How to Be a Savvy Broadband Internet Shopper

So you’ve gone through and checked the speed of your internet connection, evaluating your download speeds, upload speeds and ping. If you feel that your speeds are sufficiently fast and responsive for Zoom meetings and your other home internet needs, great! You can move on to evaluating your home Wi-Fi connection. If you’re seeing lag, low speeds, inconsistent speeds throughout the day, or would just like to ensure that you’re getting the best value for your broadband dollar, then read on!

Evaluating Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Analyzing what you’re paying for your Internet and what you’re getting in return every year or so is always a good idea. Just like you’d evaluate your insurance coverage and premiums, this is vital to ensuring that you’re getting the best possible value out of your internet service provider (ISP). Technology and infrastructure changes and evolves, so this is a great way to ensure that you’re making the most of the technology available in your neighborhood. 

Start by Researching Your Available Broadband Options

If you’re located in the U.S., start with the FCC’s Broadband Coverage Map. This is the best way to get unbiased information about the providers in your area and the Internet speeds they offer.

Map of the US showing the FCC's broadband speed search homepage
The FCC’s Broadband Coverage Map enables you to identify and evaluate the broadband providers offering services in your area.

Simply search using your home address and you’ll see a list of the providers who offer broadband internet connectivity to your address. Speeds listed are their fastest package available, but it should give you what you need to shop around. Now, with your current speeds in hand and some idea of what’s available in your neighborhood, you can shop around and pit your available providers against each other. 

Ignore the Hype Around Broadband

 A lot of money is spent by broadband providers trying to convince you that their speeds are the fastest and best. Ultimately, the best broadband service provider is the one that works best in your neighborhood. Just like a cell phone network could have amazing national coverage, but somehow have a dead spot right in your kitchen, broadband speeds vary widely based upon a number of factors including how close you are to a central service line, how recently lines have been updated in your neighborhood, the time of day that you tested your speeds and the number of users currently online on your street. If the FCC search above tells you that you’re currently subscribed to the fastest service provider, but you remain dissatisfied with the service, or you see dramatic performance shifts throughout the day (fast speeds in the morning, but slowdown in the evenings or during other high-demand times), then call up your ISP and let them know you’re dissatisfied and ask what they can do for you. As in many other parts of life, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Broadband Internet Pipes
When it comes to the broadband connection in your neighborhood, “big pipes” are better. Photo: Fabian Jung, Unsplash

A while back, I called up my local provider and complained that speeds were wildly inconsistent in our neighborhood. I’d switched providers a year earlier when “fiber” arrived, and the speeds were great to begin with. Unfortunately, over time, the consistency gradually declined. While on the phone with me, the service rep performed a remote system check and was able to see that one of the switches in our neighborhood was not responding as it should. They sent a technician out to our neighborhood to repair it that same day, and our overall speed and consistency both increased.

Broadband is one place that it pays to be a squeaky wheel.

The lesson? If your internet connection is insufficient or dissatisfying, call up your ISP and see what they can do for you. You might get a better connection that will not only improve your experience with Zoom videoconferencing but will also give you clearer movies and shows with everything else you do online, whether that’s streaming Netflix, Hulu or Disney+, or just trying to get work or online school done. In any case, perform a speed test every year in order to verify that you’re getting the Mbps speeds that are in your contract. If they don’t hear from you, they are going to assume that everything is fine. But, if more subscribers in your neighborhood start to complain about service quality, your ISP will look into the issue and you can all benefit.




Follow me @zoomprotips


Follow Me @zoomprotips


Let’s Connect @zoomprotips

Fine Print

Zoom is a registered trademark of Zoom Video Communications, Inc. is not affiliated with Zoom Video Communications, Inc. All content on this site is intended for comment, teaching, scholarship, education, and research and thus can be considered fair use as provided for in section 107 of US copyright law. This site may contain content not authorized for use by copyright holders. All information provided on this site is for general information purposes only and we make no representation of or warranty of any kind, express or implied regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability availability, or completeness of any information on this site.