Selecting an Internet Provider

How to choose an Internet Service Provider
An account with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) is necessary if you want to connect your business to the Internet (or even if you want to connect for personal use). There are many companies offering ISP services in the USA – both big and small.

The best thing to do is decide what your business needs for the internet and then shop around the various ISP’s and see what services they offer. Then match your business needs with services offered to obtain the best ISP for your business.

When looking at your business needs consider the following:

  • What type of activities are you going to be doing online? Is it mainly e-mail and web site browsing?

  • Do you require high-speed Internet access? Do you want to access data that requires broadband? Data such as movies, music or graphics? This could mean that you require a service plan where you receive high-speed Internet access (such as ADSL or Cable) but generous download amounts. You don’t want to be paying through the nose for each extra mb (megabyte) that you download.

  • How long will you or your employees be spending on the Internet every day? Do you need unlimited access? If you are hardly online and only use the Internet to check your email then maybe a dial-up connection is sufficient. However, if you require Internet access and you have a few employees, a dial-up connection is going to be far too slow.

  • Do you have your own website? If so, then regardless of whether you are hosting the website yourself or your ISP is, you will need an Internet connection that is faster than what dial-up connections can offer you.

Once you have ascertained what your business Internet needs are, then you can begin looking at what some ISP’s offer in the way of service and plans.

There are a few points that you should look out for when choosing your ISP. They are:

  • Service Plans
    Make sure that you sign up for a plan that is going to suit your needs now and in the future. If your business grows there would probably be a demand for a faster Internet connection, so make sure that your plan can be upgraded, Make sure that your current plan won’t become costly if you start downloading or uploading more internet data than you originally thought.

    For example, if you are locked into a plan where you pay per mb downloaded this could be expensive. A plan that allows you a certain amount of mb download or offers unlimited access to the internet might suit you better. Make sure that you find out about any additional costs, such as installation, extra hardware needed or any ongoing costs. Shop around for these, as there are specials advertised from time to time and more than a few ISP’s in the USA.

  • Reliability
    You need to access the Internet whenever necessary, so you will need an ISP that offers a reliable Internet connection. It’s no use dialing up and getting an engaged signal all the time, or downloading an important document and your cable or ADSL is disconnected. If the signal is engaged all the time it might mean your ISP has a high user-to-modem ratio so if this happens, start looking for a new ISP.

  • Internet Connection options
    Once you have decided on your Internet needs, you will need an ISP with options that will deliver your needs. Most ISP’s offer more than one type of Internet Connection e.g. a dial-up account and some form of broadband (depending on the area that you are located) such as ADSL or Cable. At this stage in some countries only certain areas have ADSL or Cable connection. Some rural areas have access to Satellite Internet connection, which is faster than the normal 56k dial-up but is a bit slower (and less reliable) than ADSL or Cable.

  • Customer Service
    A very important factor in choosing an ISP is their customer service. Support needs to be available 24 hours, 7 days a week in case there are any problems with your connection – especially if you are running web servers. Smaller ISP’s are noted as having better customer service than the larger companies however word of mouth is a good way to find out what the customer service is like (and what the services offered are like).

Finding the right ISP is important for businesses that are going to be online as not only will the standard of ISP service affect business performance, but the costs involved in having an Internet connection can be expensive so you need to make sure that you are receiving the services you require at a fair price.