internet

  Yes, it is possible to surf the net using a satellite connection. Just like a TV broadcast station, the customer sends and receives data directly through the satellite link and connects to the internet. In this setup, a dish antenna is mounted to the roof of the house or another suitable place outside of your home by experienced technicians. Satellite Internet can be used anywhere provided that there is a clear skyview.

WildBlue: Get WildBlue Satellite Internet for only $39.95/month!

HughesNet: No DSL? No Cable? No problem... HughesNet Satellite High Speed Internet

For residential areas, satellite internet may be an option for those;

 
  • Residing in newly developing areas where there is not a cable or a DSL service provider. (esp. in Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Wyoming and Colorado)
  • Cable or DSL provider gives poor service.
  • Having restricted access to cable or DSL because of the property rules.
  • Residing in trailers, mobile homes and boats.

For your business;

 
  • If you or your workers are not able to gain access to a physical cable line at the client site.
  • Renting space/desks/kiosks at various locations (temporary or long term).

 

Technologic Advancements

Verizon FiOS Internet

Verizon FiOS Internet is a cable based solution for internet connection. It uses the fiber optic technology and sends/receives data as pulses of light. The downstream speed ranges from 10 Mbps to 50 Mbps. The upstream speed starts from 2Mbps and goes up to 20 Mbps.

Verizon FiOS Internet 49.99/mo + FREE Activation!

FiOS Internet 
  • FREE Activation.
  • FREE Wireless Router and installation for one computer with one-year agreement.
  • 24/7 live technical support.

AT&T U-verse Internet

AT&T is also making investments on the fiber optic TV and internet solutions. With a U-verse Internet connection, the downstream speed ranges from 1.5 Mbps to 18 Mbps. The upstream speed starts from 1 Mbps and goes up to 1.5 Mbps.

Comcast Extreme High-Speed Internet Service Using DOCSIS 3.0

Comcast is also powering up their backend systems with fiber optic technology. A maximum downstream speed 50 Mbps and upstream speed of 5 Mbps has been announced in April 2008 and offered in some markets.

 

Conclusion

This article is written to serve as a quick guide before ordering a new high speed internet service. While ordering an internet service, it is advisable to check out bundled services as well (any combination of Internet, TV and digital phone) because ordering these services as a bundle costs less than ordering them individually.

Reference:

Kbps: Kilo-bits-per-second

Mbps: Mega-bits-per-second. 1 Mbps approximately equals to 1000 Kbps.