ISPs: The Best Speed for Your Money
Unsure how much internet speed you need? Here's a look at what the major providers have to offer.
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May 30, 2008 by Ben Hardy
The World Wide Web is the place to be, and the options for getting there have never been greater. We’ve investigated the deals, the speeds, and the availability to help consumers choose a high-speed bandwagon to jump on.

Comparison Points
When placing an internet service provider under the microscope, we’re looking for a few things, including price, speed, and availability. Today’s ISPs are giving consumers a wide range of choices regarding the first two categories. It is not uncommon to see two or three “packages” to choose from, with the more expensive options bringing faster upstream and downstream speeds.

We’d all love fiber optic run to our premises, but let’s face it: currently only a select few in our country have access, so availability is a crucial comparison point when stacking providers up against one another. You might have the fastest speeds, but what do I care if I can’t get it?

Providers are keen to get the edge on one another, so extras like multiple email addresses/mailboxes and large mailbox storage are considered as well. Teaming up with a security software provider (e.g. McAfee) is another growing commonality among internet service providers.

Dial-up
It’s hard to believe that as we approach the second decade in the new millennium there are still those for whom dial-up is the best – or only – option. Still, if checking email occasionally is one’s only need, the 56K or 128K connection will suffice. Here’s a few better-known dial-up ISPs, with and their respective offerings and rates.

Package Name Cost per Month Speed Addresses / Storage Extras Availability
Basic ISP $6.95, unlimited 56K U.S.-based customer service, 24/7 online support 50 States and Canada
Basic ISP HiSpeed Accelerated $9.95, unlimited 56K, 7x faster using compression software 5 U.S.-based customer service, 24/7 online support 50 States and Canada
Copper Internet $9.95, unlimited 56K 5 U.S.-based customer service, 24/7 online support 25,000 access numbers in US and Canada
Copper HiSpeed $14.95, unlimited 56K, 6x faster using compression software 5 U.S.-based customer service, 24/7 online support 25,000 access numbers in US and Canada
NetZero $4.97 (first 3 months), then $9.95, unlimited 56K 1GB Spam protection, free “mysite” website 50 States
NetZero HiSpeed 3G $14.95 56K 2GB Norton Antivirus, pop-up blocker 50 States
EarthLink $9.95 (first 3 months), then $21.95, unlimited 56K 8 10MB of webspace 50 States

Cable Broadband
As with any deal, it’s good to read the cable company’s fine print. For example, Comcast’s website advertises rates applicable only to existing customers (i.e. those currently subscribing to either digital voice or cable services). The table below lists rates for internet only followed by the rate if coupled with some other service. To cover rates for all the permutations (those with Comcast video but no internet, those with Comcast voice but no internet, those who have no subscription with Comcast, etc.) we’d need a much bigger table.

Package Name Cost per Month Speed Down / Up Addresses / Storage Extras Availability
Comcast High-Speed Internet Basic $39.95 / $24.95 786 Kbps / 382 Kbps 7 Free McAfee Security Roughly 25 states
Comcast Performance High-Speed Internet $59.95 / $52.95 6.0 Mbps / 348 Kbps 7, and 175MB online file storage Free McAfee Security, free streaming audio through Rhapsody Roughly 25 states
Comcast Performance PLUS High-Speed Internet $67.95 / $52.95 8.0 Mbps / 768 Kbps 7, and 175MB online file storage Free McAfee Security, free streaming audio through Rhapsody Roughly 25 states
Charter HSI $54.95 / $44.95 5 Mbps / 512 Kbps 10, 1G storage limit per box F-Secure Security, Parental control, 20MB personal webpage
Charter HSI Plus $59.95 / $49.95 10 Mbps / 1 Mbps 10, 1G storage limit per box F-Secure Security, Parental control, 20MB personal webpage
Charter HSI Max $79.95 / $69.95 16 Mbps / 2 Mbps 10, 1G storage limit per box Protection, 24/7 free technical support, no modem fees
Time Warner Road Runner Basic $29.95 1.5 Mbps / 384 Kbps 3 Protection, 24/7 free technical support, no modem fees 31 States
Time Warner Road Runner Standard $44.95 10 Mbps / 1 Mbps 10 Protection, 24/7 free technical support, no modem fees 31 States
Time Warner Road Runner Turbo $59.90 (Currently on a $39.90 1-year promotion) 15 Mbps / 2 Mbps 25 Protection, 24/7 free technical support, no modem fees 31 States
Cox Economy $16.99 768 Kbps 7 McAfee Security, 70MB of personal WebSpace 15 States
Cox Value $26.99 1.5 Mbps 7 McAfee Security, 70MB of personal WebSpace 15 States
Cox Preferred $41.99 (currently on a $25.95 6-month promotion) 10 Mbps / 2 Mbps 7 McAfee Security, 70MB of personal WebSpace 15 States
Cox Premier $51.99 (currently on a $39.95 6-month promotion) 20 Mbps / 2 Mbps 7 McAfee Security, 70MB of personal WebSpace 15 States

DSL
Speed-wise, DSL sits somewhere between fast dial-up and cable broadband. The cost for DSL service is usually a little cheaper than cable as well, though companies will offer promotional rates and waived fees from time-to time, just as with any other service.

Package Name Cost per Month Speed Down / Up Addresses / Storage Extras Availability
Verizon High- Speed Internet Starter $19.99 (first month free) 768 Kbps / 128 Kbps 9 10 MB for personal web page, 24/7 live technical support 25 states
Verizon High- Speed Internet Power $29.99 (first month free) 3.0 Mbps / 368 Kbps 9 10 MB for personal web page, 24/7 live technical support 25 states
Verizon High- Speed Internet 7.0 Mbps DSL $39.99 7.0 Mbps 9, 4GB storage Verizon Internet Security Suite 12 States
AT&T Basic DSL $19.95 768 Kbps/ 384 Kbps 11 All-in-one Protection Suite, Webbased email
AT&T Express DSL $25.00 1.5 Mbps / 384 Kbps 11 All-in-one Protection Suite, Webbased email
AT&T Pro DSL $30.00 3.0 Mbps / 512 Kbps 11 All-in-one Protection Suite, Webbased email
AT&T Elite DSL $35.00 6.0 Mbps / 768 Kbps 11 All-in-one Protection Suite, Webbased email
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Ben Hardy - Contributing Writer
Between watching re-runs of the The Jetsons and convincing his Insteon and Z-Wave controls to get along, Ben Hardy is immersed in the world of home automation, home control, and home networking.

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