Factors to Consider when Selecting an ISP for your Business

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Internet service is internet service, right? You find out who the provider is that offers service in your area, connect it and get rolling. Sounds simple enough, but the fact is – selecting an internet service provider is much more complicated for businesses. Whether you are an existing office looking to upgrade their connection, renew your existing contract or building out a completely new location – there are a few things you should consider when selecting an ISP for your business.

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  1. Type of connection
    There are two primary types of internet service. Standard (also known as High Speed or broadband service) and High Availability service. The first group includes options like cable and DSL and typically offers higher speeds, but lower quality and reliability of service. This option is significantly cheaper in most cases. The High Availability class of services provides a Service Level Agreement for uptime that usually exceeds 99.99% or approximately 2 hours of downtime per year. These connections include options such as T1s (older, less common) and newer Fiber Optic connections (also called Ethernet or Metro E in some markets). The important difference here that you’ll want to take note of is the Service Level Agreement option and how dependent your business is on an internet connection. If your business cannot risk any form of interruption, it’s important that you choose an ISP that can offer a Service Level Agreement guaranteeing uptime.
  2. Speed of your connection
    Calculating your business’ speed requirements can be complicated, but it’s very important to ensure that you have enough speed for everyday use, including peak times (such as large meetings or training evolutions). You don’t want to frustrate users because you’re not paying for enough bandwidth for your office. If your applications are web-based or hosted in the cloud, or you have a VoIP phone system – there is likely higher usage involved and you’ll need to answer these questions to better understand your speed and connection needs to avoid continuity issues for your employees and systems.
  3. Availability and timeframe
    While it would be ideal to have access to High Availability Fiber Optic, not every business has this option. Even the availability of cable and DSL internet can be limited in new construction areas where lines of service have yet to be established. In these cases, it may take up to 6 months for construction and installation of service. Be aware of these caveats and start your search well in advance of your move or new construction project.
  4. Redundancy
    In cases when the need to be continually connected is extreme and you cannot afford even one or two minutes of downtime, you’ll want to secure some level of redundancy. Redundancy is a failover internet connection that switches in the event your main line has gone down. This is more common with standard internet service, but can be important to have even with High Availability services with SLAs if a business cannot afford a moment of downtime. Being aware of the availability is important, but you can consult a professional to help you determine if your business should consider from redundancy.
  5. Cost efficiency
    We’re all slaves to our own bottom line and budget. High Availability service comes with a high price tag and depending on the types of connections and service area – the price can be significant. As an example, I just worked with a client that was quoted one High Availability fiber connection for $1000 per month for 20MB of service. Conversely, two diverse broadband connections (one cable at 100MB and one Broadband Fiber at 50MB) came in at only $400 per month – more speed, better availability for less cost. The service costs from your ISP will vary widely depending upon a number of factors, which is one reason you should always engage a professional to assist you in choosing the connection that is best for your business.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? If you have an office move or construction project coming up and want to make sure you’re 100% prepared, you need to get started now. Reach out to a professional. Managed Services Providers and Consultants have existing relationships with internet service providers and can usually not only secure a better rate, but also ensure that the vendor sticks to the specified timeframe and doesn’t take advantage of a desperate situation.