The internet is a simultaneously beautiful and terrifying place full of knowledge, entertainment and complete idiocy all within a few clicks of each other.
But how do you know which provider or plan is the right one for you? It really comes down to what you want to use it for.
If you want to binge watch every episode of The Kardashians, you’ll need a lot of data. If you want to “own some noobs” on Call of Duty, you’ll want a reliable connection and if you want to prank call random people on Skype, you probably need a hobby.
Once you know what you want to get out of the wonderful world of the interwebs, it’s time to start considering the options. Here’s what you need to know.
Which provider is the best?
This questions boil down to two important factors; The price you are willing to pay and the level of reliability you require.
If you’re doing a lot of “work” from home, you’ll probably want reliability over a cheaper premium. If video buffering sends you into an uncontrollable rage then whoever you live with will want the same.
Or maybe you’re more interested in making snide comments on social media with the mask of anonymity firmly planted upon your e-self, “loling” quietly while you sip some vino. Some short downtime doesn’t matter to this big dog, he can hit enter as soon as it’s back up and running.
The take home point here is if Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net is offering unlimited data for $10 a month, there’s probably a catch. Some providers will require you waive the right to complain about the level of service you receive in return for cheaper premiums and higher data.
Make sure you read the terms of the plan carefully before deciding.
How much data is do I need?
Again, this is going to come down to what you’re doing, but I’ll try to put things in perspective.
An average song in MP3 format is about 3 – 7 megabytes (or MB) depending on the quality of the file. Most plans will offer data in the gigabytes (GB).
1GB = 1000MB which equates to around 200 MP3 songs, give or take. A movie at DVD quality on the other hand will be around 4.5GB, so you can see how it all starts to add up.
If you’re using streaming services like Netflix or Stan on the reg, you’ll want to start looking at plans that offer upwards of 500GB to unlimited, which generally range from $50 – $100 per month depending on the provider.
In summary, maximum data yields maximum entertainment. Write that down.
What else do I need to know?
There are a lot of things that come into play with an internet connection, some of which will be entirely out of your control.
The speed of your connection is determined by a few things; the speed that the plan allows, the quality of cabling inside your home, the distance that your house is from the nearest internet exchange (kind of like a distribution point) and if the gubberment have gotten around to giving your neighbourhood some sweet NBN.
A good provider will be able to give you all of this information when asked, so it’s worth calling your shortlist of providers to see where their nearest exchange is and what kind of speeds you can expect in your area.
The most common plans, ADSL2+ and Naked DSL will require your home to have a phone line, which, unless you live in a cave, shouldn’t be an issue for you. Naked DSL won’t require the phone line to have an active phone number, which can save you a bit of cash money.