In spite of rapid expansion over the last decade, many locations throughout America lack access to broadband Internet. For many, broadband, or "high speed" Internet has become almost important a utility as electricity or water. The lack of broadband access, or poor options, can be a proverbial deal breaker for many considering relocating to or from a city or town.
Who Provides Internet Service?
One of the best tools in determining whether an area may have broadband Internet is the website of the local chamber of commerce and government. Nearly all local governments have a Chamber of Commerce, and many of them provide a searchable list of businesses that operate in the area. Searching for "Internet service providers" will give you a list of which companies provide online access in the area. However, some companies may not necessarily provide broadband Internet access; only dial-up.
Who Provides Broadband?
Armed with a short list of companies doing business in the area you are interested in, evaluate their websites to confirm whether or not each company provides Internet service with speeds greater than 56 kilobits per second, the maximum speed of a dial-up, non-broadband connection. Even if the company offers broadband in your city, however, it may not be available at certain locations within that city.
Does My Neighborhood Get Broadband?
Many ISPs allow you to see if you get service simply by entering an address. If you already live at the location you'd like to check for broadband, determining availability is as easy as entering your address into the ISP's website. For those who are merely considering a place to live, borrow an address from the neighborhood you're considering. If going to the service provider's website is not an option, or it doesn't provide an automated check for service, call the company's customer service number and ask for a representative to check for availability.
Which Service Is Better?
You may be faced with a choice between two service providers for broadband --- often a digital subscriber line, DSL, and a cable television provider. Some broadband service providers have issues that make the service not worth the high-speed upgrade --- poor customer service or inadequately maintained trunk lines are among a few examples. Look up the Better Business Bureau record on any company you're considering. Though the BBB does not generally list individual comments in a complaint, you can look up information regarding the kinds of complaints that have been made against an ISP. Furthermore, a look at the BBB ranking for the company can also show you whether or not issues have been resolved. BBB also lists any government actions that might be pending against a company due to consumer complaints.
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