Pros and Cons: Five Business Internet Service Providers
To help you find the best internet service provider for your business, we’ve compiled a list of five top options. Once you compare them against your unique business needs, you’ll be able to make an informed decision that saves you time, money, and headaches.
What is A Business ISP?
These days, most businesses depend on the internet to operate smoothly. Therefore, a quality business Internet Service Provider (ISP) is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity.
With a poor ISP, you put your business at risk for lost customers and sales. You also make it easier for your competitors to shine.
For example, imagine you own a local pizza shop that accepts online orders. If your business ISP is unreliable, you may not receive all orders in a timely fashion. This can lead to frustrated customers and a damaged reputation. It may even cause your pizza shop to go out of business.
On the flipside, if you have a reliable ISP and receive customer orders on time, your pizza shop can thrive. You’ll be able to get your customers what they want, when they want it and stand out from your competition. Reliable internet service can allow your staff to increase their productivity and better communicate online with customers and colleagues.
As you can see, it’s important to explore all of the business ISPs out there so you can figure out which one makes the most sense for your organization. After all, the ISP you choose can truly make or break your business.
The Big Five Internet Service Providers For Business
If you do a quick Google search for “business ISPs,” you’ll find that there are countless options out there. However, it’s vital to understand that not all business ISPs are created equal. Some are better than others for various reasons.
In addition, the provider that is ideal for your friend’s business may not be right for your business. Let’s dive deeper into the five best internet service providers:
For over a decade, Comcast Business has been serving small to midsize startups. If you own a small business that values speed and stability and don’t mind spending a little more money, Comcast Business may be a good option.
Although it’s not the most cost-effective provider on the market, it’s reliable and comes with a number of additional features like free professional installation with modem, a 30-day free trial period, Comcast WiFi pro, and static IP addresses.
- Fast Speeds
Compared to other ISPs, Comcast Business offers some of the fastest speeds. You can enjoy 25 mbps to 1,000 mbps with its fiber network.
- Available in Most States
Since Comcast Business serves 39 states and Washington DC and is constantly expanding, it’s one of the most widespread business ISPs out there. Chances are high that they serve your local area.
- Phone Bundle Option
Regardless of which Comcast Business plan you choose, you can add a phone line. If you’d like, you can sync it up to your personal phone so when you get a call on your cell, it’ll be automatically transferred to your office phone.
- Wireless Backup Service:
The wireless backup service is an add-on you can choose if you’d like to be able to retain your ability to be online in the event your internet goes down. After about 30 seconds of your internet being down, a 4G LTE backup will kick in automatically so you won’t lose service.
- Limited Fiber Optic Availability
While Comcast Business does serve most states, its fiber optic options are limited to 29 markets. Therefore, if you want fiber optic internet (the fastest option that exists), it may not be available in your area.
- More Expensive
If you do the math, you’ll discover that Comcast Business plans are a bit pricier than those of its competitors. In the event your business is a startup or short on cash flow, the extra cost may not be worth it.
- Two Year Contracts:
Comcast Business will likely require that you commit to a two year contract with an early cancellation fee. This can be a major drawback if you’re unsure of what your future internet needs may be.
- Poor Customer Service
Unfortunately, Comcast Business falls short in the customer service department. The company has many complaints on the Better Business Bureau as well as negative reviews on various websites.
Verizon FiOs Business
Verizon FiOs Business offers fiber-optic internet in nine states including Washington DC. The provider guarantees working internet connection 99.5 percent of the time. This guarantee can give you the peace of mind of knowing fiber-optic internet will almost always work for your small business.
If your business uses a cloud customer relationship system (CRM) or an online management system (OMS) like Trello or Asana, Verizon FiOs Business may be well worth the investment. It can also be a good idea if you depend on an ecommerce platform such as Shopify.
- Fastest Speeds Out There
If speed is your top priority, you’ll be impressed with Verizon FiOs Business. Its 100 percent fiber-optic network means lightning fast speeds on multiple devices.
- No Annual Contracts
When you opt for a package from Verizon FiOs Business, you don’t have to worry about any annual contracts because month-to-month plans are available. This is great news if you’d like to test it out for a while to make sure it’s a good fit.
- Excellent 24/7 Customer Support:
Time after time, Verizon FiOS Business earns high customer satisfaction ratings. If you’re a business owner who wants faster speeds and efficient support, this is a huge plus. You won’t have to wait days to get your questions answered or issues resolved if you choose a plan with Verizon.
- Bundle Options
If you bundle your internet, phone, and television services with Verizon, you may be able to save some money on your FiOs Business plan.
- Limited Availability
As of March 2020, Verizon FiOs Business only services parts of New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington D.C. If you don’t live in a service area, this ISP isn’t an option for you.
- Three Plans
With Verizon FiOs Business, you can choose from three plans: the Internet 200/200, Internet 400/400, and FiOs Gigabit Connection. Other business ISPs tend to offer more plan options.
- Additional Fees:
Verizon charges its FiOs Business customers extra fees. If you buy a plan from them, you can expect a one time set-up fee as well as a monthly equipment fee. Fortunately, there are occasional promotions that waive the set-up fee so keep your eyes peeled for them.
Due to the fact that Verizon FiOs Business only offers fiber-optic internet, its plans cost more than other business ISP plans.
Frontier Communications offers internet to small businesses across the U.S. it markets its small-business internet to organizations with 20 employees or less.
Therefore, if you have more than 20 employees, you may not fit into its small business segment. While its plans offer a three-year price guarantee, Frontier’s fastest plans are expensive and only available in select areas. If you’d like high-speed internet for your business at an affordable price, Frontier has you covered.
- Premier VoIP Solution
Frontier’s Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution uses the internet rather than telephone lines for calls and other services. You can use it to connect employee phones, make conference calls, and add automation features. Its VoIP solution can help your small business become more collaborative.
- Convenient Features Included
Each Frontier internet plan comes with 24/7 technical support, secure wireless networking capabilities for several devices, and a minimum of eight email accounts, each with 1,000 GB of mail storage.
If you’re on a budget, Frontier’s basic plans may be the way to go as they are very affordable. You can enjoy DSL internet and a no-frill contract.
- Available in Most States
DSL internet from Frontier can be found in rural and suburban markets in 35 states.
- Three-Year Price Guarantee
Frontier’s three-year price lock guarantee means that the monthly cost of your plan will remain the same for three years. This makes it a breeze to budget for your internet expenses.
- Limited FiOs Availability
Frontier FiOS is the fastest internet Frontier offers. Unfortunately, however, it’s only offered in certain areas of California, Texas, Florida, Oregon, Washington, and Indiana. The good news is it has plans to expand its fiber capabilities.
- Two Year Contract for FiOs Plans
If FiOs is available in your area and you choose it, you’ll be locked into a two year contract. This can be an issue if you don’t have a clear idea of your long-term business needs.
- Poor Customer Service
When it comes to customer service, Frontier certainly lags. Compared to other business ISPs, it received poor ratings from customers throughout the country. If dependable customer support is a priority to your business, you may want to look elsewhere.
- Lack of Transparent Pricing
While Frontier does mention pricing details for all of its plans in its terms and conditions, they aren’t very transparent about it. You’ll have to read the fine print to find out about equipment fees, installation fees, taxes, and early termination fees.
AT&T Business offers basic internet plans to small business owners. Its plans can allow you to download large files and offer Wi Fi to your customers and employees. They also make streaming videos and hosting video conferences convenient.
However, if your business has more advanced needs like running a SaaS or cloud computing, AT&T may not be ideal. This is mainly because of its hefty costs for premium plans.
- Budget-Friendly Bare Bones Plans
If you opt for one of its basic plans, you can save a great deal of money with AT&T Business. You may not get the fastest internet but you’ll get to save big and still meet your basic internet needs.
- Unlimited Data Usage and Cloud Storage
AT&T Business won’t charge you extra for using too much data or storing an excessive amount of files. You can enjoy unlimited data usage and cloud storage that many business ISPs don’t offer.
- No Contracts for Premium Plans
With a premium plan that includes fiber-optic internet, you won’t have to sign a contract. You’ll also get a 24-month price guarantee that locks in your price for the next two years.
- 30 Day Free Trial
You can try an AT&T Business plan with absolutely no risk for 30 days. If you’re not satisfied for any reason, you can return the equipment and get reimbursed for your charges.
- Expensive Premium Plans
You’ll spend a ton of money if you choose a premium plan with fiber-optic internet. If speed is of utmost importance to your business, you can get a more affordable fiber-optic plan with another provider.
- Limited Fiber Availability
Fiber-optic internet by AT&T Business isn’t an option in most geographic locations. It may not service the area in which you do business.
- Installation Fee
If you choose a basic plan, you’ll have to pay a one-time $200 installation fee for AT&T to arrive at your business and set everything up. If you have a qualified IT team, you may be able to forgo this fee and install it on your own.
- Basic Plans May Not Suffice
While its basic plans are cost-effective, they may not satisfy your business needs. This is particularly true if you have to connect many devices to your network or run fancy cloud services.
Spectrum Business provides internet plans that are ideal if you own a restaurant or bar or an business with a waiting room. This is because it’s Business TV bundle pairs the 200 Mbps internet plan with very affordable phone and cable TV services.
With this bundle, your employees can make nationwide or international calls at no charge while your customers remain entertained with HD television. Every Spectrum Business plan comes with free technology packages and extra services.
- Affordable High Speed Plans
If you’d like a high speed internet plan without breaking the bank, you’ll love Spectrum Business. Compared to the high speed plans of its competitors, Spectrum’s plans are a great deal.
- Free Tech Upgrades
Spectrum Business is quite generous as it adds a number of useful tech upgrades to each plan at no charge. These free services include 25 custom email addresses, WiFi, a professional website, an internet security solution, and 100 GB to back up your crucial business data.
- Special Deals for Restaurants and Bars
Budget-friendly bundle packages are available for restaurants and bars that need to entertain their customers while they wait for their food and drinks. If your business has a waiting room, you can take advantage of these bundles as well.
- Five Cable Internet Plans
You can choose from Spectrum’s five cable internet plans: Business Internet 60, 100, 200, 300, and 400. Fiber internet plans are also available in select areas.
- No Yearly Contracts
With a Spectrum Business plan, you won’t have to commit to a yearly contract. They can charge you on a month-to-month basis.
- Limited Fiber Availability
Spectrum Business is new to the fiber internet world. Therefore, its fiber plans aren’t yet available in most locations. Depending on where you live, a cable internet plan may be your only option.
- Less Than Stellar Customer Service
Customer service ratings for Spectrum Business aren’t so hot. This can be a serious problem if you want to be able to resolve internet-related issues quickly and efficiently.
- Slow Upload Speeds
If you upload a lot of documents, you may be unimpressed with Spectrum’s upload speeds. Upload speed depends on the plan you choose but speeds are much slower than competitor speeds.
- No Price Guarantee
Since Spectrum Business doesn’t offer a price guarantee, you may face higher prices on your internet plan or bundle down the road.
Things To Look For In Business ISPs
When you shop around for a business ISP, there are certain things you should look for such as:
In a perfect world, every business ISP would service every geographical area. Since this isn’t the case, keep a close eye on the providers that are available in your town or city.
If you live in a rural area, availability is particularly important as many business ISPs don’t offer coverage in rural locales.
- Excellent Customer Service
Unfortunately, you’re bound to experience an internet problem at some point in time. For this reason, it’s important that your business ISP offers exceptional customer service.
If they’re struggling with customer service, you may face downtime that can take a serious toll on your business. Read online reviews and ratings from other business customers to get an idea of the customer service quality of each provider.
Regardless of your business’s industry and the customers you serve, fast internet is likely at the top of your priority list. Slow internet can disrupt productivity and lead to disappointed customers and vendors. Be sure the speed of the internet package you choose is sufficient for your day-to-day operations. Don’t choose a slower connection just to save money if you know your business depends on fast internet.
As you research business ISPs and the various plans at your disposal, you’ll notice a significant price discrepancy. While it may be tempting to select the cheapest plan you find, especially if you’re a startup, doing so can hurt you in the long-run. If you’re low on cash flow, you may want to secure financing to cover the internet and other essential expenses.
Our Last Words
The business ISP you choose can play a vital role in the success of your business. Jot down your top three must-haves in an ISP and search for providers that meet them.
Unless you have an unlimited budget, remember that you may have to make some compromises and agree to a plan that doesn’t meet all of your requirements. As long as your business ISP provider meets most of your business needs, however, you’ll be able to set your organization up for long lasting success.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a business ISP?
A business ISP is an internet service provider that offers internet connectivity to various businesses. There are countless business ISPs in the market.
What are the five largest business ISPs out there?
The five largest business ISPs in the U.S. are Comcast Business, Verizon FiOs Business, Spectrum Business, AT&T Business, and Frontier.
How should I choose a business ISP?
Before you move forward with a business ISP, research all the options available and consider cost, speed, customer service, and availability.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.