So you want to cut your cords and make the jump to wireless internet? You're in good company.
In fact, nearly 396 million Americans utilized wireless technology in 2016—a 4.8 percent jump from the previous year.
With that added popularity comes more choice when picking out a wireless internet service providers. Keep reading to find out what makes the best provider for you.
Internet speed is measured in Megabits per second, or Mbps. When it comes to speed, a higher number means faster downloads, quicker uploads, and speedy streaming services.
A high Mbps generally comes with a higher monthly price tag, however. Most customers opt for a balance between speed and price.
When considering what internet speed you need, you should take into account how many people will be on your wireless connection, what you plan to do online, and, how much you can afford to spend.
Depending on where you live, this might not be a big concern. Major metropolitan areas and their surrounding suburbs are pretty well-connected these days.
However, if you're living a little out of the way in a rural area, reach could be the number one factor when it comes to choosing wireless internet service providers.
A quick search will usually turn up which service providers are in your local area. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also publishes maps showing the number of internet service providers in your area.
Look for a provider with a proven service record in your local city or town. You want a company with a reliable connection that is able to maintain pretty consistent speeds. High speeds and great reach don't matter much if your provider can't keep your home connected.
There may be a lot of give and take when it comes to picking out your provider, but your budget should be the deciding factor when you choose.
Set a firm amount that you can't surpass before you start shopping. It's easier to avoid the temptation of ultra-fast speeds or extra bells and whistles when you know the maximum you want to spend.
Some wireless internet service providers will offer extras you may not really need. Instead of going for a premium plan that comes with extra parental controls, email accounts, and cloud storage, see if you can pick out a stripped-down basic plan instead.
If you're having trouble finding a plan that fits your pocketbook, consider bundling other telecommunications services together to save. Instead of paying a separate phone, cable, and internet bill, you may be able to find a provider that can offer all three services for a lower price.
Read the fine print before you sign on with any provider.
Some wireless internet service providers offer short contract terms that allow for rate negotiations after a few months or a year. Others offer you a very low upfront price—but lock you in your contract for several years down the road.
Be sure you know what you're signing up for before you choose.
Some service providers try to earn a little extra profit from their customers by quietly instituting data caps. If you sign up for a plan with caps and you go over your limit, prepare yourself for a litany of overage fees.
As data caps go out of style, however, other providers may try to throttle your bandwidth instead.
Check for customer reviews complaining about throttling practices before you choose a provider. If you see recurring complaints about artificially slow speeds—even on unlimited data plans—steer clear.
This is one of those features you hope you'll never have to use. But if something does go wrong with your connection, you need a wireless internet service provider willing to help you fix your problem as quickly as possible.
It can be difficult to gauge how helpful customer support will be for each provider, but there are some ways to guess.
First, do a quick search for customer reviews for the company. Generally, if a provider has problems responding to its customers' problems, it will be pretty apparent.
Next, check into the different ways you can contact customer service. Do you have to make a phone call, or can you send an email, a text message, or online chat message? The best provider will give you plenty of options.
When you're comparing prices, make a mental note of which plans feature a special introductory rate and which don't.
When you're tallying up the better deal, remember that your introductory rate has an expiration date. It might end up being the more expensive option.
You probably won't find a wireless internet service provider that has all of the features you want and falls within your budget. Make a ranked list that detail the things you'd like in your wireless connection—and which features you can't live without.
If you're having trouble prioritizing, think of your previous internet service provider. What were the biggest problems you encountered? Make note of which issues were easy fixes and which ones kept you up at night.
Internet service providers change constantly. Sometimes one provider sells a service area to another company. New companies occasionally crop up to provide a little healthy competition. Established providers may take some time to branch out into new, rural areas, but they get there eventually.
Keep yourself informed about upcoming changes in your area. If you're not impressed with your options right now, more might be headed your way in the future.
At WaveDirect, we specialize in connecting our rural customers to the web. Check out our residential plans and find a bundle that's right for you.