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check your internet reliability before you move
© Fabio Formaggio |
Tech tips

Pro tip: Check the internet reliability before you move

Bill Gates once said, “The internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” Internet is such an integral part of our lives that not having access can become quite the sticky wicket.

Most people forget that your internet reliability can differ significantly depending on where you live, who your provider is, and what equipment you’re using. If you have good internet now, what happens if you move?

A lot can change when you move, including service providers, so checking the internet reliability is a must. If you’re worried about internet reliability in the future or already have a terrible connection, there are a few things you can do to improve your situation.

Internet is not the same everywhere

We’ve come to assume, wrongly, that the internet is the internet no matter where we live. (If you live in a rural area, you’re probably shaking your head right now.) Sadly, this isn’t the truth. What affects your internet speed? Several factors, starting with your location and service provider.

Depending on where you live, four main types of internet are available: DSL, cable, fiber, and satellite. Rural areas, urban areas and the suburbs may have different options in your state, all affecting your speed.

Typically, fiber internet connections are the fastest, but it’s not easy to find. Cable and DSL are more widespread and usually more reliable.

Service providers

In addition to the types of internet available to you, different regions have different service providers. All service providers are not created equally. The bad news is there isn’t much you can do if you’re relocating to an area with limited choices.

You might have several options if you live in a big city, or just one in a smaller area. If you live in Rapid City, South Dakota, you only have one option for fiber and DSL internet, plus two satellite internet choices. But if you live in some regions of New York City, you have more than 10 choices.

What speeds do you need? Here’s how to find the best internet plan for you.

Moving? Check the internet first

Whether you’re buying your first house, relocating for a new job or downsizing, the chances of moving at least one more time in your life are high. Before you move, you’ll want to be sure you have reliable internet choices at your new place. Sometimes, even moving one ZIP code can help or hurt your ability to get a good connection.

Ask the landlord or the neighbors

If you’re moving to an apartment, one of the many questions you ask is who the available service providers for the building are. Ask about speed and cost. If you want to be very thorough, try asking the landlord to connect to the Wi-Fi in the building on your phone or laptop.

Then you can run a quick speed test to verify the information the landlord is giving you. Tap or click to try our favorite speed tests and how to get the most accurate results.

What if you are purchasing a home?

Renting a home is one thing, but what if you plan on purchasing a home and want to make sure the house has a reliable connection? A home is a significant expense, and if you buy a home and the internet isn’t reliable, you are in a worse situation than if you are renting.

If there is a major issue with a rental, you call the owner to take care of it. If you have a problem when you own your home, you have to fix it yourself. Here’s how to be sure the home you are about to purchase isn’t an online bust.

Check with the previous owners

When you look to purchase a home, check first to see what type of internet connection the previous owners had set up. What company did they use for phone and internet services? Ask them clarifying questions so you can get a better idea of what the internet is like in the home:

  • How many devices did they run at one time?
  • Were they able to stream movies and television?
  • Who was their service provider? Did they check with competitors?
  • What plan did they purchase?

Check the house for wiring

There are many types of internet, and if your potential new home has had many previous owners, it may be set up for more than one type of internet.

Check to see if lines and connections for Cable or DSL are already present in the home. If the house is already pre-wired, you can choose the fastest option.

Ask for a speed test report

It’s a seller’s responsibility to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. Part of this information can be confirmed internet reliability. Ask the sellers to perform a speed test and provide you with proof of internet reliability before you decide.

Already have bad internet? All hope isn’t lost

What if you already have bad internet and want to fix it? All is not lost, and there’s a lot you can do to improve your connection. Keep in mind, you won’t be able to get speeds beyond what your provider is contracted to deliver, so that is a built-in limiter.

Run through the basics

Many factors could be clogging up your connection, from Wi-Fi thieves to using the wrong channel. Tap or click here for a list of steps to take. If one works, you’ll feel like an IT pro. Don’t worry. We include all the directions you need.

Update your router

Routers can become less effective over time, and upgrading to a better router can do a lot for your internet speeds and reliability. If yours is years old, replace it.

Aim for at least an 802.11 N or AC router with dual or triple band capabilities. AC routers have a maximum spectral bandwidth of around 8 x 160 MHz, compared to the 4 x 40 MHz standard of N routers. In other words, the increased bandwidth allows more data to be transmitted without slowing down.

A simple way to choose a router is based on the size of your home. Tap or click here for the best routers for homes from under 1,000 feet to over 5,000 feet.

Check other available providers

If tinkering with settings and upgrading your equipment didn’t work, double-check the options in your area. Perhaps you have DSL, but another provider offers fiber internet with better upload and download speeds.

Head to Broadband Now, then call around to see what your choices are. You can always use what you find to push for better speeds from your existing company, too, and you might save a buck.

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