Now that you know more about internet connection types and speed, it is time to choose which ISP is best for you. Coverage areas, connection types, speed, cost, uses and contracts are all factors you should consider when choosing a provider for your business.
Before you can even start to consider which service provider to go with, you have to get a better understanding of what your options really are. The clear majority of ISPs do not operate everywhere. In the United States, many providers only offer their services in select states. For example, Comcast's small business high speed internet is only available in 39 states, while AT&T's small business internet is only available in 11 states.
Even if the provider operates in your state, it doesn't mean their high-speed internet is available in your community. Whether it is for DSL, cable or fiber connections, tremendous amounts of cabling and wiring is needed. If those wires haven't been connected to your community, you can't use that service provider.
You have several options to determine which providers operate in your area. One option is to go to each ISP's webpage. They all have a link where you can put your address in to see if they have service for you. If they do, you are usually shown the various service plans they offer in your community. If you don't want to spend the time going to each service provider's website, there are a few other unaffiliated websites that can show you which service providers operate in your state and city. Some allow you to search a map, while others have you input your zip code and provide you with detailed plan offerings.
Once you know the providers in your area, you can start comparing and contrasting the service plans they offer. The biggest difference, besides price, in these plans is speed. For small businesses, most internet service providers offer several plans with a range of speeds, from as low as 1 Mbps to as much as 1 Gbps.
To determine how much speed your business needs, first consider how many employees you have. From there, you need to figure out how many of those people will be using the internet at the same time. Does your business operate a traditional 9-to-5 schedule with everyone working at the same time, or do you have different shifts that spreads out when people will be online?
You also have to consider how your business uses the internet. Do you have a lot of cloud-hosted services, like email, file sharing, and VoIP telephone service? The more you use, the more bandwidth and speed you are going to need.
According to Comcast, very small businesses with just a couple of employees who don't use many cloud-hosted services can get by with 25 Mbps, while businesses with 10 employees who have significant online activity, large file sharing needs and host websites and back servers are better suited for speeds of at least 150 Mbps. VoIP phone service, online meetings, cloud back up or payment processing will all add to your internet speed needs.
In the end, there is no exact science to determine exactly how much internet speed your business requires. But, if you study your internet uses and the type of speed each requires and then factor in how many employees will be using each of those services simultaneously, you will have better idea of how much you need.
Service plans and contracts
Another factor to consider when choosing an ISP is the type of service plan and contract you want. The price for your internet service will be determined by a few factors, including how much speed your business needs, how long of a contract you agree to and whether you are bundling your internet service with any other services the provider offers.
The most expensive option is to get standalone internet service with no contract. Signing a longer-term contract will reduce the price. Prices, on a per service basis, will also drop when multiple offerings are bundled together.
However, before you sign any contract you should be reading all the details to make sure you understand your obligation. What are the cancellation fees if you terminate the contract early? Are there any price increases that are built in over time? What happens when the contract expires? Are you on a month-to-month plan where prices can increase at any time? Do you need to sign a new contract when your contract expires? These are all questions you should ask before you sign a contract.