Questions to Ask Your Internet Service Provider

If it’s time for you to talk directly to your internet provider, it’s ok if you’re no web wizard. You’ve only got to ask the right questions. Which questions will help your Internet Service Provider (ISP) understand what you need? Use this guide to pick the the most helpful questions to help your ISP find the best solutions for you.

Table of Contents

  • How to Start Finding an Internet Provider
  • Questions about Internet Speeds and Data
  • Questions about Internet Equipment and Software
  • Questions about Internet Maintenance and Security
  • Questions about Internet Prices and Contracts

Summary

No matter why you’re looking for internet right now, it’s important to ensure that you’re purchasing a plan that is right for you. Some aspects of internet to consider are speeds, data, equipment, software, maintenance, security, prices, contracts and more. This post guides you through your deliberations and the questions you can ask to help clarify your choices.

Questions to ask internet providers for better internet service

How to Start Finding an Internet Provider

Whether it’s your first time subscribing to internet for yourself, or it’s just been a few years since you’ve had to do something about your current plan, you might be wondering how best to go about talking to your ISP. You’ll want to express your concerns to your ISP in a way that helps them understand how to help you. No one wants to go through the trouble of talking to customer service only to be left with the same problems at the end of the call.

You want something “better,” but what does that actually mean? Below, you’ll find our question suggestions grouped by general concerns. Consider which ones represent the needs you care about the most and assemble your query list from there.

Questions about Internet Speeds and Data

Think about what you might need to use your internet for prior to asking any questions about speeds and data caps. Do you use it for email, social media, streaming, gaming or other activities? Having a general idea about your household’s typical web usage will help you out when choosing the best plan.

Since most ISPs offer different speeds at different rates, you’ll want to be sure that you’re getting the speed and data you need at a reasonable price. Moreover, you don’t want to be stuck paying for internet that isn’t meeting your needs or—perhaps worse—paying for internet that you don’t even use. If you’re not entirely sure about which speed is appropriate for you, you can use our internet speed quiz.

While you consider which internet speed you would like to subscribe to, consider the following internet speed questions for your prospective ISP:

  • What internet speeds do you offer?
  • Are the advertised internet speeds guaranteed? What can I do if they aren’t?
  • Will you throttle my service if I reach a certain limit?
  • Do you know what peak usage times for my area are?
  • Are there any data caps on this plan?
  • Is there a penalty for exceeding the data cap?

Questions about Internet Equipment and Software

Before you ask any questions about this topic, find out which pieces of equipment and software your ISP will provide. Then find out which ones you’ll be charged for. If you’re thinking about supplying your own equipment for receiving and using your internet service, remember that only certain pieces of equipment are approved by each ISP. Not all ISP-affiliated technicians will be able to help you troubleshoot your device if something happens. Therefore, supplying your own device means you can safely vouch for your ability to do potential damage control on your own.

To get you thinking about the equipment you’ll need for your internet, here are some starter questions:

  • Is the modem or router included in my subscription, or will I be charged a rental fee each month?
  • Can I purchase my own modem and still receive your service?
  • Is there a warranty on provided equipment? What do I do if it breaks?

Questions about Internet Maintenance and Security

Nothing is perfect, least of all our technology. Problems will come up at some point, and you should know what to expect from your ISP when they do. Without having some knowledge about how your ISP will be there to support you during times of digital crisis, you leave yourself susceptible to panic and inconvenience. It would be helpful to know, for example, if your ISP offers a complimentary security suite with your plan (some ISPs do).

Internet Security Measures

When you ask any of the following questions, it would be beneficial to keep a reasonable expectation of your own technological know-how in mind:

  • How often do customers report outages? How long do outages normally last?
  • What security options are available as a part of my subscription? Are there any additional security measures I can purchase? If so, what is the cost?
  • How often are your antivirus files updated? How frequently are software patches applied?
  • Is 24/7 technical support available?
  • How can I access your technical support? Through a website, an email, a phone call etc.?

Questions about Internet Prices and Contracts

Of course you want to be sure about the price of your plan! Many ISPs today offer plans without contracts (or plans with contracts at different price points), but it’s important to know what you’re in for. Don’t be afraid to ask for the details to make sure you’re signing up for the plan that’s most appropriate for you.

Here are some questions you can ask your ISP about the financial and contractual obligations associated with your internet plan:

  • Which internet plans are available in my area?
  • Are you offering any specials or promotions? (It never hurts to ask this!)
  • Am I required to sign a contract in order to use your service? If so, what are the terms of that contract?
  • Can I save money if I bundle my internet plan with your TV service (if you offer TV)?
  • Is there a minimum contract length?
  • Is there a cancellation fee if I need to cancel early?
  • Is there a no-penalty termination policy if I am dissatisfied with the service and need to cancel?
  • Once the contract period ends, will my monthly cost change?
  • Is my current price guaranteed for a certain amount of time?
  • How will I be informed of price changes?
  • What additional fees can I expect?

No matter which plan you settle on, make sure that you’re getting that plan for the right price and the right reasons. When you begin the ISP search process by carefully selecting the provider that best meets your needs, you ultimately do yourself a favor. Be kind to Future You: ask the important questions today.

How much internet speed do you really need?

Use our risk-free internet speed recommendation form to get a personalized estimate—without supplying any personal information.

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How many devices are typically connected to the internet in your household at the same time?

Hint: Consider your usage of the following devices: Computers, phones, tablets, smart watches, smart home technology, and anything else that requires an internet connection.

How many members of your household might use the internet simultaneously?

Hint: Consider how many users will be trying to access the internet at the same time within your home. 

On average, how often do you or your family members use video calls?

Hint: Consider the many ways you might use video chats to communicate for things like school, work, meetings, sharing moments with long-distance friends or family, and more. Videoconferences can be held on Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, or any number of other platforms.

How often do you typically stream music?

Hint: Consider the many platforms for listening to music online, such as Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music, Apple Music, YouTube Music, etc.

How often do internet users in your home stream videos in high definition?

Hint: Consider the types of streaming usually enjoyed in your home. You might be able to tell if you’re viewing something in high definition by looking for any of the following terms: HD, UHD, 4K, 1080p, 2K, or high resolution.

How often do members of your household generally play online games?

Hint: Consider how people in your home like to game. Although some games played on a phone use internet, this question is really geared towards users who like to game through computers or gaming consoles.

Frequently asked questions

How do I pick an internet service?

Search for providers that offer service in your area and check out which packages they offer. Select the plan that offers the correct speed for you, and ask your customer service representative specific questions about what the subscription does (or does not) include. You can use our bulleted lists on this page for hints about which questions to ask. If you’re still happy with the plan’s features and pricing after looking closely at it, then that’s the plan for you!

How do I know which internet speed I need?

Consider how many people are using the internet in your home and what they use the internet for. Then take our internet speed quiz found on this page to learn more about your potential minimum internet speed.

How can I get a great deal on internet?

First, make sure you’re looking for only the internet you need. (A typical home, for example, would never need a full Gig of internet speed.) Then shop around for the providers who offer that speed. Browse National Broadband for offers or just go ahead and ask a customer service representative if there are any active deals that you qualify for.

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