Today in this technology and Internet-savvy world, you may find out that you will have multiple choices of Internet Access Providers to choose from. As technology and competition evolve, it is essential to stay up to date with options and trends. This may be a critical decision for businesses because today, many companies depend on internet access for communications. It can be quite a challenge when deciding which Internet provider offers the best Internet service needed for your operations.
Although you can easily shop around online, how do you know for sure you are choosing the right Internet service provider? Do they have a professional technical support team? Will they respond promptly when problems arise with your Internet service? These are essential questions to ask when searching for local Internet service. If you’re searching for the right Internet service provider, here are some critical points to consider.
Step 1 – Find out who the local Providers are.
You can find a local internet service provider for your home or business by asking family members, neighbors, or by searching online. The key is finding a reliable service provider. If you search online, you can browse through your local Internet provider’s website and see what type of Internet service they offer. If they are local, they are more likely to have an increase in support personnel and will more likely respond to issues if they arise much quicker.
Step 2 – Determine their Network Access Ability.
Before choosing an Internet provider, make sure you ask about their Network Access Ability. Do they offer Cable, DSL, T1, T3, Ethernet, or Fiber Optics? Here’s a brief description of each.
Cable or DSL: A high-speed Internet service that operates over telephone lines or cable service. However, typically lower cost and reasonable download speeds are more suited towards residential customers who mainly download and can be limiting when trying to upload. Upload speeds or sending information will be limited depending on the connection method and distance from the ISP’s POP (point of presence). DSL is distance sensitive, so the further away from the ISP’s POP, the slower the DSL speed. Cable and DSL are not available in all areas, and certain areas can have patchy rates and performance, so you should ask around for recommendations. Cable & DSL require basic configuration and typically includes hardware/routers, which can also be purchased from $50 or more at a local computer store. Cable & DSL commonly come with a dynamic IP (not static), so if you require a static IP, you may be required to purchase them. At this time, DSL & Cable do not carry guarantees, so you have to cross your fingers with the performance and uptime.
T1: Commonly used by USA businesses. T1 provides firms with a very dependable phone line and/or Internet connection. It is a dedicated connection between your business and the ISP’s nearest POP (point of presence) and is not shared by anyone else. It carries much faster up/down speeds starting at 1.544Mbps and can be bonded with other T1s to provide more uptime with rates up to 10Mbps or if voice 24 trunks for each T1. One significant benefit of T1 is that it carries a guaranteed quality, upload, and download speed through an SLA (Service Level Agreement). Equipment is typically provided. However, you should confirm this because of the higher throughput speeds, T1 requires higher performing routers and configuration, and T1 routers run from $800+. T1 includes static IPs; however, some providers charge for additional static IPs, factoring this into the cost of the T1 when making a decision. T1 is available in all areas, and prices run from $250-$800+ for monthly service on each T1 depending on the circuit speed and geographical location.
T3: Commonly used by USA businesses. T1 provides firms with a very dependable phone line and/or Internet connection. It is a dedicated connection between your business and the ISP’s nearest POP (point of presence) and is not shared by anyone else. It carries much faster up/down speeds starting at 1.544Mbps and can be bonded with other T1s to provide more uptime with rates up to 10Mbps or if voice 24 trunks for each T1. One significant benefit of T1 is that it carries a guaranteed quality, upload, and download speed through an SLA (Service Level Agreement). Equipment is typically provided. However, you should confirm this because of the higher throughput speeds. T1 requires higher performing routers and configuration and T1 routers run from $800+. T1 includes static IPs; however, some providers charge for additional static IPs, factoring this into the cost of the T1 when making a decision. T1 is available in all areas, and prices run from $250-$800+ for monthly service on each T1 depending on the circuit speed and geographical location.
Ethernet Internet: This type of network access utilizes Ethernet LAN cards off the ISP’s POP switch. The cards have sped up to 100 Mbps. However, the speed is determined by network type and distance from the ISP’s Ethernet equipment. Rates for businesses start at 3Mbps up to 100Mbps. The fastest Ethernet reaches Gbps. In speed, one Gbps is equal to 1000 Mbps. Ethernet Internet is not available in all areas as it requires a central office/POP to be Ethernet-equipped. Like T1 & T3, Ethernet guarantees quality, upload, and download performance through an SLA (Service Level Agreement) and includes static IPs. Providers may charge for additional static IPs and hardware. You should consult your provider as the hardware as this can be very costly from $5000+ due to the higher throughput and performance requirements. Costs for Ethernet Internet run from $400 for monthly service and up depending on speed, delivery type (EOC, Cat5, Cat6, and Fiber), and distance from the ISP’s equipment.
Fiber Optic: This consists of plastic or glass threads to transmit information (data). Information is transmitted digitally and has a much higher bandwidth capacity which is virtually unlimited compared to metal cables. Fiber optics uses newer technology and must be installed by specialist technicians as bad connections will result in dropped packets (packet loss) and slower bandwidth speeds due to installation errors. Fiber Optics is not available in all areas as it requires costly fiber installations, permits, and equipment. Like T1 & T3 & Ethernet, Fiber guarantees quality, upload, and download performance through an SLA (Service Level Agreement) and includes static IPs. Providers may charge for additional static IPs and hardware. You should consult your provider as the hardware as this can be very costly from $10000+ due to the higher throughput and performance requirements. Costs for business Fiber Internet run from $100+ for monthly service and up depending on speed, carrier, and distance from providers POP.
Step 3 – Check the Provider’s SLAs (Service Level Agreements).
A quality Internet Service Provider should provide customers with a high level of performance and reliability. Suppose you are looking for a reliable and fast internet connection. In that case, it is a good idea to make it mandatory to require an SLA and avoid any company that does not offer an industry-standard SLA because you could run the risk of experiencing slow speeds and frequent outages. These day’s businesses rely heavily on the Internet for productivity and communications to sustain the company and having downtime can cost you money.
Step 4 – Check to See If They Provide Online Tools.
As more people work and use the Internet, companies are now utilizing online tools to measure internet performance. Any legitimate Internet provider will use the Internet to help the consumer communicate with the provider and offer technology to allow the user receive everything they can out of the service they provide. Standard online tools are performance monitoring, web statistics, network ping systems, online ticketing systems, and other network or web statistics.
Step 5 – Beware of Low Pricing.
Often times many upstart Internet service providers will offer lower pricing than your local Internet provider. Unfortunately, many of these fly-by-night competitors have folded due to bad business practices. Remember, just because an Internet provider advertises the lowest prices doesn’t mean they provide the best value. Many people have been swindled over short-term bargains. A few months down the line, the unfortunate consumer discovers that their Internet service actually cost them more money. It is better to choose a provider who has been in business for 5+ years, has a good and diverse list of customers, and offers competitive rates. At least you’re guaranteed quality Internet service.
Step 6 – Check their References.
Verify the Internet provider’s references before making a commitment. A legitimate service provider will have no problem offering their references to new customers. You can take it one step further and check the Better Business Bureau online to see if the company has any unresolved complaints from unsatisfied customers. You can also do a quick Google search of the Internet provider and see any customer complaints or negative reviews posted on the web.
Step 7 – Find out if they Offer Professional Customer Support?
Technical problems with an Internet service happen. Regardless of whether you have DSL, T1, T3, Ethernet, or Fiber Optics, at some point in time, you may be required to contact technical support. An Internet service provider should be able to offer their customers quality technical support for free. In addition, a provider should be able to provide their customers free email accounts as well. Every Internet provider should offer their customers a well-trained team of customer support representatives who are qualified to support the providers’ services.
Step 8 – Find out if they Provide Discounts and Special Promotions?
One benefit of being a new subscriber is that many local Internet access providers offer special promotions and discounts for first-time subscribers. Choose a couple of local Internet providers and compare the services they provide, and see if they match your needs. Then compare their rates before making a final decision.
In conclusion, a company that values their customers values their employees as well. They will provide their employees with proper training to handle customer inquiries in a professional manner. When searching for an Internet access provider, an excellent way to tell if you are choosing the right Internet company is to see if you have a good rapport with the representative when you first contact the company by phone.
The representative should not only be polite, but they should also be able to answer your questions clearly and concisely. A sales team that is only interested in your sale and not willing to answer any of your questions politely and professionally is an Internet service provider you should stay far away from.