Choose and ISP

How do I choose an Internet Service Provider to suit my business needs?

Internet Service Provider

 

Sometimes choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP) which is best for your business is a little like looking into a crystal ball.. there are  unknowns and the facts are not always evident.

This provides an unique challenge as it defines the way you do business across the board.  It defines the way your clients and competitors view you and your efficiency is often measured in e-mail response times, website hosting and uptime.  You must make cost comparisons but other factors go beyond the price and determine the quality of service.

There are five main criteria for assessing and measuring your choice of ISP.

  1. The first relates to the speed you need for your type of business. If you buy cheap you will get cheap and your line will not be able to support your demand.  Professional grade service is anything from 4 Mbps to 10 Mbps in South Africa. In the very near future some areas will be getting a whopping 40Mbps but that is still to come. Most business owners have no idea what kind of bandwidth they use and are not sure if they need more than they have or less than they want.  To find out what your connection speed is you can do a free test online.  Speedtest.net is one of these tools which is so useful.  Take a look at the results and assess whether you can increase your productivity using higher speeds.. or whether these increases are not necessary at present. Your connection ratio should be listed on the test and give you an idea of how many connections your line can support or if you need more bandwidth.
  2. The level of service is particularly important for first time users or companies with a high staff turnover where passwords need changing, new accounts need adding , or training will involve questions and needs from a support team.  Strong customer service is always worth the added expense. Unless you are a geek, you are going to need to contact that team sometime… and if the service is efficient and friendly, it makes the world of internet connectivity a better place. In the event that the internet goes down or problems arise, you will benefit greatly from a strong technical support division in your chosen ISP. Many Internet firms provide a control panel where clients and customers can manage their own basic services so keep a look out for that as well.
  3. Bundling of services often saves money and many ISP’s offer deals which include a line and a connection, and sometimes even a router thrown into the deal. Be aware of free services which are often offered at the outset. Sometimes these are genuine offers to attract new clients, but do be aware that you might be obliged to sign a contract which binds you to pay off a products or remain with the company for a period of time.
  4. Every business faces risks online.  Picking an ISP should involve checking on their level of security, and their back up server environment.  The best services will offer most of the following: anti-spam, antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-malware and even backup protection services in case of lost data.  Sometimes these services are charged at an extra fee but that’s not a bad thing if you think about securing your vital information for your business. If you are still using traditional storage systems, consider moving to a cloud storage facility (some are free) for all your business systems.
  5. I know this is boring, but read the terms and conditions before you buy.

The most important question is does this Internet Service Provider give me what I need?  Reliability, professional service, security and price should all be on that list you make to measure your choice.

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