"A single person downloading some files and maybe watching YouTube clips might be able to get away with 768 kbps," said Doug Williams, an analyst with JupiterResearch. "But if there are three people in the house on the line at the same time, that would take about 3 mbps for the same experience."
STEP 4 It's better with a bundle.
You can usually get a break in price if you buy more than one service from the provider. All these phone and cable companies offer a trinity of home digital services: Internet, TV and telephone, although not all of these are available in all areas.
If you can take advantage of a bundle, it can be one-stop shopping. But in some cases, it may be best to divide up your choices.
The satellite TV companies -- DirecTV Group Inc. and Dish Network Corp. -- do not offer Internet or telephone. But if you're happy with their TV service, you could get your Web access and telephone elsewhere.
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Let the comparison shopping begin.
Now that you know which telephone and cable companies rule your neighborhood and have an idea of the appropriate speed for your household, you can scan the available services.
These charts show the current offerings and prices from phone and cable companies in the area.
Also, because you may have dealt with these companies in the past, think about the customer service experiences you've had with them.
If you hate the service you've been getting from your cable company, for example, it's probably not very different in the Internet arena. Because this is a neighborhood thing, you might ask people you know in the area which company they went with for broadband and how happy they are with their choice.