There should be an image here!I remember way back when I first discovered this new thing called “broadband” Internet. The idea was awesome: Faster connections, near instant Web page load speeds, and the ability to download email to my email client in mere seconds instead of minutes. Those were exciting times. Back in those days, we had a cable company some of you might remember as TCI. Later on, it was bought out by AT&T and then eventually, here in my area, became what we know as Comcast today. I don’t really pretend to understand the specifics, but this is what we here in western Washington found happening in front of our very eyes.

It was also interesting to watch both the adoption of high speed Internet keeping pace with the newly placed importance on ISP speed, as well. Remember, when cable Internet first started becoming popular, most people were thrilled to have something faster than dial-up. Whatever that meant was besides the point. My, how times have changed.

Flash forward into today and we have plenty of ISP choices — venue allowing, of course. Most places have access to cable Internet these days, and others have the secondary choice of DSL, too. And for the super-fortunate lucky enough to have yet a third option to choose from, there are now areas that provide fiber Internet right to the front door. I am thrilled to say I fall into the latter category of access to everything, including fiber (FiOS by Verizon here).

Having had used all types of Internet from various point to point wireless options, DSL and cable, I will go on record in saying that my experiences with fiber based Internet access has nothing short of a stellar experience. Yes, everyone’s mileage will vary. My mom is a big fan of Comcast due to how well she has been treated by its techs and customer service, so everyone has a different take here. But my experience with Verizon has been positive — likely due to me never needing to call for outages or billing issues. Simply put, I never experienced either in the two years I have lived in my home here. The only time my FiOS Internet went out was actually because the cat unplugged the modem. No phone calls needed there!

So where does all of this come from? What do we place the most importance on — speed or customer service? Having been a once long time cable customer and now, a happy fiber based ISP customer, my perspective on ISP value are as follows. I’d just as soon avoid the need to call into for customer service in the first place. Auto-bill my credit card, keep the lines up and running and spare me the “friendly voice” on the other end of the line. I am simply looking for the best overall experience possible.

How can this be expanded on? By taking some additional steps on your own end. Avoid cheap consumer routers. If you must use them, set up the routing and Wi-Fi with different devices. Many ISP provided boxes/modems have routing options built in. Use them, while using your consumer level router for Wi-Fi access. I have found this completely eliminated router reboots and freezing. This proved successful with both DSL and fiber based connections. For cable connections, try modem to router to WAP. Keep the heat in the WAP and not where you are routing local connections throughout your home.

[Photo above by eyesplash Mikul / CC BY-ND 2.0]