Choosing the right internet service provider (ISP) is essential to the success of your small business.
The right connection can enhance the efforts of your company and make your office more successful with faster speeds while the wrong connection can slow things down. There are 4 things to keep in mind as you choose an internet service provider.
There are a few different types of internet connections available. The needs of your business online will influence which connection will fit your business best.
- DSL: This is usually the cheapest connection type available for businesses, with prices ranging from $30 to $90 per month. Though DSL uses traditional phone lines, you can be on voice calls and transfer data simultaneously. DSL performance is dependent on how far your location is from the provider’s exchange, but speeds can reach 15 mbps for downloads and 1 mbps for uploads, which can support a dozen users or a POS system.
- Cable: Monthly prices for cable range from $60 to over $300. The technology works over standard television cable lines, but it permits concurrent TV viewing and even digital phone use. ISPs may offer cable speeds of 50 to 100 mbps for downloads and 2 to 10 mbps for uploads – enough for a few dozen users. Cable connections share bandwidth among other users in the vicinity, so speeds may be slower during peak business hours.
- Fiber: Fiber-optic connections permit download speeds of 15 to 150 mbps and upload speeds of 5 to 35 mbps. Monthly pricing ranges from $70 to $200. Since fiber connections provide such high bandwidth, it can easily provide TV, phone, and Internet service for 24 users at the same time.
ISPs offer a couple of service levels or plans for each connection type available. The distinguishing factor is the bandwidth speed. Different businesses will have different needs and in order to save money while getting the most from your internet connection, make sure you choose a bandwidth that is up to par.
Of course, you’ll want to keep the cost and the budget of your business in mind as you choose an ISP. The faster the speed, the more equipment and added features you chose to go with, the greater the cost will be. Here are a few numbers you’ll want to look out for.
- Cost of equipment. If your employees need more mobile access due to the use of smartphones or tablets, you’ll need a router which is often an additional expense.
- Installation or activation fees. Some companies provide free installation and activation, but many make waiving the associated fees (ranging from $100 to $150) dependent on your accepting a longer contract, anywhere from one to three years.
- Data usage. Under a data cap, if you exceed the data transfer limit during a billing cycle, your provider may automatically slow your speeds for the remainder of the cycle or apply a surcharge to your bill.
From customer service hours to uptime reliability, there are a number of things you’ll want to look at before choosing a provider for your business. Most ISPs offer a service level agreement (SLA) that lays out the performance and support terms. Compare the SLAs from each provider before signing up for service.
- Up-time guarantees
- Support availability, from hours to channels for outreach
- Guaranteed response-time for support
- Compensation if the ISP fails to meet obligations agreed to in the contract
If you’re in need of a web host, email addresses, or additional features such as security software, make sure you spend time researching what different ISPs offer as a package and what the cost of buying à la carte would be. Before buying an internet service package, make sure you understand what your employees’ needs are and what they’ll be doing online. Take that into account along with the price and customer service as you choose an ISP.
About the Author: Erica Bell is a small business writer who focuses on topics such as how to find an internet service provider and small business financing. She is a web content writer for Business.com.