Equipment and Software
First, find out what equipment and software each internet service provider requires, and how (and if) you’ll be charged for them.
1. Is the modem price included in the monthly access fee or is will I be charged a rental fee each month?
2. Can I purchase my own modem that will work with your service?
3. Who is responsible for the equipment if it breaks, and is there a warranty?
Most providers offer different speeds at different prices. It’s a good idea to know what you plan to do online so you can get the right speed–at the right price.
4. What internet speeds do you offer?
5. Do you throttle bandwidth-intensive users?
6. Do you know what the peak usage times are?
Maintenance and Security
Know what to expect when technical problems and upgrades arise, and you’ll save yourself panic and inconvenience in the long run. Here are some questions to ask so you know what to expect from your ISP:
7. How often have you had customers reporting outages? About how long do they last?
8. What security options are included and how much do they cost? (Many ISPs offer a security suite download for free.)
9. How often do you update your antivirus files and apply software patches?
10. Do you have 24/7 technical support?
11. Is technical support available online, on the phone, on email, or a combination of these?
Prices and Contracts
Most ISPs today offer no-contract prices and with-contract prices to their customers. Be sure to ask for details and know what is reasonable for you.
12. Is there a contract?
13. What is the minimum contract length?
14. Is there a cancellation fee for canceling early?
15. How long do I have if I am dissatisfied and want to cancel with no penalty?
16. Once the term of the contract is up, will my monthly costs change?
17. How do you handle price increases and is my price guaranteed for a certain time?
18. Is the service unlimited, or is there a limit on the monthly usage?
19. If there is a limit each month, are there penalties for going over, including fees or having my service slowed or cut off?
20. What additional fees can I expect?
Photo: Ed Needs a Bicycle/Flickr