Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best ISP for Your Business

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If your business has options, choosing an internet service provider can be difficult. There are at least five core factors that you will want to consider to ensure that you make the best long-term choice.

Service-Level Agreement

A service-level agreement or SLA defines the level of service that you can expect from a business internet service provider. It provides you with guarantees about the other factors that we will discuss, such as customer support, uptime, and performance. Although unusual for business-tier Internet service plans, some ISPs do not offer an SLA at all. Typically, this is a warning to steer clear of that provider. Internet access is integral for modern business. Downtime often means loss of revenue, and your business needs guarantees concerning uptime, response times, outage credits, and so forth. Cost is another important aspect of an SLA. Consider not just the fixed cost but the price per Mbps. This makes it easier to compare various service plans and allows you to assess prices within the expectation that your needs will grow over time.

Customer Support

When all is well with internet service, you will rarely need to engage with the customer support team, but when all is not well, that support team suddenly becomes very important. Businesses should generally seek in-house customer support that is available 24/7/365. Many ISPs like Dish Network Internet assign business clients a support representative. This is someone that you can build a rapport with and ask for by name. It is imperative that you have peace of mind that when anything interferes with your Internet access, your ISP is going to make you a priority and correct the problem as soon as possible.

Uptime

Most SLAs will guarantee at least 99.9% uptime, and it is not unusual to see 99.99% or even 99.999%. But do your research and ensure that the ISP actually delivers on it—at least most of the time. An SLA will often define an outage credit, which is a fee that the ISP pays to your business based on the extent of the outage. These credits are relatively small usually and will typically not cover losses if a business, for instance, loses Internet and is thus not be able to process payments for an extended period. Be mindful that if you have access to fiber, then you should strongly consider it over cable. Cable requires more maintenance and is more prone to storm damage and the like and thus more prone to outages.

Performance

There are three core aspects of ISP performance: speed, bandwidth, and latency. Speed has two components: download speed and upload speed. Make sure that an ISP can deliver the download and upload speed that your business requires and will guarantee it. Be mindful that while fiber provides a symmetrical connection, cable generally does not. That means that your upload speed will be much lower, and you will want to be acutely aware of what the actual guaranteed value is. As for bandwidth, you want to ensure that there is enough that the ISP can deliver on promised speeds during peak usage periods and that there is no need for throttling or data caps. Latency is the delay in Internet communications. How important that is to you depends on how much your business relies on the real-time exchange of data. Fiber provides the best latency, but most cable connections are decent.

Future Growth

One of the more difficult aspects of choosing an ISP for a business is speculating on what your requirements may be down the road. As your business continues to succeed, chances are that you will require more bandwidth and more robust customer support. Ideally, you want to choose an ISP that has the infrastructure in place to support your growth. You should also opt for flexibility. If you need more bandwidth three months from now, your current contract should not be a roadblock to getting it.

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