Finding Available Providers
Choosing a Provider
Residential Internet Service Technologies: A Reference
|Fiber||Internet is delivered to your home using fiber optic cabling. This is generally the best service available, but is not widely accessible for residential use in the Susquehanna Valley and surrounding areas. Example Provider: Verizon FIOS|
|Cable||Internet is delivered to your home using coaxial cabling. This is the same type of cabling used to deliver "Cable TV", but does not require that you purchase television or phone service from the cable company. This is generally the best option available in the Susquehanna Valley, but is not available in many rural areas. Example Providers: Service Electric, Comcast Xfinity|
|Fixed Wireless||Internet is delivered to your home using a direct wireless connection from a communications tower. This is NOT the same type of wireless technology that powers your cell phone's Internet connection or a "mobile hotspot" from a cellular company like Verizon Wireless or AT&T. A local provider in the Susquehanna Valley offers competitive rates that may be the best option for some rural locations. Example Provider: River Valley Internet|
|ADSL||Internet is delivered to your home using telephone cabling. Also simply called DSL, this tends to be the only option available in some rural locations. It is possible to have an ADSL Internet connection without having a home telephone; simply be sure to let your provider know that you would like to have DSL installed without a home telephone when you sign up for service Example Providers: Verizon DSL, Kinetic by Windstream|
|Satellite||Internet is delivered via satellite to a dish attached to your home. Satellite can be the only option in extremely rural areas and generally tends to be a bit more expensive. Satellite providers typically also have relatively low data caps, meaning that your connection will be slowed significantly once you have used the connection a certain amount per month. For this reason, we don't recommend satellite connections unless you have no other options. Example Providers: HughesNet, ViaSat, VSAT Systems|
Special Mention: Mobile Hotspot or 4G/LTE Modem
Another option you might have heard of or used is the 3G or 4G data connection from your phone (sometimes called "tethering" or "mobile hotspot"). You can also get purpose built mobile hotspot devices like the Verizon "JetPack". Mobile hotspots can be a cost-effective option. Basically, these types of devices are designed to connect Wi-Fi enabled devices like tablets and laptops to the cellular carriers' (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.) networks. One definite advantage of this type of service is that there is minimal setup--no new wires need to be run to your home, and you may not even need to purchase any new hardware.
This type of connection can work well. However, generally speaking, we find it difficult to recommend this as an option for most households (especially those in rural areas) for the following reasons:
- Coverage (and therefore connection speed) is difficult to predict inside buildings.
- Speeds tend to vary more widely depending on the time of day. You may find that this type of service works well in the early morning, but becomes unusable later in the day or in the evening as more people around you are using their cellular connection.
- Cellular providers tend to enforce data caps or significantly slow connection speed after a certain amount of data is used. Satellite connections tend to suffer from similar issues; 4G hotspot connections tend to have even more stringent data caps and/or be even more expensive when data use overages occur (although many providers are providing more generous data allotments during the COVID-19 crisis).
So, if you are already using a mobile hotspot type of service and it is working well for you, we don't recommend making a change. For new service during the COVID-19 crisis, we generally don't recommend mobile hotspot unless you have no other options or need to get up and running very quickly.
What Speed Should I Purchase, and What Should I Expect to Pay?
Internet "speed" will be measured in megabits per second, usually listed as "mbps". You will usually see two different speeds listed: a download and an upload speed. The download speed describes the connection from the Internet to your home, and the upload speed describes the connection from your home to the Internet. Typically you will see significantly higher download than upload speeds on residential connections. Generally speaking, we don't recommend worrying about the upload speed when purchasing; look at the download speed. Providers will typically pair download speeds with a suitable upload speed.
Generally speaking, we recommend looking for download speeds around 25 mbps. This should provide sufficient bandwidth for multiple students to be completing online coursework simultaneously. Also, we typically would not expect most households to need a connection with download speeds greater than 50 mbps. Costs will increase as speeds climb, and most households will see diminishing returns on speeds greater than 50 mbps.
If no providers are able to service your home at 25 mbps, don't fret. A "slower" connection will still allow your student(s) to accomplish their work, though you may find your Internet "slow" if multiple individuals in your household are using it simultaneously. We provide 25 mbps as a general recommendation; this is not at all an absolute requirement.
Regarding cost, you should generally expect to pay between $50 and $100 per month for home Internet service. There may be additional taxes or fees beyond the "sticker price"; be sure to ask about these when you call a service provider to get an idea of the actual costs for their service.
Provider Contact Information
Below we've provided Internet Service Provider contact information for a number of providers in the Susquehanna Valley (this is not an exhaustive list... 🙂). To determine service availability and rates for your area, we recommend calling your desired provider. This is usually the quickest way to get started. When you do call the provider, be sure to mention that you are looking for service for a student to enable them to continue their education during the COVID-19 crisis. The provider may be able to offer you special discounts or expedite installation of your Internet service.
|Provider||Name on FCC Broadband Map||Technology||Phone Number||Website|
|Service Electric||Service Electric Television Inc.||Cable||(800) 522-2389||www.secv.com|
|Comcast (Xfinity)||Comcast Corporation||Cable||(800) 934-6489||xfinity.com|
|River Valley Internet||River Valley Internet LLC||Fixed Wireless||(570) 433-7070||www.rivervalleyinternet.net|
|Windstream/Kinetic by Windstream||Windstream Holdings, Inc.||ADSL||(855) 384-6822||www.windstream.com|
|Verizon Communications (DSL)||Verizon Communications Inc||ADSL||(800) 837-4966||www.verizon.com|
|HughesNet||Hughes Network Systems, LLC||Satellite||(844) 737-2700||www.hughesnet.com|
|ViaSat||ViaSat, Inc.||Satellite||(855) 393-3302||www.viasat.com|
Special Offers and Considerations During the COVID-19 Crisis
Many providers are making special offers or even free service available to students (and even teachers) during the COVID-19 crisis. This isn't an exhaustive list, but gives some of the offers we've been made aware of in our conversations with area providers. Be sure to tell whatever provider you contact that you are looking to get Internet access for your student, and ask if they are able to offer any discounts on their services for students affected by COVID-19 during this time. Many providers are also limiting the number of installations they are doing during this time, but will make exceptions for students during this time. So, be sure to communicate with your provider that you have a student needing Internet access.
Service Electric/Service Electric CableVision
Service Electric is offering free Internet service installation and three months of free Internet service for students and teacher affected by COVID-19. Call (800) 522-2389 and ask about this offer; this is an excellent offer for those in the Sevice Electric service area during this time.
Comcast is offering access to their Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots for free during this time, and also has significantly discounted Internet service options available in certain scenarios. Read more on Comcast's website at: https://corporate.comcast.com/covid-19.
FCC Lifeline Program
The FCC facilitates a program known as "LifeLine" that helps provide funding for Internet services for households that meet certain criteria. Visit https://www.lifelinesupport.org/ for more information.
What about Wi-Fi, wireless routers, etc?
If your Internet service provider can provide or rent a wireless router to you, we recommend you use it. For most, this is the quickest way to get going and the best path to trouble-free use of your Internet service (since your Internet Service provider will test the equipment they provide for compatibility with their service and be able to help you if you have questions).
If your provider doesn't supply you with a Wi-Fi router, you may need to purchase your own. You can buy relatively inexpensive routers locally, at stores like Walmart or Best Buy.
If you have a larger home, you may find that the router from your provider does not provide sufficient coverage for your home. In this situation, we recommend mesh systems like Google Wi-Fi, Eero, or Netgear Orbi. You can also purchase Mesh Wi-Fi systems locally at Walmart or Best Buy; these tend to be more expensive than a basic router.
We are not able to provide in-depth troubleshooting or assistance for home Internet connections or networks. However, you're welcome to send us a message if you have question and we will do our best to assist. Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: We've done our best to provide you with accurate and helpful information. 🙂 This information is provided "as is" in an effort to help students and families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Christ Wesleyan Church/Meadowbrook Christian School do not guarantee the accuracy of any of the above information or take responsibility for the content of any linked content from this article. We aren't able to provide direct technical support for home networks or Internet connections.