How to choose an ISP. Seven things techies look out for.

How to choose an ISP. 7 things techies look out for.

Navigating cyberspace is tricky, and it’s possible to have the wool pulled over your eyes, especially if you’re not one with a technical or IT background. We asked our systems engineers and technical specialists their advice on how to choose an ISP.

These are their top seven pointers.

1. Throttling and shaping

Some ISPs throttle and shape fibre internet speed without saying they do. To ensure you receive what you expect and pay for, one should brush up on their technical knowledge of throttling, shaping, and uncapped fibre internet which assists on how to choose an ISP.

Throttling is an internet service provider’s intentional slowing down of fibre internet speeds. Throttling is masked as ‘fair use policy’ and is used to regulate network traffic and minimise bandwidth congestion during peak browsing periods. 

With more people working remotely, throttling and shaping can occur during the day, not only in the evenings. In that case, you’ll find your internet speed drop considerably during busy times.

When you choose an ISP look for those who don’t use these tactics and offer a genuinely uncapped fibre internet experience. If you’re reliant on fast and stable internet, it’s best to choose an ISP that won’t slow your internet speed when traffic on their network is high.

2. ISP rankings on independent platforms

Hello Peter is an example of an independent review platform that can be used to choose an ISP. They connect South African consumers to businesses and visitors can read about other people’s good and bad experiences of service providers with an unbiased perspective.

Research ISP’s using these types of platforms and also these types of articles. Those achieving the highest ratings from customers are responsive to customer complaints, have them resolved speedily and generally provide high-quality service.

We also recommend Google Reviews and Trust Pilot, although relatively new in South Africa. As long as the platform is independent and not a paid-for-review site, they are good beacons in navigating your way on how to choose an ISP. 

3. Internet support and education

Choose an ISP that gives you the after-sales support you need. Do they offer a suite of services like internet diagnosis apps? These types of apps empower customers to run fibre internet diagnostic tests at home.

The more you know about a topic, the more confident you are in dealing with that topic. Here are some things to consider about how your ISP handles your complaints:

  • Do they help you understand your internet issues, like how your router can affect speeds? 
  • Can they point out dead spots in your home and advise on how to fix them?
  • Do they assist in isolating your fibre internet issues? 
  • Are you able to assess the speed and quality of your line?

4. Quality of their customer call centre

Before you choose an ISP understand what their customer support is like. Will they be proactive in dealing with your concerns? 

Customer call centre staff should be keeping abreast of and earning qualifications in this tech space. Support staff straight out of school might be reading from a troubleshooting guide without much real-world experience and this can cause frustration.

5. Frequency of price adjustments and length of contract

Does your ISP contract stipulate that price increases happen only once a year?

FNOs (fibre network operators) adjust pricing at different times of the year. Some ISPs pass price increases onto their customers according to FNO adjustments, but others only do this once a year.

Equally important when choosing an ISP is knowing how long the term of your contract is. There is no need to sign up for 24 months when some ISPs offer month-to-month options with no price difference. 

6. Latency on network

How close you are to servers affects entertainment activities like gaming and streaming movies, which directly impacts your fibre internet experience. ISPs should curb this issue by using tools like Cloudflare DNS, which is lightning quick in responding to queries and provides malware protection.

7. International connectivity 

Which cable systems does your ISP use? 

Ideally, you want to choose an ISP that connects to undersea cables on either side of the country. If one line goes down, they can break out the internet from the other cable and continue delivering services.

How to choose an ISP can be more involved than originally thought. We trust this provides some guidance to make that choice a bit easier.