For some households, selecting an internet plan is easy because they may be limited in what is available. In other situations, households may have several options for internet connection and be overwhelmed with the options available. If you are in the process of choosing a plan, there are significant factors that should affect your decision.


There are several types of high-speed internet. DSL, cable, fiber optic, and satellite internet are the faster options when compared to dial-up. DSL may be the most widely available because it relies on copper phone lines. The downside of DSL is phone lines do not carry internet signals as quickly as other options and old phone lines may be unreliable. Cable is another option that may be common in your community because it relies on the same lines that are used to receive cable TV in your home. Cable is much faster than DSL, but much like DSL, the quality of your service will depend on how well the wiring has been maintained.

Fiber optic internet is a newer form of internet that uses thin, fiber optic cables to provide some of the fastest internet available. Unfortunately, fiber optic internet is fairly new and many households do not have the wiring necessary for this type of internet. Satellite internet is a common option, especially in rural areas because homeowners can purchase the satellite necessary to receive signals. This type of internet is usually the most expensive and is unlikely to have unlimited data each month. Satellites are also vulnerable to the weather, making your internet connection extremely vulnerable.


Although any internet package you purchase will give you the upload and download speeds, this is not the exact speed you will experience because your plan means you will receive "up to" these speeds. There are numerous factors that affect internet speeds. There will be differences in speeds based on the type of internet you select and how far you are from the network centralizer. If you are closer to the centralizer, it will take less time for information to go from your home to the centralizer and back. The quality of your connection will influence your speeds, whether it is the wiring, your wireless network, or your device.

Households with several devices connected to the network will slow up internet speeds, which will require you to purchase a package with higher potential upload and download speeds for the internet to keep up with the devices. Even if you only have a couple of devices connected to your network simultaneously, what you are doing on these devices will substantially affect speeds. For example, many people use an internet-connected TV or a separate device that allows a TV to connect with the home network. Any streaming, whether TV or gaming will significantly affect your speeds and may require a more expensive plan.


There can be numerous fees associated with your internet plan. There are typically taxes and fees that will be added to your bill. If you rent equipment, this will increase your monthly bill. Some providers may include all fees in the price displayed for the plan. This is better because there are no surprises when you receive your bill. You need to be cautious about what your plan includes. Internet plans are not automatically unlimited and without knowing this, you may receive a substantial bill. Satellite internet is unlikely to provide unlimited data. You typically have to buy additional data. If you use a service that has a data limit, you should also know how it will be billed. For many households, it is better to have to buy additional data than it is to receive a bill with hundreds of dollars extra in overage fees.

The most important features that should factor into your decision are the type of internet, upload and download speeds, and any fees associated with the plan. Choosing carefully will increase the likelihood you will be satisfied with your service.