A Simple Guide to Select Best Internet Service Provider in Pakistan

July 10, 2017
Smartchoice Editorial

With aggressive and targeted advertising for broadband packages all around us and complicated combo offers that include numerous combinations of phone, internet package and broadband package, the choice for an internet service provider (ISP) can become rather intimidating. The internet is all around us but choosing the best internet service can become a complex undertaking. Before we make a commitment, it’s important to know the different types of broadband and we must make sure to ask all the necessary questions so we know exactly what we’re getting from your ISP and what our backup plan is if things don’t work out.

Broadband Subscribers in Pakistan

Source: pta.gov.pk

We live in an era where technological advances have become more rapid than ever before, to keep up with the changing world we have had to change our way of living as well. That change has been brought about by the Internet. Internet in Pakistan has overcome a long journey over the last quarter of a century, there are currently 43 million internet users in Pakistan (as of April 2017), a figure that amounts to nearly 18% of our population.

Types of Home Internet Services Available

There are several different types of internet service that people can get in their homes. Different services are available in different areas, of course.

    • DSL: stands for digital subscriber line and is connected to your house through an already existing telephone landline. Quite often DSL, is the cheapest form of broadband internet packages available for a house with connection speeds of up to 30. The biggest issue with DSL service is that its efficiency depends on distance, the further away the connection is from the service provider, and the slower will be its service. Though DSL internet packages offered in some area prove to be the best internet package available.
    • Cable internet: generally delivered to houses via cable service. The advertised speeds for cable service are higher than for DSL. However as the cable service is being shared with the people in our neighborhood the service speeds tend to be much slower during peak times
    • Satellite internet: relayed to our home via a satellite service. In comparison with the above mentioned it’s generally slower, usually below 20 Mbps. There are very few generally unnoticeable small disruptions in service with the connection being quite steady otherwise
    • Fiber-optic internet: also known as FiOS – is currently available in fewer areas but increasing its network rapidly in Pakistan. Generally, fiber-optic service functions almost identically like DSL service, but it can offer much higher speeds of around 100 Mbps and more in some places and these speeds have the capacity to keep increasing as the technology improves.

Click here to check fiber to home coverage in your area

Prominence and Significance of Internet

The access to this article would not have been possible without the internet and as such our reliance on it continues to grow every day, and we are left to wonder what the world would be like without it. To satisfy our need of being online all day, every day on social media and otherwise, a satisfactory internet connection is essential.

Although social media is a large part of our need for internet, it’s certainly not the only importance. Given the global situation and the security conditions within our country its essential to stay up to date from the traffic conditions to the extreme weathers and also any unforeseen incidents in our cities.

Consumer satisfaction with the broadband services are generally low in Pakistan leaving internet users more confused than ever about how to choose an internet service provider (ISP). Where should we even start from? What should we compare between different ISP’s and how do we decide which one suits us best?

When it comes to choosing a broadband package there are a whole range of criteria to consider and compare broadband packages. Along with the speed and cost we’re going to ponder about download allowances and packages at length. Most of us have almost a laundry list of factors and features to consider before settling on our choice, having a choice is definitely a good thing, but we must understand what we’re buying in order to get the best broadband package possible.

Our goal today is to provide you with a guide that walks you through everything you need to know to choose an ISP for your home broadband connection.

10 Step Guide to Select the Best ISP in Pakistan

1. Identifying the Internet Speed required

It is first important to understand the internet speed or more commonly known as bandwidth actually means so that we select the appropriate level of service. Bandwidth, usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps), is the rate at which we are able to download data from the internet to our computer. The more data intensive activities you do daily the more bandwidth you will require.

The chart given below lists some common internet activities and the subsequent bandwidth required keeping in mind a single user at a time. Since the total bandwidth is divided among all the connected devices in an internet connection, we will need enough bandwidth to ensure all simultaneous activities.

 

If you want … You’ll need about…
General web surfing, email, social media 1 Mbps
Online gaming* 1-3 Mbps
Video conferencing** 1-4 Mbps
Standard-definition video streaming 3-4 Mbps
High-definition video streaming 5-8 Mbps
Frequent large file downloading 10 Mbps and up

 

*A connection with low latency, the time it takes your computer to talk to the game server, is more important than bandwidth for gaming.

**You’ll want at least a 1 Mbps upload speed for quality video conferencing.

2. Working out download allowance

Figuring out exactly what quantity of download allowance we need can be quite taxing. The problem increases if usage patterns are bound to change every month and if multiple users access the internet connection with their multiple devices.

Generally there is a set pattern of download allowance depending on usage habits and the activities undertaken. The table below presents these scenarios for our convenience to get a helpful estimate. If the required download allowance exceeds 40 GB it’s often more prudent to opt for a service that offers unlimited downloads.

What do I use it for? What monthly download limit do I need?
Browsing and email 2GB per month
Browsing and on-demand TV 10-30GB per month
Browsing, on-demand TV and movie and music downloads 40-80GB per month
Browsing, on-demand TV, movie and music downloads and online gaming 40GB or unlimited*

 

3. Options of ISP’s available in the area

Once we have a better understanding of the different types of internet connections and our requirements in terms of both internet speed/bandwidth and our download allowance we need to figure out which service providers serve our area.

In most urban areas we are bound to have the option of internet services via DSL and cable providers along with fiber optics i.e. in some areas of Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore currently. Moving towards the more rural areas we may not get access to a range of these methods, while our options might be limited to cable providers or the phone company providing mobile internet.

Another exploring method is to talk and ask around the community from friends and family about what service they use and how satisfied are they with their service providers. Personal experience from those currently using a service can often lead to great advice.

4. Assessing Local Coverage

When using a wired internet plan like cable broadband or fiber optics broadband, then the network coverage is more or less the same for any location. However, if we opt for a wireless connection, then the network coverage on your locality may be a prime factor in choosing an ISP.  Without good network coverage, no plan will work well.

5. Analyzing the pros and cons of every available option

Internet service via a cable provider will most likely be the fast and also reliable in terms of speeds, though they might have disruptions during peak hours. Internet from mobile phone Company or simply DSL, tends to be little more expensive than cable net while the speeds available might be slower depending on distances.

On the other hand satellite internet can be quite expensive and also slower than the above options. Whereas fiber optic internet service is reliable and the fastest but is a relatively uncommon method. Depending on availability its best to select the service that most closely matches reliability with the desired usage while delivering the desired bandwidth as well.

6. Hardware provision for wireless internet with package

Most ISP’s today provide free wireless routers with their packages which are essential for usage of multiple devices such as laptops, smart phones and gaming consoles, connecting them all to a single line. Although some ISP’s might provide a base model router that does not provide the proper additional support to the internet service and might require us to upgrade it by our own specifications to fully enjoy the capabilities of the internet service.

Most companies might require you to rent a modem or router from them while others might just give this equipment with the package for free. Primarily this is often a hidden cost that companies try hide in their upfront price.

7. Opting for a Bundle or just Internet

Many ISP’s offer bundles or packages with various different combinations of phone, internet and television service. Carefully analyze each individual item in such bundles as companies often try sneak in higher prices in these bulk deal by offering and targeting customers with more services.

It is also important to figure out if you really require a landline connection nowadays and whether there is a need for cable TV package or streaming from the new internet service can do the job. Often in situations bundle services might make more sense but it’s extremely helpful to weigh the value and cost of each service before deciding.

8. Calculating the Pricing of selected packages

ISP’s often lure in customers with introductory deals which might be on a lower price than regular prices. Make sure to question when the price will change back to regular pricing. Remember to always use the “regular” price for comparisons and only use the “introductory” price if you’re breaking a tie between two service providers.

These introductory deals can often lead to great prices but be ready to either pay the regular full price or cancel the current service at the end of the promotional period. It’s an exciting time for internet service industry in Pakistan as increased competition from new providers like Optix, Storm Fiber, and etc. enter the market making it easier for customers or consumers to find better services for better prices.

Price is a very important factor while comparing the best internet providers in Pakistan.

9. Reviewing the Customers Services

With the continuous development of internet services in Pakistan, there is no shortage of issues with mostly all service providers. Any service provider that’s chosen will eventually lead to connection or speed related problems every now and then. It’s prudent to choose a company that provides effective after sales services and customer support, rather technical support as well to sort out these frequent issues.

Ask around within the community along with friends and family and read the service reviews for the ISP’s to help decide which option will be best suited. Search for the best internet service providers in Pakistan and more specifically your area.

10. Exploring the Additional Offers

Some new internet service providers entice customers with add-ons such as antivirus software and firewalls. Internet security should be a priority for everyone. With viruses able to infect computers from simply visiting nefarious sites, opening email attachments and downloading files, it’s imperative that you protect your computer and data against these attacks. While antivirus and spyware protection is a good idea, you don’t need to pay for any additional software as a bundle from your internet service provider.

After going through each step carefully and thoroughly, logic dictates that only the most suitable option for yourself will be left amongst all other possibilities, making your decision much more simple and guaranteeing satisfaction for an extended time frame without the hassle of changing Internet Service Providers frequently.