When it comes to choosing a broadband provider these days, many of us end up with a service that we aren’t too happy with. While this varies by country, the general consensus is that around half of us are not happy with the speed and reliability we currently receive from our ISP’s. New Zealand has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and now resides at number 42 in the world for broadband speeds, but that doesn’t mean everyone is getting an acceptable service.
Average worldwide download speeds now sit at around 32.5Mbps for a peak connection, and a rather putrid 5.6Mbps on average. The peak connection number refers to the best connection that is attainable, rather than the speed at peak times. For peak time speeds, refer to the average speed as a more accurate guide.
Now, anyone who has had the misfortune of trying to use a broadband line that gets anywhere near as low as 5.6 Mbps will know all too well how frustrating this can be. One high definition stream and a separate video call can bring your internet to an abrupt halt when you only have a 5 Mbps pipe to drink from, so if you happen to live in a house that has more than just you living in it, or especially if you work from home, you are going to need to find yourself a bigger pipe.
Before you pack up your things and move to South Korea (those lucky guys and girls get an average of 29Mbps), it is worth noting that speeds can vary quite a bit depending on your ISP. Choosing whether you want an ADSL, VDSL, or fiber connection is also an important choice to make, and as much as a fiber is generally more expensive, it is also more reliable and has the potential for much faster speeds in the future. It is not only download speeds you should be looking at, but upload speeds are increasingly more important too. If you happen to video chat a lot or have a need for sending large files over the web, upload speeds can often be your ‘bottleneck’ point. It is all very well to have a 15MB line, but if you only get speeds of 0.5 Mbps up, then kiss goodbye to any high definition video accompanying your audio chat when using Skype or Viber. Luckily, most decent ISP’s now provide well above these speeds for downloads and uploads, even on the less capable ADSL and VDSL lines, but if you really want to make sure you will receive the best speeds possible, it is hard to recommend anything other than fibre.
Another thing to look for when selecting your ISP is the package that comes with it. There has been a trend over the last ten years to bundle TV and phone packages in with broadband which may suit some, but not everyone. If you are finding yourself paying for a service you don’t use, it may be worth looking at so-called ‘naked broadband’ services such as the ones available from BigPipe. These deals strip back all the other services that are bundled together and give you an internet pipe purely repurposed for broadband and nothing else. If you find yourself never using your home telephone, or mainly watching streaming content in your downtime, you may want to save yourself a bit of money and check out these new deals that are becoming ever more popular each year, as the internet takes chunk after chunk from the TV and communications industries. Even if you are someone who does occasionally use your landline, and watch terrestrial television, there are plenty of alternative ways to consume and use these sorts of services online. Sometimes it is just a case of doing a little research and trying it out. Living with just broadband is much easier than most people think. Most channels have a catch-up service available for free, and the likes of Skype and Whatsapp easily match, and in some cases outperform the antiquated landline.
So to clarify, there are a few different things to look for when choosing your ISP. Are the speeds fast enough for you? Is your line future-proofed or will you need to change your provider again in the near future? Are you being sold services you don’t use? The answers to these question should be yes, yes, and no. If those boxes are ticked, you will be making a good choice when it comes to your broadband provider. If not, you will probably be doing the exact same research in another 18 months when your first contract is up for renewal.