Choosing an ISP

With the vast array of options available, choosing an ISP can be overwhelming. There are different providers, connection speeds, features and prices. If price is your biggest concern, there are still dial-up connections, but they are slow.

Basic broadband options: There are three options for broadband connection: DSL, cable and satellite. A cable connection is much faster than DSL, but both offer similar features. If you don't have access to an ISP in your region, a satellite connection is another option. To find out more about broadband service available in your area, consult the national broadband map.

Connection speed: The connection speed is another factor to consider. If you only do light browsing, a 256KB connection will suffice. But if you download movies, watch a lot of content and frequently browse through videos, a 1MB connection will better suit your needs. If you play online games, you'll need a 3MB connection.

Ask about deals: One of the best ways to save money when choosing a service provider is to contact your cable, telephone or satellite provider to ask about available offers, including for bundled services

Getting good ISP customer service

When shopping for an ISP, base the decision on the product and price as well as customer service. Be alert to how the customer service representative answers your questions about the service, product options and price. If the representative is pushy, irritable, unresponsive or rude, ask to speak to another representative or a manager. If this doesn't solve the problem, consider another provider.

Once service is up and running, complain effectively about any problems. Explain your concerns and ask for solutions. Remain calm when speaking with a customer service representative. If you aren't satisfied with the response, ask to be transferred to the next level of customer service. If that doesn't solve the problem, you can file a formal complaint. In addition, you can always file a review about your experience on that company with Angie's List, which provides its members with consumer reviews on telecommunications companies and more than 500 other service providers. In addition, Angie's List offers members a Complaint Resolution Process that can help resolve issues.

Here are more tips for ensuring the best possible Internet service:

Do your homework. Check Angie’s List for highly rated Internet, satellite TV, cable TV and phone service providers in your area. Ask customer service representatives about a bundled package. Before signing a contract, be sure to read it and take note of any extra fees, such as for early termination or other changes.

Track data usage. If you’re paying for the fastest broadband speed just to send e-mail, consider a smaller, less expensive package.

Document communication with customer service. Every time you call, email or send a letter, write it down. Include the name of anyone you speak to, as well as the date, time, and issue discussed.

Treat the company with respect. Rather than accuse the company of wrongdoing, tell them you need their help to resolve a problem. Remember the old saying that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Take it to social media. If a problem arises that Angie’s List’s complaint resolution team isn't able to fully resolve for you, use Twitter to broadcast your issue or post on the company's Facebook page.

Hiring a computer technician

If you're not sure how to set up your Internet services, or need other computer help, consider how a computer technician, information technology (IT) technician, computer trainer or other expert can help you make the most of your system. 

A technician is trained to do all kinds of computer tasks, such as installing and setting up network service, doing repairs and showing you how to use the equipment, including as the router. A computer trainer can help you learn to use certain programs or otherwise get more value from your computer and Internet connection.

If you need help to set up a website, consider hiring an expert in website development and design or even graphic design. Be sure whoever you hire knows about design as well as navigation, usability, web standards, how to attract traffic and more. If you have some computer skills, you may be able to set up a website yourself, but be prepared for it to take time and patience. If you're in a hurry to get a site up and running, a professional may be the best answer.

If you want help hiring a computer professional, consider an Angie's List membership, which gives you access to local consumer reviews on computer trainers, website developers, graphic designers and more than 500 other service providers.

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