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Best Internet Service Providers

by Chad BrooksLast Modified: August 7, 2018

Best Use Cases
Reviews
Plans & Pricing
Choosing an ISP
Methodology
Internet Speeds Explained
High-Speed Internet Types
Common ISP Questions & Answers
Guides & Whitepapers (Downloads)
Map
Services

The Best Internet Service Providers of 2018

Few businesses can operate effectively these days without access to the internet, so choosing the best internet service provider (ISP) for your business is a critical decision. Whether it is providing access to cloud-hosted services like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Drive, providing telephone service via a Voice over Internet Provider (VoIP), processing customer payments or even just searching the web, the internet has become the technological heart among businesses of all sizes and in all industries.

Best Picks

Featured Service
Comcast Business ISP

Featured Service

Comcast Business ISP

Comcast Business is an excellent internet service provider for businesses of all sizes. It offers a range of small business and enterprise service plans with internet speeds ranging from 25 Mbps to 10 Gbps.

Best Use Cases

When choosing which ISP to go with, you might care about data plans or contracts more than speed and price. Here are some things to consider if you are looking for something specific in your internet service provider: 

  • Best high-speed internet service provider: You want a well-rounded service that takes everything into consideration. It has the speeds you need for the price you want. It has good data plans, offers the ancillary services you want, such as security or Wi-Fi and provides solid customer support.
  • Best internet service provider for customer service: If having customer support is your top priority, you might be willing to sacrifice something else, such as low costs, to get it. Test the support by contacting the company to learn more about their services. You may be able to get a better idea what to expect when working with the provider. You can also read online user reviews and Better Business Bureau complaints.
  • Best internet data plan: If data is your top priority, you want to find an internet service provider that offers unlimited data. Some providers put caps on how much data you can consume.
  • Best internet service for contracts: For many businesses, finding a service that won't break the bank is of critical importance. If price and contract are most important to you, compare and contrast the service providers in your area to ensure you are getting the best deal.
  • Best internet service provider for enterprises: If you are a large organization, you likely have sophisticated internet needs. Being able to get everything you need will like require a significant financial investment. With that in mind, you should meet with some internet providers in person. Bring them to your workplace so they can get a first-hand look at your needs. They can then make some recommendations on your specific needs. Also, be sure to look at multiple options. Large businesses have more negotiating power than smaller ventures. With that in mind, getting different price quotes can be valuable when negotiating a contract with the service provider you like best.
  • Best for home-based businesses: If you are running a business out of your home, you likely will be choosing a residential internet service provider that can support both your work and home online needs.

Reviews

With so much on the line, choosing a small business high speed internet provider isn't just about finding cheap, high-speed internet or the fastest business internet connection – it's about looking at the total picture to determine the type of service and connection you need. You need to consider what you are using the internet for. Is just for web searching? Is it to run cloud-hosted programs? Is to run your entire company's phone system? Once you can determine the various ways your company will be using the internet, you will have to consider how many employees you have. Will they all be online at the same time? 

Being able to answer those two key questions will help you determine the type of connection and download and upload speeds you will need. It will help you determine if 5 Mbps is a sufficient download speed for your business or if 40 Mbps is fast enough for you – or maybe you need significantly more speed than that. 

Another factor to consider when looking for high-speed internet for your business is what type of connection the provider is using. Among the different connections today's internet service providers offer include cable, digital subscriber lines (DSL) and fiber optics. Some providers offer some of these connection types, while others offer all of them. In addition to connection type, you need to factor in whether you want a provider that offers additional services, such as Wi-Fi, security, telephone and television solutions. Some internet service providers can bundle some, or all, of these services together into one package for a discounted rate. 

Once you know what you are looking for, you have to search for the best high-speed internet that is available in your area. Unlike many other types of business services, not all high-speed broadband is available in all states. When researching the best internet service providers, you should determine which providers offer their services in your area. Some of the larger high-speed internet providers that you may want to look into include Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox and Spectrum. 

This guide will provide you with more details on the different high-speed internet options, internet speeds, the different types of service plans providers offer and more advice on how to choose the best internet service provider for your needs. We also have reviews of the top high-speed internet services for small business to give you a better understanding of what each one offers.

ISP Plans and Pricing

Internet service plans are based on internet speed. The more speed and bandwidth you want, the more money you can expect to pay for your service. Each internet service provider varies in the plans they offer. Some offer plans with speeds as low as 1 Mbps. However, many providers start their business service plans with speeds around 25 Mbps. 

These starting service plans are designed for very small businesses with just one or two employees. Starting costs for internet service alone can range from $40 to $225 per month. Prices vary by service provider and whether you are willing to sign a 12, 24 or 36-month contract. 

Larger businesses will need more speed to support the internet needs of all their employees. Adding more speed increases the cost of the service plan. When moving up to speeds of between 75 Mbps and 100 Mbps prices rise to between $60 and $300 per month. As is the case with slower speed service plans, the per month costs of faster speed plans can also be lowered by agreeing to annual contracts.

For small businesses, most high-speed internet service plans have top out speeds of between 300 Mbps and 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps). These plans can cost between $100 and $1,000 per month. 

It is important to note, however, that the initial per month price might not extend for the length of any contract you sign. Some providers include a built-in price increase after each year of a contract. For example, the per monthly price may increase by $5 after the first year of the contract. 

Besides signing multi-year contracts, there are other ways to decrease your per month internet costs. Many internet service providers offer other amenities, such as telephone and television services. If your business has a need for those additional services, you can bundle them together in one plan for decreased rates on each service. While your total bill will be more than what it costs for internet service alone, you will be paying less on a per service basis. For example, instead of paying $70 for just internet and $50 for your phone service, you may be able to bundle the two together for a monthly cost of $100. 

There are several other fees that small businesses need to keep in consideration when choosing the best internet service provider for them. In addition to the service plan fees, there may also be equipment fees. Some internet service providers charge a monthly fee for the modem. Besides the equipment, there is usually a one-time installation charge. 

Depending on your needs, there may also be some additional internet-related services you might consider adding on to your plan, such as static IP addresses and Wi-Fi services and security. Static IP addresses, those that never change, are beneficial to businesses that have domain names and email addresses that are connected to their IP address. It is also a good investment for businesses with public or private servers and those that use a VPN for remote access. All these added features, along with taxes and other standard fees, can increase your bill. Remember that the price you initially see when investigating different internet service providers likely won't be the fee that comes in your bill each month. 

If you have an enterprise business, your costs will be substantially higher. You will want to look for a provider that offers dedicated enterprise plans. These plans usually include at least 1 Gbps of speed and can support numerous employees at one time. Most internet service providers have customized pricing for these services. Depending on the size of your business, a service plan that can support hundreds of employees and all the online services they use can costs thousands of dollars a month.

How to Choose an Internet Provider

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.

Coverage area

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.

Speed

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.

Our Methodology

When reviewing ISPs, we looked at a number of components, including: 

  • Service plans
  • Speed options
  • Internet connections
  • Added services, telephone and television solutions,
  • IP addresses
  • Employee and guest Wi-Fi
  • IP addresses
  • Customer support
  • Better Business Bureau rankings and complaints

Internet Speeds Explained

The most important factor for many businesses when choosing an internet service provider is internet speed. While slow internet speed can be annoying and frustrating when you are at home, it can be downright crippling in your workplace. 

Previous research from SanDisk discovered that the average employee wastes a week of work a year due to slow computer networks. The most common problem employees pointed to was waiting for file uploads and downloads to complete. 

Internet speed is the rate at which data travels back and forth between the world wide web and your computer and other connected devices, like tablets and smartphones. 

Internet speeds are based on the number of bytes per second that data travels back and forth from the Internet to computers and other connected devices. The slowest speeds are kilobytes per second (Kbps). There are 1,000 kilobytes in a megabyte and 1,000 megabytes in a gigabyte. So, a speed of 25 Mbps (megabytes per second) is the same as 25,000 kbps. Similarly, a speed of 1 Gbps is the same as 1,000 Mbps or 1,000,000 Kbps. 

Internet speed is divided into two parts: download speed and upload speed. Internet download speed is the rate at which data travels from the web to your computer and devices. It's how long it takes for you to access a web page, download a file or watch a video.  

Internet upload speeds are how fast you can send data to others. This can be to send an email, upload PowerPoint presentation to your Google Drive or post videos on YouTube. 

Downloads speeds are often much faster than upload speeds. This is done because most service providers set the download speeds to be faster because downloading files, surfing the web and streaming videos are what users do most. Some businesses, however, may need faster upload speeds due to the nature of their work. In those instances, it will be crucial to find a service plan that affords faster upload speeds.  It is important to note that most of the speeds you see advertised by internet service providers are for download speeds. So, be sure to ask about upload speeds before agreeing to any deals. 

One term that is often confused with internet speed is internet bandwidth. Bandwidth is how fast data and information can travel from the internet to your devices. This is maximum speed at which the data can travel. The actual speed in which it does is referred to as internet speed. For example, while your connection might allow for bandwidth of up to 50 Mbps, the speed at which the data actually travels is typically far less. 

There are several factors that account for the differences. How many people are using the network, the server, the connection protocol and the condition of the wiring and equipment can all play a role in the actual speeds. Comcast, AT&T, Spectrum and a host of other internet service providers provide internet speed tests.

High-Speed Internet Types

There are a variety of high-speed internet types. When high-speed internet was first introduced in the early 1990s, most consumers and small businesses used a dial-up connection. However, over the past two decades, several upgraded connection types have been introduced into the marketplace, each of which has made getting online significantly easier and speedier. Cable, digital subscriber line (DSL), fiber optic, satellite and wireless are now all high-speed internet connections small businesses have to choose from. Here is how each connection type differs. 

  • Dial-up: This is the original connection type. This required a modem and phone connection. Your internet service provider gave each user a dial-up number, which the modem would call to connect to the internet. The modem was used to convert analog data to digital data. With dial-up, the maximum speed is 56 kilobits per second (Kbps). However, those speeds were typically lower since phone connection and noise played a role in how much speed you received. 
  • DSL: DSL connections were introduced in the early 2000s. Instead of requiring users to dial-into the service, DSL is a connection that users are always connected to. It runs on the same copper wires that are used to transmit telephone service to homes and businesses. While dial-up made you choose between talking on the phone and being online, DSL allows you to do both at the same time. There are several different types of DSL connections: asymmetric digital subscriber lines (ADSL), ADSL +2, symmetric digital subscriber lines (SDSL) and very high digital subscriber lines (VDSL). Each varies in how they transmit data over the copper wires. In general, DSL typically provides speeds of between 128 Kbps and 9 Mbps. 
  • Cable: Cable internet connections were also introduced in the early 2000s. Instead of using the telephone service copper wires, coaxial cable connections piggy-back off the connections cable television operators were using to bring television service into homes and businesses. The coaxial cables used in these connections provide for significantly greater bandwidth than dial-up modems. This in turn results in significantly faster speeds. Cable connections provide speeds of anywhere from 512 Kbps to 100 Mbps. 
  • Fiber: In the past decade, fiber optic internet connections were introduced. Fiber broadband is seen as the fastest internet connection. It uses special fiber optic lines, which are a fraction of the size of one strand of human hair, that run from the internet service provider's central hub directly to each workplace or home. The lines convert electrical signals that carry data to light. That light is then sent through the lines. Fiber connections offer significantly faster internet speeds. These can be speeds as fast as 10 Gbps. 
  • Satellite: In this type of connection, satellites are used to transmit internet service to homes and workplaces. This is a patricianly appealing option for users in areas where other forms of broadband connections aren't available. Some satellite broadband internet providers are now offering speeds as fast as 100 Mbps. However, speeds typically range closer to 10 to 15 Mbps for most users. 
  • Wireless: Wireless internet connections use radio links to transmit data. As the name implies, no wires or lines are needed to connect to the internet using wireless service. Wireless speeds typically max out at about 10 Mbps.

Have a WiFi / Cable Internet question of your own?

I agree with Mr. Berckenkamp's response. To add: I'm assuming that switching to wired Ethernet connectivity is not an option. If not, you might consider trying Power-line communication solutions and ditch wireless altogether, especially if you have security concerns. It's hard to predict how well it will work, because it's entirely dependent on the electrical wiring in your location, but it's worth considering. I recently switched one of my devices from wireless to PLC and am very...

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Downloadable Guides

eBook Download
eBook Download

5 Things Your Customers Want to Do with Virtual Phone Numbers

eBook DOWNLOAD

Can your software product deliver? Contrary to popular belief, the phone is still ringing off the hook. From click-to-call and text messaging to call tracking and in-app mobile calling, today's businesses are eager to use the traditional phone number in decidedly non-traditional ways. Download our eBook to learn about 5 things your customers want to do with virtual phone numbers right now—and why they matter to your business.

Map

Comcast Business ISP
One Comcast Center
Philadelphia, PA
Comcast Business ISP
CenturyLink
100 CenturyLink Drive
Monroe, LA
CenturyLink
Cox Business
6205-B Peachtree Dunwoody
Atlanta, GA
Cox Business
Frontier Business
401 Merritt 7
Norwalk, CT
Frontier Business
Spectrum Business
400 Atlantic Street
Stamford, CT
Spectrum Business
Viasat
6155 El Camino Real
Carlsbad, CA
Viasat
Xfinity
One Comcast Center
Philadelphia, PA
Xfinity

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List of 12Best Internet Service Providers

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