Unless you've moved in the past year or so, odds are you're still with the same broadband provider you used when you first arrived in your current home.
Even though there are a variety of options out there including fiber optic, satellite, DSL, and cable - not to mention the various new mobile options that have sprung up in recent years - many of you are still stuck with what you initially thought was the best broadband.
Finding the best broadband today isn't nearly as challenging as it was five years ago, but finding one that offers the best price today for the most comprehensive plan can be a bit trickier.
Competition between the providers increased as demand for higher speeds and lower prices has become a sticking point for consumers.
But how do you know that the speeds being advertised are actually going to be delivered?
Best broadband speeds - the FCC clocks in
In a recent study from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the government agency looked at both individual broadband providers and the specific methods of delivery to find which options were most consistent.
As of September 2012, only four out of 15 companies (Cablevision, Comcast, Verizon FiOS, ViaSat/Exede) provided 100 percent or more of the advertised download and upload speeds during peak hours. The other 66 percent of companies involved in the study all cleared the 80th percentile, but couldn't quite keep up with the other four.
Of the five delivery methods, satellite surprisingly outclassed cable, DSL, and fiber quite handily, according to the FCC, hitting 137.2 percent of its advertised speed during peak hours.
The aging DSL services were only able to provide 85 percent of the advertised speed. Cable is still a strong option, as it averaged 98.5 percent, while fiber providers were able to give customers 115 percent of what was advertised.
Though these are just averages, it's immediately clear which types of services do give customers what they were promised. With that in mind, let's take a look at the current crop of offers from the best broadband providers using those metrics.
Best broadband - by the numbers
Verizon FiOS followed closely behind Exede in the FCC report, but does have a bit more flexibility to offer customers. Its four plans are unlimited through all times of day, and even the lowest tier offers better speeds immediately. With two-year agreements, you can get speeds of 15/5 for $60 per month, 50/25 for $70 per month, 75/35 for $80 per month, and 150/65 for $130 per month. Those numbers are on average though; as for the first year Verizon offers a discounted rate, which increases $20 per month during the second 12-month term of the deal.
Cablevision's Optimum broadband plans aren't nearly as generous, even if the provider did fall in just behind Exede and Verizon FiOS in surpassing expected speeds. Without bundling alongside television and phone services, Optimum's entry fee is $55 per month for 15/2 speeds. You can increase your download and upload with Optimum Boost (50/8), which runs you another $14.95 on top of the standard fee. Cablevision's top tier, Optimum Online Ultra, is another $55 more to get speeds of 101/15. Optimum Ultra also requires a $300 activation fee in addition to what you've already invested.
With Xfinity, Comcast has several plans following closely in line with what its competitors offer. However, Comcast's prices are only guaranteed for the first six months, after which they all increase by at least $15 per month.
You could get the Performance plan (20/4) for $35 ($50 after six months), the Blast plan (50/10) for $60 ($75 after six months), or the Extreme 105 plan (105/20) for $90 ($115 after six months). The Performance plan does look like the best broadband available from all providers thus far, but after one year, Comcast warns the price could increase to up to $65 per month based on where you live.
Since all the companies have installation fees and rental charges associated with the services, those tend to wash out in the end. All of these prices are suggested for new customers, but that doesn't mean existing consumers can't also take advantage of the deals.
Fortunately, we've got a handy tool to help you find the best broadband in your local area. If you're fed up with your current service, or just looking to see if there's a better deal out there, take a look and see if you can't improve your situation with our help.
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