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The topic of determining the premier, and perhaps the most cost-effective, Internet service provider in the Tift County area frequently arises within the Tifton Talks Facebook group. As someone experienced in cable broadband and IT, I’ve compiled this piece in hopes of addressing these inquiries to the best of my knowledge and background, shedding light on the available providers in the region.

Clarifying “Internet”

First and foremost, it’s crucial to distinguish between “Internet” and “WiFi” to avoid confusion. While many inquire about the best WiFi, it’s essential to understand that WiFi is not synonymous with the Internet.

WiFi is a wireless technology facilitating connectivity between devices within a specific area, allowing access to the Internet among other functions. On the other hand, the Internet refers to the global computer network providing various information and communication facilities via interconnected networks.

Understanding Delivery Technologies

Different providers utilize various technologies to deliver Internet connectivity, with fiber optics being considered the most advanced and efficient method.

Fiber optic cable consists of thin, flexible fibers with a glass core, enabling the transmission of light signals with minimal loss of strength.

Initially, cable broadband providers, such as CityNet, employed Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial (HFC) systems, combining fiber optics and coaxial cable for transmission. While HFC systems remain prevalent, newer installations and upgrades increasingly deploy fiber optic cables directly to homes, offering superior performance and reliability.

Internet Providers in Tifton and Tift County

Presently, three major Internet service providers serve the area: TruVista, Mediacom, and Clearwave Fiber.

TruVista predominantly relies on HFC systems, with recent expansions incorporating Fiber to the Home (FTTH) or RF Over Glass (RFOG) technology in select areas, enhancing service quality and reliability. They have started deploying fiber as they expand their service area. However, TruVista’s pricing structure may be perceived as less competitive compared to other providers. For example, they service my home via RFOG but I only have two options available. With the equipment fee and no managed WiFi, it’s $85 per month.

Mediacom, primarily utilizing HFC technology for residential users, offers reliable Internet with speeds reaching up to 1 Gigabyte per second. While their pricing may initially appear competitive, it’s worth noting the potential for increased costs over time, as well as data caps on certain plans. For example, 1Gig/50Mbps starts at $54.99 per month for 1 year but goes to $114.99 with a data cap of 3000 GB.

Clearwave Fiber, formerly known as Hargray Fiber, stands out for its fiber optic connectivity, symmetrical speeds (equal upload and download speeds), and affordability. They also offer a comprehensive whole-home WiFi solution, which includes their Wall-to-Wall WiFi feature for an additional $10 per month. This enhancement amplifies WiFi signals across every corner of your residence, ensuring unmatched quality and reliability. Moreover, it provides an extra Ethernet port for direct connections to various devices, including streaming devices, home computers, laptops, and gaming systems.* As an IT professional, I generally prefer to avoid utilizing a provider’s WiFi equipment and service. However, if you’re seeking a more hands-off approach, it’s a viable option to consider. Although they offer Internet exclusively to residential customers (they provide Internet and telephone services for businesses), Clearwave’s service is highly regarded for its reliability and value proposition if they are available in your area.

*This information was provided by Clearwave Fiber via email.

Other Options

If your residence falls within the service areas of any of the three aforementioned options, it’s advisable to choose one of them over satellite Internet. Satellite Internet generally comprises two types: older technology with slow speeds and limited data caps, exemplified by HughesNet.

Newer technology such as Starlink, however, offers a superior overall experience between the two. Despite its higher initial equipment costs, ranging from $600 to $900, and monthly fees starting at $120 for unlimited data, it delivers speeds ranging from 24 Mbps to 220 Mbps. Details of their plans can be found here.

Your Choice

In the end, the selection of a provider hinges on personal preferences, financial considerations, and specific requirements. For individuals valuing speed, dependability, and cost-effectiveness, Clearwave Fiber stands out as an appealing choice.

If additional services like cable television or telephone are desired, TruVista and Mediacom are the sole options among the three providers offering such amenities to residential clients. From my perspective, opting for Internet service from one of the three and complementing it with a streaming service like YouTubeTV, Hulu TV, or Sling TV would be a prudent choice.

Updated 2/24/204: Information provided by Clearwave Fiber concerning their WiFi offering.

By Donovan Adkisson

Editor in Chief of Tifton Talks | Managing Director of Tifton Media Works, LLC

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4 months ago

WISPerNet Inc is an expanding ISP in Tifton. Specializing in fixed wireless and FTTX. WISPerNet is a personalized ISP experience expanding its territory based on customer inquiry and demand. If there is an area lacking or limited (i.e. slow bandwidth, data limits, or even priced too high) fiber is brought in and then tailored to the customers. Gamers have pre cached servers, streamers have a direct port to Netflix, amazon, Hulu, web browsing is even on a local DNS server, and businesses receive their own firewall rules and virtual networks for their specific uses.

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