Choose between cable or DSL. This decision may come down to which type of Internet access is available in your area. If you have the choice between cable and DSL, consider whether you want to bundle cable television service with your cable Internet or phone service with your DSL to save money on a package deal. Ask neighbors and friends about their experience with their chosen provider and read reviews online. One company may have a better reputation than others or offer higher speeds to your address. Cable often offers a higher top speed than DSL.
Make a list of what you want to do over the Internet. Activities like playing online games or streaming movies and television shows require more bandwidth than just getting online to check email and browse a few web sites. If multiple users are going to share the connection, you may want a higher bandwidth level to accommodate the demand.
Check with your chosen Internet service provider to see what levels of service are offered. For example, a DSL provider may offer three levels of service at 1.5 Mbps, 5 Mbps and 7 Mbps. A cable provider may offer 1 Mbps, 12 Mbps and 16 Mbps options. “Mbps” stands for “megabits per second.” Higher numbers indicate greater bandwidth. The offerings can vary with your location.
Choose the lowest available level of service if you are looking to save money and don’t have high bandwidth Internet requirements. 1 to 1.5 Mbps works well for casual web browsing, email and basic web applications.
Choose a mid-level of service in the 3 to 7 Mbps range if you plan to watch high quality streaming video or participate in multi-player online games that require more bandwidth to run smoothly. This can be a good choice for households with multiple computer users that will be online at the same time.
Choose the highest level of service if you have demanding Internet activities such as the need to download large files or play lots of streaming video.