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Choosing an internet service provider for your business

Published:
23/09/2013

An internet service provider (ISP) is a company that provides internet access to individuals and businesses.

What type of ISP do you need to keep your business connected?
That all depends on what type of business you run.

When choosing an ISP for your business, you need to remember that high-quality IT services are paramount to the online and offline success of your business.

Money doesn’t always matter most
Australian businesses are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing ISP providers.

No matter what type of business you’re running, a quality internet connection and ISP service is a necessity.

Most ISP companies will offer “business” packages, but it’s important to do your own research when it comes to determining what inclusions matter most to you, and your personal business needs.

You may not need everything offered in the ISP package. For example, do you really need a plan that offers unlimited data?

According to Attie O’Rourke, brand manager for online hospitality equipment finance company Silver Chef Limited, money does not always equate to quality in the digital business world.

"Great doesn’t always have to mean expensive,” Ms O’Rourke said.

"While the best technology may solve every hurdle you face and provide the ultimate digital presence, it could be that some basic technology solves the critical issues you face today, as well as saving you some pocket change to seize the next opportunity tomorrow.” 

However, beware of low-cost plans offering unlimited data that don’t have good connectivity stats due to congestion on the system.

Take stock of where you are now

To make your task of choosing an ISP a little easier, some things to think about are:

  • Your current usage – are you already using an ISP provider in some capacity to run your business?

  • Even if this is your first website, or initial foray into digital business, do you use an ISP for your home internet connection? How has that worked?

  • What is it about the service that you like or dislike? If you have been running your business from a home site and you are looking to make it more “official”, consider what you might already be using in terms of data and storage, and what you expect in terms of connectivity and accessibility. This is often a good blueprint to build upon when determining what it is that your business will need from an ISP.

  • Do you want more easily-accessible tech-support?

  • What do you expect in terms of performance?

Location

It’s a global business world, but the physical location of your business does matter when it comes to choosing an ISP.

Factors such as coverage and distance from the telephone exchange can influence actual performance for both fixed and mobile services, and it’s worth checking out coverage maps from ISP suppliers you are considering before you decide on the one that suits you.

If you have staff who commonly work from home or on the road, as well as the main office, your requirements will be different again in terms of providing a wireless link service to your mainframe headquarters.

Don’t be afraid to ask ISP companies you’re comparing to cough up stats on things like:

  • Connection speed – even getting as specific as asking how long it will take to download a certain sized file.

  • What their performance is like during peak periods for your business (this is especially important if you are a seasonal business).

  • How quickly will they respond to and resolve problems if you call their help desk?

  • How long will it take for the service to be connected?

  • What happens if you cancel out of the contract early?


Word of mouth

Don’t be afraid to openly ask your friends and colleagues about their ISP experiences.
Bad news travels fast, but so does good news.

You can read about other people's experiences and recommendations on websites such as Whirlpool.

Read the fine print

Don’t skip over any parts of the sign-up contract that have to do with:

  • set-up fees.
  • prices in asterisks.
  • information in footnotes.

Remember that you need to know the total cost you would pay over the whole ISP contract before you sign up.

Don’t just be lured by the “package” prices they’re selling, as your basic usage might go above and beyond that package upfront.

Data

You may not know yet how much data your business needs will require, but at some point the data inclusions in your plan will become very important to you and your business operations.

Most plans have data allowances that are measured in gigabytes (GB). 

Sites like Whistle Out have tools you can use to check how much data you would most likely need depending on your core business.

Always ask about excess fees and what will happen if you go over your allocated data.

How easy do they make it to monitor your data usage over the billing month?

What tools does the ISP offer businesses to track their usage?

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