How to Choose the Right Business Internet Provider
Well, not entirely. If you dig further into the statistics, you will see that there are some vast differences in the performance of the various ISP companies. This means when it comes to choosing an Internet provider there are some other factors you should consider.
Residential vs. business broadband
First, let’s look at the difference between residential and business broadband. If you are working from home, it can be tempting to use your residential broadband for your business, but there are some very distinct differences in what the broadband provides. We are not technical geniuses but in summary, it looks like this:
Employee to speed ratio
Next up, you’ll need to determine how many employees will be using your Internet connection. Typically, the larger the number the higher the connection speed you will need. But again, speed is not the only factor, as you should also consider the contention rate. This is the number of users sharing the same line/data capacity, so you may get a more reliable connection with a provider who offers lower contention rates with lower speeds.
If your small business allows customers to log-in to your Wi-Fi network, then you will also need to think about how that will impact your connection.
Local Internet infrastructure
What type of connection are business Internet providers offering in your area? Cable, fiber or satellite connections are all possible, and the decision you make could be influenced by your geographic location.
Fiber, the fastest of all current connections, might not be accessible in all towns and cities, whereas cable is more widely available. However, for remote users, satellite Internet might be needed.
Internet support is something that no business should be without! Virtually all businesses now need some form of Internet presence, so the support you get from your Internet provider has to be top notch.
In addition to 24/7 telephone support from representatives who can try to fix issues remotely, the Internet provider should also have local engineers who can visit your premises should more intricate help be needed. How about having a dedicated account manager, the ability to raise job tickets online or the opportunity to scale up the service when your business grows?
All of these should be agreed and written into the Service Level Agreement you have with your provider.
Following data security best practices will primarily be you and your employees’ responsibility, but some business Internet providers provide additional security measures. For example, they may backup your data on one of their servers or provide company-wide email anti-virus software.
You should weigh the value of such additional benefits, as many of these security solutions are available for very little money from third-party suppliers.
Reliability is another area that you will need to consider when deciding on a provider. You do not want to lose sales because your e-commerce site is closed due to system failures, or there is an inability to connect with customers because your Internet is down.
Ask local businesses which provider they use. Getting suggestions from them could help you determine which one would be the best fit for your business. Most providers have consistent uptime rates, but you should still research their response time when things do go wrong.
Questions to ask
In addition to the points and questions we have already raised, here is a list of some other questions you should ask potential Internet providers:
- What is the average response time to customer queries?
- How many users share a connection?
- Where are your support services based?
- How is your Internet for small business service different to that of your larger clients?
- How much assistance will be provided in configuring my services?
- Am I tied into using any particular equipment or software?
The final point to consider is what are your Internet needs? Do you need fast upload speeds or the ability to connect to your servers remotely? How much business do you generate via the Internet and is this likely to change in the future?
As with all business decisions, choosing an Internet provider starts with identifying what your business objectives are and how the service will help you achieve them.
The quality of your Internet provider can have a big impact on your business’ ability to meet customer demand. By following this guide, we hope that you’re able to select the right provider for your small business!
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.