December 22nd, 2020 [UPDATED]
Originally Published May 31st, 2019
How do you choose the best business Internet Service Provider?
With the proliferation of cloud services, and day-to-day business operations becoming increasingly reliant on the Internet, choosing the right business Internet Service Provider (ISP) is more important than ever. Businesses located in markets with many broadband providers, such as in Los Angeles or Orange County, have plenty of options. We’ve prepared a guide to help you find the right provider for your needs.
Understanding the business Internet options available to you upfront can help you get the most from our guide and land on the right ISP. Practical evaluation starts with the type of Internet service itself, which can inform your ISP selection.
Types of Internet Connections for Business
- Cable Internet – Cable is a widely available Internet service that uses coaxial cable lines (the same that deliver cable TV) to provide a broadband Internet connection to your business.
- Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Internet – DSL is another widely available Internet connection because it uses standard phone lines to deliver broadband access.
- Fixed Wireless Internet – Fixed Wireless Internet delivers broadband access using a tower, antenna, and an express line of sight (LoS), and a fiber-optic backbone. Towers broadcast a wireless signal (via radio waves) to the antenna at the business location.
- Fiber Optic Internet – Fiber service connections use fiber optic cables that run directly from the ISP to the business location.
- Satellite Internet – Satellite delivers broadband access via an Internet signal to a satellite in space that’s passed to a dish at the business location.
These Internet options vary by availability, performance, reliability and cost. Evaluating your business needs on these criteria is vital to selecting the right Internet service for your business.
5 Factors for Choosing Your Next ISP
One reliable way to vet a new provider is through reputation research. Whether this consists of reading through online reviews posted on Yelp or Google, or speaking directly with neighboring businesses, understanding an ISP’s reputation is a sound method of narrowing your options.
TIP: Many providers offer both residential and business services, which have different needs and expectations for uptime, quality-of-service (QoS), and more. Be conscious of the type of customer when evaluating reviews.
2. Service Level Agreements (SLA)
A service-level agreement (SLA) is a contractual commitment between an Internet service provider and a customer. An ISP’s SLA should provide guaranteed service metrics such as uptime, latency, jitter, packet loss, and response/repair time. For example, GeoLinks’ SLA offers the following service targets:
- Response Priority: Critical: 4hrs or less
- Network Quality of Service
- Network Availability: Target of at least 99.999% uptime
- Round Trip Latency Under 40ms
- Jitter under 10ms
- Packet loss target < 0.1%
Note that some Internet providers don’t offer guaranteed service levels at all. In fact, a variety of providers avoid service-level commitments altogether with language like this:
“X company does not warrant that the service will be uninterrupted or error-free nor make any warranty as to the results obtained from the use of the service. X company does not guarantee connectivity at any time, for any length of time or at any particular speed.”
Make sure you carefully research an ISP’s SLA before sourcing that provider for your services.
3. Customer Support
In an ideal world, you’d never have to engage with your ISP following service installation. That’s simply not the case.
Whether you have billing questions, experience service issues, need technical support, have upgrade inquiries or product add-ons, at some point or another, you’ll need to engage with your ISP’s customer support team. Research the quality of support the company offers before signing up.
Giant ISPs make you sit through automated phone menus, place you on lengthy holds, and may eventually transfer you to a contracted party outside of the U.S. You can do better—even from companies with cutting-edge technology. GeoLinks, for example, offers 24/7 in-house customer support, and customers can even ask for support reps by name.
And don’t overlook responsiveness. If your business does experience a technical issue, how long does it take your provider to respond and address the problem? Time is money, so whether it’s hours wasted on hold or weeks waiting on a repair, how your ISP handles customer relations directly affects your company’s line.
4. Agility and Flexibility
As a business grows and changes, its overall telecom needs will as well. For example, a law firm hiring ten new associates is likely to need a bandwidth upgrade. The scope of services you need may change over time as well, and some providers offer business phone and Internet bundles to streamline telecom – and billing – needs with a single provider.
Some ISPs offer additional services such as VoIP and SD-WAN, while others do not. When selecting your ISP, you need to make sure you explore their entire product suite and service offerings. All of this can become time-consuming and burdensome.
Choosing an aggregator (an ISP that is capable of reselling multiple ISP products and services) such as GeoLinks, ensures that no matter the growth or changes in your business, you can rely on a single provider to upgrade and adapt to your evolving business needs.
5. Bandwidth Availability
If you don’t know how much Internet bandwidth your company needs, check out “Your Guide to Determining Bandwidth Requirements.” Understanding your bandwidth needs is essential to ensuring that you’re sourcing an ISP that can provide the speeds your company needs.
Bandwidth availability may fluctuate from carrier to carrier based on your location and the type of Internet access you are looking for (i.e., Fiber vs. Fixed Wireless vs. DSL, etc.). Furthermore, if it does appear the ISP offers what you are looking for, make sure you understand whether you’d be getting a dedicated or shared circuit, as this factor also will impact the reliability and consistency of speeds.
Is GeoLinks the right ISP for your business?
Chat with one of our in-house experts to see if one of GeoLinks’ business Internet services is right for your business.
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