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Help for finding a new Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Here are some questions you should ask an ISP before signing up with them. Some of these questions are answered when you view a specific ISP on this website, but many can be answered when you click through to that specific ISP's website. Try to get the answers to these questions before making a final decision. Also take note of the ISP when you call them. Where they polite ? Did they answer your call quickly ? Were you on hold for any length of time ? Do not choose an ISP until you know for sure that these are the people for you!

  1. Is technical support part of normal service or an added cost?
    There may charge and additional cost for technical support, if you are very technical then this may not be an issue for you, but for someone who feels they may need help you might not want to have to pay extra for it.
  2. Is there a refund for downtime or network outages?
    Generally speaking only commercial accounts have uptime guarantees, but that doesn't mean you should not expect a certain level of service. Find out exactly what that level will be.
  3. Do they support your computer?
    Do they support your version of Windows, Mac or Linux, for example.
  4. What equipment do you need?
    If you are getting DSL or Cable broadband, for example, you may need an Ethernet card. Do you have to own your own DSL or Cable modem? Or can you rent?
  5. Is telephone support available via a local call, 800 number, or long distance?
    Find out if the call to the ISP’s technical support department is going to incur charges on your phone bill, or if it is toll-free.
  6. What are the hours the technical support office is open?
    Many ISPs do not offer 24 hour technical support. So find out when you can and can not expect to be able to contact them.
  7. What software is provided and/or required?
    For DSL in many parts of Canada PPPoE is used, which requires PPPoE software (If not using a router) make sure they provide PPPoE software to you.
  8. Are free trial connections available?
    Some ISPs do offer trial accounts.
  9. Do they offer toll-free dialup numbers if you are on the road?
    Some ISP’s have a toll free number to dial into if a user is traveling, or at least see if they have local dial-up for the cities you frequent. If you travel this may be important to you.
  10. Can multiple users use the same account at the same time?
    Most ISP’s only allow one person to connect at one time with an account. Some don't mind though. Or you can network your computers to by pass this issue.
  11. Do they support home networks?
    If you have multiple computers you may want to allow them to allow get online at once. This can be done by networking, some ISPs do not support this.
  12. Is a contract required?
    We recommend no contract, but you may want to be guaranteed a full year of service, but beware of penalties for breaking that contract if you have to.
  13. After signing up, how long does it take to get online with the ISP?
    Most ISPs seem to be 5 business days or less. But get confirmation because you don't want to call the ISP and complain before the minimum time frame.
  14. Are there bandwidth limits (Caps)?
    We do provide this information for you on our site when viewing any specific ISP. Some ISPs have different cap levels so you may want to see if they have a lower or higher cap for better pricing.
  15. Are there charges for additional bandwidth?
    Many ISPs now charge for bandwidth above and beyond a monthly limit (cap) our site provides you with the cap of that ISP, but you'll need to confirm from your ISP the price per gigabyte if you go over that cap.
  16. Is space for web pages included?
    This information is provided on our site for you.
  17. Do they offer SPAM filtering and / or Virus scanning?
    SPAM is unsolicited commercial email which many people do not even want to see. Some ISPs can block that for you.
  18. Do they filter online content for your children?
    Some ISPs do have programs to block offensive content. This may be something you want them to do for you to help keep your children away from offensive content on the internet.
  19. How long has the ISP been in business?
    This can help you get a feel for the company and their legitimacy.
  20. What is their cancellation policy if you choose to cancel?
    Some ISPs may charge you extra to cancel, or not let you cancel before the end of your billing date etc. Find out as this may effect you some day.
  21. What options are available for billing and paying for your account?
    Most ISPs use credit cards for payment, but some now have debit, and can take it right from your bank account. Some allow checks.
  22. What other services do they offer ?
    Many ISPs also offer service like Voice Over IP (VoIP), Television over IP (TVoIP), bonded DSL (Using two DSL lines for faster connections), Fibre Internet, professional website design, networking services, telephone services such as Voicemail to Email or Fax to Email - Many of these services may not only be available to you from your ISP, but available in a bundle package, which can save you significant money.
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