Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
How to find the right ISP for your small businessAn Internet Service Provider (ISP) – or Internet Access Provider (IAP) - is a company that provides Internet access to its customers – either businesses or individuals. For a monthly fee, an ISP provides all of the capabilities you need in order to connect to the Internet, browse the Web, use email and more. Generally, when you select a broadband or cable internet service provider, the ISP component comes with it. The technology and functions operate largely behind the scenes.
The Internet access field is highly competitive and includes many players. How can you choose the right ISP for your small business? There are three basic factors to consider when choosing your business's ISP:
- Which ISP offers the optimal connection speed and features for your business?
- Which ISP offers the local, national, and/or wireless access?
- Which ISP has proven reliability?
How fast do you want it to be?
Select your top featuresThe more you do online, the more your ISP must offer. If you download/upload large files, will your ISP support it? Or, if you want to host your own Web site, your ISP must e-commerce services.
Consider security and serviceFind out what the ISP provides to keep the virtual wolf – we're talking spammers and viruses - from your e-door. Service: can you reach a live ISP rep, via a toll-free phone number, 24/7?If not, keep looking.
Check provider reviewsWant the real 411 on a company, from its own customers? Don't sign up with an ISP until you've gotten the full scoop.
ISPs-to-goDo you travel for business? If so, find an ISP with service coverage in the applicable cities, wireless ISP (WISP), and/or integrated voice mail/email to check messages by phone/Internet.
- Think Reliability: ISPs offering T1/T3 or higher connections include a now-standard Service Level Agreement (SLA) that protects your business against Internet downtime.
- Plan for Growth: As your company grows, so will its email and Internet needs due to more employees and increased business, so plan accordingly
- Contractual Basics: Most ISPs have a standard contract length of 3 years, AND charge penalties if the contract is broken before it expires.
- All-in-One: Some ISPs now offer all-in-one packages, with several small biz features grouped together for one price.
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