Internet Service Tips: Buying Dsl From An Isp

How to understand and buy the best DSL subscription for your family.

As the internet continues to grow and becomes an even more integral part of our everyday lives, upgrading to a broadband connection is good way to enjoy all that the web has to offer. Whether it is enjoying steaming video, using a webcam for distant family chats or downloading those frequent software patches and updates, a broadband internet connection can maximize your enjoyment and minimize your frustration.

DSL (digital subscriber line) was one of the first broadband connections mass marketed for residential use in the United States. It is provided over standard copper telephone lines that are probably already installed in your home. DSL technology uses a digital signal for data transfer while standard telephone conversations use an analog signal, thus both can occur simultaneously over the same line. DSL is an "always available" connection eliminating the need to dial in, simply sign in and you're on your way. DSL offers speed of up to 1.5 mbs (megabits per second) on the download although these transfer rates are often tiered by the providers.

DSL service typically requires a term contract with the provider. Before you enter into to this agreement there are several important questions to ask to effectively compare this service with other options that may be available in your area.

How long is your service contract and what are the early termination/cancellation fees?

Most regional and national providers require a one year service agreement. The installation and provisioning of the line is costly for the provider and they need to keep you as a customer to recoup their costs and begin to make a profit. Early termination fees can range up to $250 so it is important to obtain the amount and conditions in writing prior to accepting the service. Some providers will offer you with a 30 satisfaction guarantee. This is a great option and one that you should ask for if it's not provided just in case the speed of the connection does not live up to your expectations.

How much are the installation and equipment fees?

As the broadband market has grown and become more competitive, most providers will generally waive the installation and equipment fees if you accept the service contract. The standard installation is typically a self-install kit that consists of a DSL modem, a software CD and a quantity of line filters. (Line filters prevent "bleed-over" between the digital and analog signals and will need to be installed on every phone jack in the home that uses a phone.) Additionally, you will want to ask for the price of a "professional" installation. A professional installation becomes necessary if you are not able to complete the installation on your own and a technician must visit to complete. A professional installation averages $200 and is non-refundable.

What speed can I expect and do you offer any speed guarantees?

DSL speeds are affected by a number of factors but of primary concern is the distance of telephone cable between you and the DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer) you'll be connecting to. Simply put, the more distance the less speed you can expect. Your provider should be able to provide you with a fairly accurate estimate of this distance. Most providers will not supply service beyond 18,000 line feet and some premium providers will not offer service beyond 15,000 line feet. Beyond the distance factor, the majority of providers have moved to a tiered service level system, meaning, quite simply, the more you pay the faster you go. Basic packages will typically start at a 384kbs downstream with a 128kbs upstream and range up to 1.5mbs downstream with varying upstream levels. Again, the provider should be able to supply you with an accurate estimate of the speed you can expect at the service level you choose. If you select an upper tier service level plan you should clarify if they will guarantee that you'll receive the speed you're paying for.

How long before I can expect installation?

In the early days of DSL there were stories of up to a six month wait for installation. With the advance of technology and the increase in competition installation times have been greatly reduced. Some providers can offer installation as quickly as a week's time but 2-3 weeks is the industry average.

It is important to remember that in most instances you will need to keep a land-based line active at your home to continue to receive DSL service.

With a little investigative homework you may find that DSL is the best answer to your slow internet connection. Take a little time to find out the details and you will have many months, if not years, of lightning fast, problem free service.

© High Speed Ventures 2011