By Lori Collins
If you're shopping for or plan to build a new home, broadband service needs to be high on your list of needs. And not just any broadband -- great broadband that will accommodate the needs of your family both now and into the future. But how do you know this great broadband is available at your location? It seems like it would be easy, but many prospective homebuyers don't realize that different sources may provide different answers, and how do you know what you can believe?
As an "insider," I'll give you some tips to help make your home search easier.
While some tip articles will tell you to check the federal broadband map published by the FCC, skip this step. The data is wrong in many locations, so don't waste your time.
The first step I recommend is to ask for access to the home's WiFi when touring a home. Run a speed test to check download and upload speeds as well as latency. You can do this by downloading the Speedtest.net app on your Android or iPhone mobile phone. You'll want to see download speeds of at least 10Mbps for a family of two or more, with the more family members, the faster connection required. Add in other factors like working from home or home schooling, and you'll need more speed.
Keep in mind that knowing the existing speed in the home isn't necessarily what is available at that address. A provider may offer faster connection speeds than what the current homeowner purchases. So always check with the provider to see what is available. The homeowner should be able to tell you which provider to contact.
If for some reason you can't run a speedtest, Googling "best broadband at [the home's address]" is another option. You'll get a list of providers. Some will be legit, others won't. Click on their websites and enter the home's address in their search forms, or better yet, give them a call.
While you would think the answer they provide at this point would be accurate, there can be reasons why it isn't: for wired service, be sure to ask if the cable passes directly in front of the home. Make sure it doesn't stop 100 yards down the street, or only serves the publicly owned road and not your private road extending from that public one. For wireless service, go through the same process, and then ask if the company would perform an on-site signal test to make sure service will be available. SonicNet will do this at any location we believe is serviceable with fixed wireless access so that we can say with certainty that we can service the location if the homebuyer selects that home.
For service from a large company, call back to ask the same question. Chances are you will get a different agent, and if the answers are different, that's a red flag to research further.
In all cases where a provider tells you "yes," ask for the confirmed connection speeds available. In some cases, depending on service delivery and distance from the node or tower, only the slower speeds are available. While you may not need the fastest service available, don't expect that the lowest-tiered service will be adequate for a family and at-home workers.
We hear from homeowners who have purchased homes they thought had great broadband service only to learn after the closing that they don't. It's incredibly disheartening and potentially costly to remedy.
Let us know if you are a homebuyer/builder or a real estate agent and need to know whether SonicNet provides service at a particular address. If we can't tell you with certainty over the phone or email, we'll go on site to test for a fixed wireless service area. For our new fiber optic service, we can tell you simply with the address. One advantage of our smaller size is that we know exactly where that fiber runs or the signal is excellent, and you won't get the runaround from us that you might get from the large companies.
We're here to help; just give us a call at 1-888-631-9666 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.