Finding the right Internet provider and service in Houston can be an arduous task.High speed Internet connections are essential for any modern home. But how do we find the right Internet service provider with so many medium choices and service black out zones in Houston? We can't even watch our Rockets on TV because of provider squabbles, but we need high-speed Internet. How else could we watch Hulu, Netflix, or the Rockets for goodness sake? And how else could our children play Minecraft for hours on end with their friends without a high-speed Internet connection? And no Facebook? Inconceivable! Let’s explore the various types of Internet service available in Houston and the most important considerations to keep in mind when weighing provider options.
Types of High Speed Internet Service
The four predominant types of Internet services are cable, DSL, satellite, and fiber-optic. While all provide high-speed Internet, their service dependability, download/upload speed parameters, cost, and availability are quite different. Each has pros and cons that, depending on your unique circumstances, you must consider as you prioritize your Internet service must-haves.
DSL is a fancy acronym short for Digital Subscriber Line. Like dial-up Internet, it uses your phone line to connect to the internet. Unlike dial-up Internet, DSL offers users high-speed Internet usage with average speeds of 3 to 100 kbps. However, DSL speeds can vary dramatically depending on the quality of the copper wiring in your neighborhood and your proximity to the provider’s hub. The farther you are from the hub the slower your internet connection is.
However, some DSL providers (like Xfinity) offer power boost options that enable you to increase your upload and download speeds for a slightly higher monthly fee. Xfinity announced last month that Internet speeds for their Houston customers was increased by double at no extra cost. DSL is traditionally though to as slower than cable on paper, but bandwidth is not shared with your neighbors like it is with cable Internet so speed is more dependable.
Cable Internet uses coaxial cable to connect your home to the online world. Cable internet speeds are often advertised as being faster than DSL ranging from 3 mbps and exceeding 100 mbps. However it is important to remember that cable internet speed is diluted when multiple homes or businesses around you are feeding off of the same main feed. This drawback aside cable Internet is usually much faster than DSL or satellite, it’s more commonly available, and usually costs less. For optimum performance and homes with heavy internet usage, see if you can get a private cable line for an additional cost so you don’t have to share with your neighbors.
You might not have even considered satellite Internet service because frankly, it’s not very common in Houston. That’s because most people who have satellite Internet subscribe because it is the only service available in their rural or remote area. On a positive note, if you are one of the unfortunate souls that live in a veritable Internet service blackout zone, you can still get satellite Internet. Not only is satellite Internet available anywhere, its speed is not affected by neighbors’ usage and it is extremely dependable. The bad news; it is much slower than Cable and DSL, and fiber-optic Internet blows it out of the water. Speed stays consistently between 3 mbps and 15 mbps. To add insult to injury, it costs more than DSL, cable, and fiber-optic Internet service.
Fiber-Optic internet service uses fiber-optic cable to connect to the World Wide Web. Thousands of fine glass threads are contained in each cable, connecting you to the Internet with light. Fiber-optic Internet is faster than all other types of Internet services, but availability is scare and scattered like spots on a Dalmatian throughout the greater Houston area. Cost for most fiber-optic Internet service is comparable to DSL and Cable but incredibly faster.
Google Fiber has been launched in a few cities across the United States including Austin. Unfortunately Houston was not selected as one of the cities for Google Fiber’s pilot program, which offers free Internet for homes that wish to remain at regular broadband speeds (similar to Cable and DSL). If you are lucky to live in one of these cities and want to get their lightning speed fiber-optic, it’ll cost between $70-to-$120 a month and include a huge list of television channels and a Nexus 7 tablet. Hopefully Google will bring this service to Houston soon! In the meantime we’ll have to make do.
How to Choose the Best Internet Company
If you’re shopping Internet service providers in Houston you need to factor in three very important considerations: availability, price, and speed. First, check to see which companies service your area; many Houstonians might be surprised to learn that their options are quite limited. Then consider your budget, and the speed you need. If you have many devices, work from home, frequently watch streaming videos, or enjoy gaming you should definitely opt for premium high-speed packages.
Big 3 Internet Providers vs. Smaller Local Ones
Let’s take a look at the thre biggest Internet service providers (ISPs) in Houston: Comcast/Xfinity, AT&T, and DirecTV. While these brands are most recognizable they shouldn’t be the only companies on your list to check out. Many local and smaller companies offer DSL, cable, and fiber-optic services also and they usually have more flexible plans and better prices than the big three. Not to mention better customer service and affordable custom bundling options. And smaller ISPs are less likely to slap you with one of the new copyright alerts that rolled out in February of 2013. The big companies will slow down your Internet access speed and block it altogether if they suspect you downloaded shareware or copyrighted files without permission. A few of the lesser known Internet service providers worth considering in our area include:
· All Connect
· En Touch
· Ciro Net
Internet Bundle Deals and Provider Comparisons
Also try sites like www.bundlemybills.org or www.nextwave.org to find service bundle deals in your area as well as White Fence to compare high-speed Internet service providers in Houston. Remember, just because a particular Internet service claims to be faster or more dependable, certain inherent variables exist among each type. Keep them in mind when choosing the right plan for your home or business.
Do you know of any other good local Internet service provider comparison sites or resource sites that I missed? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list. Happy Internet hunting Houston!