GeoLinks News Archives – Service Level Agreement

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5 Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best ISP for Your Business

5 Factors to consider when choosing an ISP for your Business - GeoLinks.com

How do you choose the best Internet Service Provider for your business?

With day-to-day business operations becoming increasingly reliant on the Internet, choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP) is more important than ever. For those lucky enough to be in a market privy to a multitude of carriers, such as Los Angeles or Orange County, there are five primary factors to consider when either onboarding with or switching to a new ISP.

1. Reputation

One of the most reliable ways to vet a new telecom provider is by researching their reputation. Whether that be by reading through online reviews posted on Yelp or Google, or talking directly to the neighboring businesses in your area, understanding an ISP’s reputation is one of the most foolproof ways to really know what you’re signing up for.

That being said, make sure you’re being conscientious of what type of customer the reviews are coming from – i.e. are they from residential customers or from other businesses like yourself.

2. Service Level Agreements (SLA)

A service-level agreement (SLA) is a contractual commitment between an Internet Service Provider and a client. An IPS’s SLA should typically outline guaranteed service metrics such as uptime, latency, jitter, packet loss, and response/repair time. For example, GeoLinks’ SLA is fairly straightforward and 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%

On the other hand, some providers don’t offer a guaranteed service level at all. For example, there are a variety of providers who simply state:

“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.”

Therefore, when deciding to onboard or switch to a new Business Internet Service Provider, make sure you carefully research the provider’s SLA so you know what service quality to expect.

5 Factors to consider when choosing an ISP for your Business - GeoLinks.com - Customer Support

3. Customer Support

While in an ideal world businesses would never have to engage with their ISP past service installation, unfortunately, that is just not the case.

Whether a client has billing questions, service issues, needs technical support, has upgrade inquiries or product add-ons, at some point or another, chances are a business will have to engage with an ISP’s customer support team. Therefore, research what type of support the company offers.

A larger carrier, for example, might make you sit through an automated phone menu, place you on a lengthy hold, and eventually transfer you to a contracted employee outside of the U.S. Alternatively, a medium sized ISP, such as GeoLinks, offers 24/7 in-house customer support; customers are even able to ask for customer support reps by name.

Another element to consider is overall responsiveness. If your business does experience a technical issue, how long does it take a provider to respond and address the issue? Time is money, so whether it be hours wasted on hold, or weeks waiting on a repair, how an ISP handles customer relations directly affects its business customer’s bottom line.

4. Agility and Flexibility

As a business grows and changes, its overall telecom needs will as well. For example, if a law firm hires 10 more associates, they will likely need to upgrade their overall bandwidth. Furthermore, if juggling multiple carriers and multiple bills becomes too large of a strain on a company’s accounting apartment, a business may wish to streamline all their telecom needs with a single carrier.

Some ISPs offer additional services such as VoIP and SD-WAN, while others do not. Therefore, when selecting an ISP, make sure to explore their entire product suite and offerings. 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 a business, a single provider will be able to upgrade and adapt to evolving business needs.

5 Factors to consider when choosing an ISP for your Business - GeoLinks.com - Bandwidth

5. Bandwidth Availability

Do you know how much Internet bandwidth your company needs? If not, check out “Your Guide to Determining Bandwidth Requirements.

While it may seem obvious, when choosing an ISP, it’s necessary to ensure they can provide the speeds your company needs. Based on your location, and the type of Internet access you are looking for (i.e. Fiber vs Fixed Wireless vs DSL etc.) bandwidth availability may fluctuate from carrier to carrier. Furthermore, if it does appear the ISP offers what you are looking for, make sure you understand if it is a dedicated or shared circuit, as this too will impact the reliability and consistency of speeds.

Feeling overwhelmed? If you’re struggling to decide which ISP is the best for your business, consider contracting an IT consultant. Typically vendor agnostic, IT consultants are able to evaluate all the carriers available in your area, evaluate the above criteria, and present a business with its best option.

Curious if GeoLinks is the right ISP for your business? Call and talk to a Client Consultant today!

How Do I Know When it’s Time to Upgrade to a Business Internet Plan?


How Do I Know When it’s Time to Upgrade to a Business Internet Plan?

How to identify the signs that your company may need to upgrade to Dedicated Business Internet

Deciding when to upgrade to a Dedicated Business Internet plan is a key decision in any company’s growth. When your company’s Internet connection slows down, or worse, goes offline, it can cost you lost sales, harm your reputation, and cause operational delays. For example, when your business upgrades to a new CRM, or grows an in-house team adding new devices to your network, it’s not a given that current bandwidth and existing infrastructure are equipped to support the transition. Thus, it’s important to understand the network requirements your business needs to operate. Specifically, it’s imperative to realize when it’s time for your company to upgrade to a Dedicated Business Internet plan.

What is Business Internet?

When you upgrade to “Dedicated Business Internet”, you’re moving to a dedicated Internet connection. Unlike shared Internet circuits, a dedicated circuit provides private Internet access to a single location. This means bandwidth is delivered and accessible exclusively to the circuit owner guaranteeing they receive the bandwidth they sign up for. Keep in mind that upgrading may require switching telecom providers.

While shared Internet circuits may be adequate for residential or small business use, as businesses grow, the cost of downtime and inefficiency inherent in shared solutions becomes prohibitive. Research shows that companies on average experience 87 hours of downtime each year. This equates to an average cost of $42,000 lost per hour, for a total cost of over $3M/year. As multiple devices proliferate and companies come to rely on their employees’ ability to communicate and facilitate online transactions, (such as collecting payment) the impact and cost of slow or unreliable Internet access grows exponentially.

Benefits of Dedicated Business Internet

Dedicated Business Internet offers many benefits to companies that need more reliable connectivity.

  • Guaranteed Bandwidth
    When you don’t share your circuit with other companies, you know you will get the download and upload speeds promised. Not sure how much bandwidth your business needs? Learn “How to Determine the Amount of Bandwidth Your Company Needs”.
  • Faster Throughput
    Dedicated Business Internet gives access to to low-traffic backbones so connectivity is fast from origin to destination. If Internet access is like getting on the freeway, then Business Internet users get both faster onramps and a pass to the carpool lane because their Internet traffic is routed onto low-traffic backbone circuits that experience fewer delays.
  • Matched Upload and Download Speeds
    Unlike shared circuits which typically have inconsistent download than upload speeds, Dedicated Business Internet connections offer packages with guaranteed symmetrical upload and download speeds. This becomes useful for businesses that require robust file transfers, online streaming, and video conferencing.

Dedicated Business Internet Service Level Agreements (SLA)

Speed and performance for a Dedicated Business Internet connection are guaranteed with very specific, enforceable Service Level Agreements (SLA). Shared Circuit SLA’s typically claim to make their “best effort” to provide contracted services, without any recourse if the circuit gets crowded and performance drops. Dedicated Business Internet SLA’s list specific deliverables for service. As an example, here is the guarantees that come with GeoLinks’ Business Internet SLA:

  • 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%

Should You Get Dedicated Business Internet?

Now that you know the benefits of moving to a Dedicated Business Internet circuit, how do you determine whether or not it’s time to upgrade. One of the first questions to ask is whether you are experiencing network problems on your current shared circuit. Here are a few examples of businesses that would typically require Dedicated Business Internet:

  • Hotels where broadband service is part of their offering to guests.
  • Medical practices where reliable communications and data access can literally be a matter of life and death. They may also be subject to regulation requiring them to maintain reliable connectivity.
  • Real estate offices and banks, both of which handle large volumes of electronic transactions and often transfer large files in bulk to support purchases or financial arrangements.
  • Restaurants or retail establishments with POS systems. If their Internet goes down, so does their POS system. This prevents them from collecting debit or credit payments.

If you’re currently experiencing any of the network issues mentioned above, or are in a business where reliable internet is essential to your day-to-day operations, then it’s time to seriously consider upgrading to Dedicated Business Internet. Still not sure if the benefits outweigh the hard cost? Calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) of upgrading.

How to Calculate the ROI of Dedicated Business Internet

The basic formula for ROI in any business is net gain/cost. Choose a time frame as the basis – with larger IT upgrades like this you’ll want to consider at least a year, if not more. Compare the costs associated with keeping your current shared solution. Then compare the costs or cost savings of upgrading. Keep in mind that some costs are hard, while others are less tangible.

Here are a few examples of hard costs and cost savings to consider:

Hard Costs:

  • Installation and hardware fees
  • Monthly recurring ISP charges

Cost Savings:

  • Improved internal and external communications
  • More reliable video conferencing, VoIP, and web access
  • Reduced risk of employee and systems downtime
  • Increased capacity for growth and expansion
  • How much would it cost you if your internet went down altogether for 1 hour? 1 day? 1 week? What would you pay for peace of mind?

Once you have costs and benefits of both scenarios, you can compare ROIs and also look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The final decision whether to upgrade to Dedicated Business Internet should take into account the tangible business benefits, ROI, and TCO as well as the harder to quantify benefits such as improving your business infrastructure.

Let’s Recap

Do your day-to-day business operations require reliable Internet access? If yes, it’s time to upgrade. Have you recently changed your company’s internal systems, such as onboarding a more robust CRM? It’s time to upgrade. Are you expanding your team or increasing the number of devices (such as computers) connected to your network? It’s time to upgrade. All in all, does it give you peace of mind to have a contractual SLA that you can rely on? It is time to upgrade.

To learn more about GeoLinks’ Business Internet Plans, chat with one of our team members today.