Guide to Internet Service Plans

Choosing the Internet Plan that is right for you

The internet and use of the world wide web have grown exponentially over the past twenty years. Today it is the number one information and research tool and is quickly encompassing all forms of media and communication. Telephones, newspapers, and even television networks and movies can now be accessed through the internet

Internet access is available in a variety of different ways. The type of access available, and what your internet needs are, will determine which plan you should select.

What is available in your area?

At its most simple, there are two forms of internet available. The first is dial-up, which uses a traditional phone line that your computer is hooked up to. Your computer actually calls an internet service provider (or, ISP) over the phone line. When using dial-up internet, you will not be able to make or receive phone calls unless you have an additional line. This is the slowest and oldest form of internet service.

The second type of internet service is broadband. The term broadband actually encompasses several different forms of internet, but they are all distinguished from dial-up in that they are significantly faster and better suited to accessing current web content.
Broadband is becoming increasingly more available throughout Oregon. Broadband methods include DSL, which is provided through landline telephone wires, cable, which is provided by cable television companies, and fiber optic systems. There are also wireless, mobile, and satellite options available.

Dial-up internet today is available pretty much anywhere that there are landline phone lines. If choosing dial-up, you want to make sure that the ISP you choose has local access numbers for your computer to call, so that you don’t incur long distance charges.

Broadband is available in many areas. In locations where there is no DSL, cable, or fiber optic lines, satellite internet can installed to access the interent at faster speeds than dial up.

What are you using the Internet for?

If you are only using the internet for simple tasks such as sending and receiving e-mail, or looking up information such as phone numbers, than dial up may be sufficient for your needs. Keep in mind, however, than much of the content on the web these days is filled with images, music, and video that were not designed to be accessed at the slow speeds of dial up. Attempting to surf the web with dial up may become a frustrating experience.

For all other uses, you will want to look at broadband. Broadband allows access to all of the content on the world wide web. With broadband, you will be able to surf the web with ease, download music, watch videos, and use other services such as VoIP.

What speed of broadband do you need?

In many areas that have broadband access, there are different levels download speeds available at various price points. For general internet use, a speed of 1 Mbps should give a smooth, albeit relatively slow, web experience. Streaming audio from online radio stations will be of high quality, and videos can be streamed from websites such as Youtube.

Higher speeds may be available in your area for an additional cost, and you will most likely notice a difference in upgrading your speed. Websites will load faster, higher quality streaming of audio and video will be available, and you will be able to download files faster. However, If you do not think you’ll be using the internet for multimedia purposes, then a higher download speed may not be needed.

Please keep in mind that the advertised speed a provider lists on their service plan may not be the actual, or even average, speed available. Most likely what is listed is the peak, or maximum, speed available. The actual speed is often difficult to determine until the service is installed, as your location and equipment will play a factor in this. If you have concerns about your actual speed, you should speak with your service provider for more information.