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30 Jul

The Typical Charges in an Internet Plan

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There are very many ISPs out there, who advertise attractive deals to catch your eye and reel you in towards a subscription. However, many people who sign up for internet service later find internet service providers tend to throw in extra charges in the bill they send in at the end of the month. You may be shocked by the extra $20 charge for something you did not even know you were getting in the first place.

As a consumer, you can protest hidden internet fees should you ever encounter them. However, we find internet service providers generally list out the charges you can incur, either on their plan details page, or in their terms and conditions. Some are crafty enough to bury this vital information in some obscure cranny on their website, so that most consumers remain unaware of it and stay likely to sign up. While miscellaneous fees are bad, it is the relatively hidden typical fees, which you should be most aware of.

Introductory Price and Normal Price

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Internet Plan Charges

First off, these two are not the same. You may find internet service providers offering a connection for insane prices, sign up for one, and see a steep rise in the bill amount after a year is up. The problem here is that you did not pay attention to the wording of the introductory deal. May ISPs offer remarkably low-priced connections whose fees stay the same for a limited period. You need to watch how long that is, because after you exceed it, the monthly rate rises to what the provider offers as standard. They may also this the “prevailing monthly rate”.

Places to Look for the Standard Internet Rates

  • Offer details page: When going through plan options offered by different providers, you are bound to see some text under the plan price you are interested in, usually something like “pricing info” or “see offer details”. Click on this and you will likely be taken to a page that has complete details regarding the pricing and validity of different deals. Nine times out of ten, this information will be displayed in a format that is hard to sit and read through, but that is exactly what you should do.
  • Page footer: If there is an asterisk next to a promotion you are interested in, you can scroll down until you find the same thing at the bottom, next to the information you are looking for. This will be tiny-print text giving out details on the current offer, as well as regular pricing it will default to once the promotional period is up. Language like “Limited time offer” and “One year offer” should be attended to, because that tells you how long you can enjoy the advertised perks. Furthermore, you will find internet service providers are not required to mention what exactly the “standard” rates are, which means you would have to check that out as well.
  • Online shopping cart: One place to look for the normal pricing is the online purchase page. Most ISPs would tell you the typical rates as you choose options.

Perks of Promotional Pricing

  • If you find internet service providers offering attractive promotions, and sign up for one, there is a guarantee that you will be paying a relatively low bill amount for a fixed duration, which can be year, or the length of the contract.
  • While being treated to internet service at a low price, you have the option to find and line up other options to witch to once the contract is up. This does not work if you have subscribed to a lifetime deal, or even a normal one where you pay month-to-month.

Rental Fee

You find internet service providers that charge extra for renting out a modem, router, or both. This is not much of a “hidden” fee, especially when signing up initially. However, many people tend to overlook it, much to their financial detriment.

Renting is easy, but most ISPs charge inordinately, often to the tune of $10-15 a month. That said, owning a modem or router that is compatible with your service choice can be a good thing in the long term, but the upfront cost will no doubt seem steep. You may be able to get the money back after a year or so, and buy and start using a branded and compatible wireless router.

When buying your own equipment, you need to ensure it works with the services you are getting. Double check with the provider to see if there will be connectivity issues after you set it up, and if there is, ask them if they can sell you a modem router combo that is guaranteed to work.

Finding Rental Fee Information

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You generally find internet service providers to be upfront about the need for renting equipment. The only problem is, almost every provider puts this information in a different place on their website. There are many possible stops, you can make online for said information, such as the following.

  • The provider’s equipment page
  • The provider’s plan details and options page
  • Their service support page
  • A page listing “authorized devices”
  • A page listing the terms of service

If you have equipment you can use, then see if the provider has a site dedicated to information regarding its compatibility. Some of the bigger Telcos have pages where you have the option to order compliant internet accessories right off the bat. The catch with some ISPs is that they may require you to use solely their equipment as part of the requirement for service guarantee, so you should be aware if this is the case. If none of this goes anywhere, them up and ask how you can get the needed equipment.

Data Limit Fees

The average internet user does a variety of things online, such as stream videos, look through social media pages, pay bills, etc. All this usage still leaves them on the safe side of the data limit. However, many users burn through data a lot faster than this, which is why they need a proportionally high data allowance per month, which of course would cost more. The data caps and fees would vary based on the provider you chose to go with, although extra data is usually charged at around $10 for 50 GB.

Figuring Out your Data Limit Fees

Clicking on stuff like “See offer details” can get you information that includes details on your intended plan’s monthly data allowance. This will likely be accompanied by a way to purchase additional data each month, or even purchase unlimited data. Triple play package providers would also list out the pricing benefits of combining services, one of these often being unlimited internet data.

If you have questions on data usage, you should check out the support page on the provider’s website. It will have FAQs, as well as the topical articles covering every aspect of the deals they are offering. Sometimes, you find internet service providers like XFINITY® who help subscribers stay within the data cap by alerting them they have consumed a high percentage of monthly allowed data.

Late Payment Fees

Defaulting on your internet bill payment almost always invites a late fee, no matter which ISP you are getting service from. This is one area, where they tend not to budge, and the late fee for a month can range between $5 and $25. This is why setting up an automatic draft is a good idea. If you decide not to do that for some reason, at least set yourself a reminder that alerts you when the payment date is near. Additionally, some ISPs charge a return check fee in cases where the payment does not clear, and this applies to card payments as well.

Finding Information on Late Payment Fees

The first place to look for information on late payment fees, is the Support page on the provider’s website. After that, you should also check out the “billing terms and conditions”, because that is bound to cover returned payments, late payments, and reactivation costs resulting from the provider cutting off service because you did not pay for a long while.

Dropping, Moving, and Cancelling Fees

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You would normally find internet service providers do not mandate service contracts, at least not the good ones. Everyone offers the contact option though, and once you sign, you have to keep paying until it expires, or be charged an early termination fee. Often in the case of large providers, this fee is prorated based on the duration of service you have already paid for. That means if you are just a month shy of contract expiry, you would have to pay lower early termination fee than if you had, say, half a year left to go.

Certain providers also need you to get a contract extension whenever you change your address. This lets you steer clear of an early termination fee, but your contract length may get extended as a result. Just be sure to read the terms and conditions thoroughly. If you cancel a single service component of a service bundle before the promotion you availed ends, you may well lose all of the reduced rates on the individual services.

Setup Fees and Costs

When subscribing to cheap internet service from a provider, you would normally be given the option to establish your own modem router in the home. Most ISPs set it up for customers at no extra charge. If you want this done by a professional technician, the ISP would tell you how much that would cost. Just be sure you do not miss out on any free installation offers, particularly if you are dealing with unique equipment, such as in the case of satellite or fiber internet. Even ISPs that normally have charge in place for this may offer it gratis, as part of a promotion.

Finding Out about Internet Setup Fees

Information regarding fees for internet setup can be found alongside the list of equipment you need to begin using the service. This may mean that what you are looking for is on the “Terms of Service” page. If the provider likes to be open with such information, they may even put it up on a plan pricing page. This is even more probable if they are waiving the installation fee as part of a promotion.

Other Places to Go for Fee and Charge Information

When you try to uncover any hidden internet fees from a provider’s side, and their main pages have nothing of use to you, then it is best to head on to their community forum. Such forums always have employees monitoring them, which mean, at any time of day, you can ask them about the costs, as well as why your bill is so high. Some forums even have discussions between employees and subscribers, where the former is able to remove any mischarges the latter has been subjected to.

If even that does not work, then up their customer service team. If you are lucky, you may find someone to help you out at understanding whatever is bothering you.

Bundling

It is common to find internet service providers who wish to sell you the three main entertainment service as a bundle – TV, internet, and phone. Clumping them together not only makes payments simpler, it also lets you get off paying a discounted price. When there are two services in a bundle, it is called a double play package, and when there are three services being clumped, it is called a triple play package. Following are some of the benefits of bundling.

  • A single bill: This carries the overall monthly fees you need to pay for getting internet, phone, and TV service in your home. It saves you time and minimizes risk of late payment.
  • Sign-on Bonuses: Many people find internet service providers that offer huge incentives to people willing to drop their old provider and come over. On top of that, if you order more than one service, your incentives get bigger as well. Many companies have been known to give gift cards worth over $ to new customers who bought a triple play bundle. Based on the package of choice, there may even be an option to get free service for the first several months.
  • Faster internet: A cable provider may upgrade your internet speed because you chose to bundle your cable and internet services together. You may also stand to receive special features, products, and other incentives.
  • Membership Rewards: Customers who bundle may get entered into a rewards program which lets them earn points that can later be cashed in for merchandise.
24 Jul

How to Go about Choosing an Internet Service

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Fast internet is a hard thing to live without these days. While there are many service options to pick from, the more speed you want, the fewer these boil down to. Many areas in the country have access to no more than two choices when it comes to getting wired broadband.

What you Can Get in your Area

To get a new internet connection, you need to find internet service providers servicing your location. This is easily done; simply Google it along with your zip code and you will get a list of all companies currently delivering internet service in the area. There are some sites that generate revenue each time you click one of their links to listed recommendations, but some of these do provide accurate and often useful information about what you need. Be wary of handing out personal information, but try to learn as much as you can about the options open to you.

Internet Service Types

It is not enough to simply find internet service providers in your area; this should be followed up with research into what each of them offers in terms of service. Various aspects need to be looked at, including speeds, reliability, and cost. Cable and DSL are two of the fastest internet options you can go for, and then there is also fiber optic internet to consider. However, the latter is far less common in the country, and if you live in a remote or rural location, chances are you will not find internet service providers offering this in your neighborhood. In such cases, satellite is always an option, although it does not bring the same level of speed as cable or DSL.

After you find internet service providers whose plans are within your budget, the next step is to decide what speeds you will have need of, so that it gets easier to choose among the various types of internet service. Always prefer broadband, because it offers higher speeds than dial-up. Broadband covers different types of internet service, each of which is detailed below.

DSL Internet

This is a form of internet delivery, which makes use of a local phone line to bring internet signals into your home. Where dial-up leaves you unable to use the phone and the internet simultaneously, DSL assigns a separate frequency for the latter so that the two do not get in each other’s way. That means you will never pick up the phone and be treated to the annoying sound which indicates someone in the house is on the internet, something which most former dial-up users have nightmares about.

DSL Service Providers

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DSL is slower than cable and fiber optic. Download speeds generally range between 1 Mbps and 12 Mbps, but there are companies that offer connection speeds of up to 45 Mbps to customers, although you would be lucky to find internet service providers of the latter type. 1 Mbps only suffices to cover basic tasks like checking your mail and browsing the web. A bit higher on, 7 Mbps speed allows you to comfortably stream medium quality audio and video, but would cause lags if multiple devices were connected. The more devices you connect, the higher the speeds you will need, which is why most people leave their home Wi-Fi password protected, so that no guest or neighbor can simply connect and start using up data, unless they are given the password of course.

Pros

  • Available almost everywhere
  • More affordable than fiber and satellite

Cons

  • Slower than fiber optic and cable internet
  • Actual download speeds rarely match the advertised “up-to” speeds; With cable and fiber, they do

Cable Internet

You mostly find internet service providers offering cable internet with speeds ranging between 15 and 25 Mbps. Relaying internet signals though cable wires instead of a telephone line, cheap cable internet is consequently faster than DSL. You find internet service providers providing speeds as high as 300 Mbps on their highest tiers, which easily outshoots the 45 Mbps maximum speed of the best DSL offerings. While most households do not need internet faster than 100 Mbps even when multiple devices are connected, businesses by and large are able to derive immense productivity benefits from access to such speeds. Moreover, cable is found to be more reliable than DSL.

Pros

  • Faster than fiber optic and DSL, as long as you choose from the higher tiers
  • Gives better reliability than DSL

Cons

  • Costs more than DSL and other alternatives
  • May be unavailable in your neighborhood, and if not, may only be offered by a single provider

Fiber Optic Internet Service

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Usually the fastest option find internet service providers offering, fiber optic brings speeds of 25 to 75 Mbps to subscribers, which is comparable to what cable puts on the table. However, it beats both cable and DSL at upload speeds. The usable upload speed in a connection is important for people who do video conferencing and file sharing. With cable internet, an advertised 25 Mbps download rate would usually be paired with a mismatched 1 Mbps upload rate. DSL is worse in this; often coupling 6 Mbps advertised download rate with a meager 0.5 Mbps for uploads. On the other hand, fiber optic providers offer upload speeds of no less than 5 Mbps on their lowest tiers.

The main drawback of fiber optic internet is its limited availability. In many areas of the country, you still would not find internet service providers offering this type of service. The main reason for this is the requirement of separate dedicated cables, specifically cables containing specially constructed tiny glass fibers, which can relay information in the form of bursts of light.

Pros

  • Faster than DSL at downloads, and cable at uploads

Cons

  • Not widely available, especially compared to DSL or cable

Satellite Internet

This form of internet is the go-to option for individuals and businesses that cannot find internet service providers offering one of the alternative service types in their neighborhood. It costs more than the other options and brings lower speeds, but deliver internet access anywhere in the country as long as you have an unobstructed view of the southern sky (since we are to the North of the equator), and a properly placed satellite dish. A satellite holding geosynchronous orbit sends signals to this dish and receives the information it sends out. The main advantage of satellite internet is that you can always connect to the internet, and not have to hang up the phone for it either.

Mobile Broadband

You find internet service providers like AT&T®, Verizon®, and many others providing mobile broadband services. For the uninitiated, these let you connect to the internet through a cellular network, which is similar to accessing internet data on your smartphone. The subscriber needs to have a functioning wireless modem or hot spot for this. The packages offered are highly similar to cell phone plans, where you pay for a definite number of gigabytes of data each month and get to use that. The costs also include a fee for getting each device connected, whether tablet, USB modem, or mobile hot spot. Based on affordability and data allowance, mobile broadband leaves a lot to be desired – you would be hard pressed to find internet service providers offering packages comparable to the options under DSL, cable and fiber. However, the former does come in handy when you are on the road.

Choosing the Right Service for you

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Choosing The Best Option

After familiarizing yourself with the different types of service that ISPs offer and provide, you need to make a choice based on which of these suits you. Two main factors should drive you decision: what speeds you require, and whether you can find internet service providers giving out that specific type of service in your area. The latter can weed out a lot of options if you live in a remote or rural area, leaving you with just a few companies to choose from. After that, you will probably get to choose among different speed tiers, because most services have more than one.

Advanced users and those with several devices to connect, would do well to sign up for a higher-tiered plan. Most others can get what they want from a cheaper plan; besides buying more speed than you need is a waste of money.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is best defined as the upper limit to your download speeds. It is analogous to the size of a water hose. A 100-gallon tank can be filled up in 20 minutes with a hose that can carry 5 gallons per minute, and much faster by a fire hose, which can obviously transfer a lot more water in the same time. Similarly, the more bandwidth you can access, the less time it will take to download or upload data.

The most commonly used unit of bandwidth is bits per second (bps). This is not the same as bytes per second (Bps). A byte of data is made up of 8 bits, making 1 megabyte (MB) equal to 8 megabits. A 1 Mbps connection theoretically allows you to download an MB of data in eight seconds. That means the average MP3 file of 6 MB size would get downloaded in 48 seconds, while a 5000 MB movie would take around 11 hours.

The Bandwidth you Need

Your connection would have a bandwidth, which gets shared among all the devices connected on it. Your usage determines how much bandwidth you are going to need generally. If a person in the house is downloading a game while another is streaming a movie, and yet another is posting HQ pictures on Instagram, a lot of bandwidth is needed to ensure everyone is kept happy.

Video streaming usually takes up the maximum amount of bandwidth, for which reason a household running simultaneous streams would require continuous access to higher speeds. A single standard-quality stream can be accommodated by a 3 Mbps connection, while a high-definition stream would entail 5 Mbps or higher. For two simultaneous HD streams, you would need access to around 10 Mbps bandwidth.

Online games take up less data, and hence, require lower bandwidth. What a good gaming experience does require is low latency. Downloading a game is a different thing though. The installer is usually a huge file that would take a lot of bandwidth to download in a short time. People who limit their use to general web surfing, social media, and emailing would not require speeds over 1 Mbps.

One thing to remember is that while you find internet service providers touting really high speeds, there is no guarantee that you will get to access them after signing up. What you do get is the listed speed; the bandwidth you get to enjoy is affected by many factors, including the number of devices online at the time, your hardware, the ISP’s infrastructure quality, etc. On the plus side, subscribers may sometimes get faster speeds than they signed up for, such as when the overall network demand drops.

Pay as much attention to the upload speeds offered, as you do the download speeds. This is important if you plan to be doing a lot of high quality video conferencing or time-sensitive file sharing. The upload speeds are often lower than the download speeds offered, but if you can find internet service providers that are not stingy with the former, it is best to prefer signing up for one of their plans.

Most people living in metro cities have access to reliable and fast internet provided by multiple ISPs, falling under each of the types detailed above. Again, cable is the fastest option, followed by slower internet service types like DSL and others. Fiber optic internet is available in many major cities, but not all. People living in rural areas without other options, would do well to sign up with a satellite service provider, even though this option only gets them annoyingly slow speeds, even lower than cheap cable internet. Those on the move can sign up for a mobile broadband plan from their cellular provider, but this way of staying connected is very expensive, and to be used sparingly if one is watching their budget.

19 May

Top 4 Necessary Tools to Test Fiber Optic Loss

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Fiber Optic Loss

Before spending time for testing fiber optic internet connection on a computer, ensure that modem, router, and connections to it are working fine. If they are, then it is best to test fiber optic cable to know if that has caused optical loss. The pulses of light transmit through optical fibers, and if it is insufficient for a reliable internet connection, it is termed as an optical loss.

Most of the fiber optic internet providers provide affordable broadband, but broken connections are some things that broadband customers come across al lot. It is not that this is specific to only fiber connections, although having the right tools can fix broadband internet outage if it happens on your end.

If you subscribe to connection from one of the best fiber optic internet providers, call for service assistance and confirm that there is no network outage somewhere. If it is not there, and the connection problem is specific to your home broadband, below are a few tools that you can use to self-test fiber optic connections.

Optical Power Meter and Light Sources

Things such as optical power meter and light sources can come in handy if an optical loss is due to damage in the cable line, which may happen even on the lines that come outside the building. While powering up these two tools, make it a point to set the power meter to the light source’s identical wavelength and to place it at the fiber optic cable line’s receiving end. In addition, connect the source meter to its transmitting end.

Fiber Optic Cable Testing Tool

You need such tools to test if an optical loss exists. In other words, it helps to determine the distinction of power that enters the transmitting end of fiber optic cable and the extent of light that exits at the cable’s receiving end.

Fiber Optic Tracers

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This tool has an LED source, which connects to an optical fiber connector. After that, you can use a reference test cable to determine the extent of light being transmitted through the fiber cable line. If there is trace of light, then return to its connector to test and find an issue there.

Test Cable

A reference test cable can be used for determining if the optical loss is due to the cable damage or the connectors used to configure the broadband. If you do not know how to use one, it is better to rely on the service personnel from your internet service provider.

13 Apr

Things to Consider When Choosing an ISP for your Business

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Choosing ISP For Business

Internet service is something you cannot live without these days. It is easy enough to get internet; find internet service providers offering in your area, sign up, and start using. It might not be always that simple though, especially if you are a business. Companies, whether they want a new connection or upgrade their existing one, will need to check a variety of things before they make a decision regarding ISP. Below are a few things to consider.

Type of Connection

You get two main types of internet service these days. One is standard service (broadband), while the other is High Availability service. Under the first group, you have options including cable and DSL, with higher speeds to satisfy most customers, and cheaper cost. The downside is that the quality of service is low, and so is its reliability.

In the High Availability class, you get guaranteed uptime of 99.99%, which is assured in the contract. The connections include T1s and fiber optic internet service. However, note that the Service Level Agreement is important with High Availability services especially if you want guaranteed uptime.

Connection Speed

It can be hard figuring out how much speed your business requires, but what needs to be ensured is that there is enough speed for peak times, and for everyday use. Users can get easily frustrated by a slow connection. Additionally, any applications hosted in the cloud would be near unusable. If you use such applications, or if there is constant need of VoIP, you should clearly note the speed requirements before signing a contract.

Timeframe and Availability

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It would be beneficial to have High Availability Fiber Optic, but not every business has this option. Especially in new construction areas, the availability of even cable and DSL can be limited. Construction and installation can take months, so make sure you prepare accordingly before moving to such a location.

Redundancy

For many companies, it is very important to be constantly connected to the internet. When you cannot afford even a couple of minutes’ worth of downtime, it is better to secure some redundancy. This is a different internet connection, which is used when your main line goes down. Standard internet service has this problem mostly, but it is not unheard of in High Availability fiber internet services.

Still, it is vital to stay aware of the availability. It is better to ask for help from a professional in figuring out if redundancy is required.

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