The Perfect Internet Plan Doesn't Exist, Or Does It? – PCMag

A new survey says what we all know about the perfect ISP: It would provide fiber at about half the price of most cable connections today.
What is the perfect home-internet plan? A new survey from HighSpeedInternet.com(Opens in a new window) figured it out based on the opinions of 1,002 US adults who have made at least one internet-plan switch in the past three years. Most customers covet a fiber-to-the-home connection running a minimum of 650 megabits per second, costing about $50 a month, preferable a little less.
Why is that the sweet spot? Because the plans most people have now are far too expensive.
The pandemic, of course, played a part. A third of the respondents want faster and cheaper connections, probably because they’re working from home.
The other key takeaway: Plans are utterly baffling to the average consumer.
More than half of survey respondents think they’ve been taken advantage of by an ISP. Imagine any other business where that would be tolerated; it’s the very definition of monopoly privilege.
The people who want labels on their internet pipes might at least get some help. The FCC is pushing to require ISPs to put “nutrition labels” on their broadband: that is, clearly disclose speeds, prices, data caps, and other pertinent information.
When HighSpeedInternet asked people what they thought was the best type of internet connection for home (not mobile, so cellular 5G didn’t factor into this), 48% said fiber. But a quarter went for cable as the best. Satellite internet was at 17%, well ahead of DSL at 11%, likely because of all the hullabaloo about Starlink.
For more, read our roundup of the Fastest ISPs in the United States from 2021; it will be getting a 2022 update in June.
(Turn off your VPN and any streaming video for best results.)
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I’ve been writing about computers, the internet, and technology professionally for 30 years, more than half of that time with PCMag. I arrived for the end of the print era of PC Magazine as a senior writer. I then served for a time as managing editor of business coverage for the website, before settling back into the features team for the last decade. I regularly write features on all tech topics, plus I run several special projects including the Readers’ Choice and Business Choice surveys, and yearly coverage of the Fastest ISPs and Best Gaming ISPs.
I started in tech publishing right out of college writing and editing about hardware and development tools. I migrated to software coverage for families, and I spent several years exclusively writing about the then-burgeoning technology called Wi-Fi. I was previously on the founding staff of several magazines like Windows Sources, FamilyPC, and Access Internet Magazine. All of which are now defunct, and it’s not my fault. I have freelanced for publications as diverse (and also now dead) as Sony Style, PlayBoy.com, and Flux. I got my degree at Ithaca College in, of all things, Television/Radio. But I minored in Writing so I’d have a future.
In my long-lost free time, I wrote some novels, a couple of which are not just on my hard drive: BETA TEST (“an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale” according to Publishers’ Weekly) and a YA book called KALI: THE GHOSTING OF SEPULCHER BAY. Go get them on Kindle.
I work from my home in Ithaca, NY, and did it long before pandemics made it cool.
Broadband internet service providers (ISPs)
Surveys and chart creation
iOS and Windows tips and troubleshooting
Free software
Baby monitors
YouTube downloads
Microsoft Word and Excel
Streaming entertainment
Virtual assistants
Media appearances
Whatever you throw at me
I use an iPhone XS hourly and an iPad Air infrequently (but I’m in the market for an Android tablet). I also have a now-ancient Xbox One, a large Asus Chromebook, and several Windows machines including a work-issued Lenovo ThinkPad. I talk to Alexa and Siri all day long because everyone needs friends. I do the majority of my computing on a 15-inch gaming laptop from Razer attached to an ergonomic Microsoft keyboard and a GPU to run a multi-monitor setup—I overdid it on the power needed to simply work from home.
I’m most at home in Microsoft Word after decades of writing there, including my novels. But I’m finding the things that make it helpful to writers are found more and more in services like Google Docs using tools like Grammarly. I use Google’s Chrome browser due to an addiction to several extensions I think I can’t live without, but probably could. I use Excel extensively on data-intensive stories, but for chart creation, we’ve switched over entirely to using Infogram.com for interactive features that are hard to find elsewhere. I do a lot of graphics work for my stories, but limit myself to the free and amazing Paint.NET software to edit them.
I’m a firm evangelist for using the cloud for backup and synch of files; I’m primarily using Dropbox which has never failed me, but also have redundant setups on Microsoft OneDrive, plus extra picture backups on Amazon Photos and iCloud. Why take chances? For entertainment, mine is a streaming-only household—my kid has never seen network TV and barely heard commercial radio, thanks to Roku and Amazon Music. The house is peppered with smart speakers from Amazon and Google for instant gratification and control of smart home devices like multiple Wyze cameras and Nest Protect smoke detectors. I’ve got accounts on all the major social networks to my horror. Even Pinterest, which I don’t understand at all. I have a robot vacuum for each floor of the house.
My first computer: the Laser 128, an Apple II compatible clone with an integrated keyboard, matched with an eye-straining monochrome green monitor. I used it to type papers in college for other people for money…until I discovered the Mac SE in the computer room that changed my life. My first cellphone was a Samsung Uproar—the silver one with the built-in MP3 player from the Napster days (the pre-iPod era).
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