There are many different internet service providers (ISPs) jockeying for position, some of which are demonstrably better equipped to offer higher quality broadband solutions than others. But what defines a good ISP and how can you determine whether your current package is living up to expectations?
The amount of data you can download in a given monthly period will play a key role in establishing whether or not a particular ISP is the right fit for your needs.
For multi-user office buildings containing several regular web users, an unlimited allowance is desirable, especially if everyone is going to be downloading large files, streaming high-def video and general office shenanigans.
Those with less data-intensive uses in mind might be satisfied by a package that comes with a monthly usage cap. But you should also be aware that some providers will have a fair use policy in place that imposes certain limits on packages that supposedly have unrestricted allowances.
The best providers are throwing fair use out of the window and have stopped penalising people for the amount they download at different times of the day, so be on the lookout for broadband deals which explicitly advertise this fact.
Broadband speeds have leapt upwards in the past couple of years, thanks to the rollout of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) connectivity. You should not take the advertised speed as matching that which you can achieve at your place of work, however, so it is wise to use a broadband speed test website to establish whether or not your provider is close to matching the marketing hype.
Various issues can impact on speed, with the most obvious being the type of connection you are using. Fibre optic solutions are innately faster than standard ADSL delivered over a copper landline, so
those offices that want faster connections should upgrade.
A good ISP should not just be judged on the performance of its products when they are working well, but on how it responds when issues do arise
Check independent sources to see whether a firm has a good reputation for customer service. And in fact you may already have experience of using the BT Customer Service number in Britain for example, to remedy problems. BT is a main provider in Britain, but all countries have their good providers and bad providers, so shop around
As a consumer, you are responsible for picking the best broadband provider and package available, as well as having the option to change to a new company if you are not satisfied. So take the initiative and put them to the test.
Neal Bricker is a tech expert and writer who has published work across a variety of formats. He covers telecoms and internet topics for consumers and business users.