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What to Look for in an Internet Service Provider

Eduardo Vasconcellos
Eduardo Vasconcellos
Managing Member at Hafelein | White, LLC

When searching for a business internet service provider, these are the key features and services you should look for.

Business internet service are a great way for an organization to set up and scale a fast, stable connection to the internet. Unlike residential internet, a business internet service provider (ISP) usually offers improved performance that is designed to enhance how your company communicates with clients or customers. And with an always-on, high-speed ISP, your business can save time and money.

While a business ISP usually offers improved speed and stability, it can do much more. Business ISPs also offer reliable services like enterprise-grade cybersecurity, business email accounts, web hosting services and more. Larger companies have in-house tech teams dedicated to setting up customized and complex internet services, so if you have limited IT support, a robust and reliable business ISP is a cost-effective solution.

Basic business internet features

When searching for a top business internet service provider, here are some of the key basic features you want to look for:

High-speed access

Perhaps the most critical factor of any internet plan is speed. A high-speed internet plan lets your team do more in less time, even as it grows and uses more bandwidth. There are several options for high-speed internet, but a business doesn't have to contend with speed throttling that one may find with a residential service, especially when it comes to uploading large files. Business ISPs offer similar upload and download speeds to help your team share files and view content throughout the lifecycle of any project.

Business ISPs can be up to 10 times faster than residential internet connections, with speeds of up to 10 Gbps. You may think you don't need that kind of bandwidth on your internet plan, but while most businesses won't actually see transfer rates that fast, those high-speed internet connections can help your business. Business ISPs support multistream workflows, so you can have more employees using the same connection without hurting network stability.

Business email accounts

Many business ISPs provide business email accounts. This not only helps promote your organization, but it also adds credibility by helping you look more professional and prepared. While it may be an added cost compared to free email services like Gmail or Yahoo Mail, the return on investment is well worth the money.

TipTip: With a business email service, you usually get more storage to accommodate email attachments, and more importantly, the added storage capacity allows you to maintain a meticulous archive of all corporate communications. Better still, the security measures bundled with email services help improve safety for the entire company.

Self-service mobile apps

In a mobile-first world, mobile apps are more popular than ever, especially when it comes to self-service tech support. Business ISPs that offer mobile self-service apps usually have that software integrated throughout its entire system, providing painless support and quick solutions when technical problems occur.

Self-service mobile apps tend to be focused on clerical functionality like paying bills, resetting passwords, or updating profile details, but they can be used to push notifications that alert customers to new features or promotions. More sophisticated mobile apps support cloud backup to help your team save invoices and customer history while they are in the field, access customer relationship management (CRM) tools like analytics and order archives, as well as tap into documents stored on the corporate intranet.

Additional features to consider

In addition to some of the basics, there are other features, tools and services you may want to be on the lookout for when shopping for an ISP.

Domain name registration

If you don't already have a domain name for your company, your business ISP can set that up for you. While it doesn't offer the tools to build a website for you, a business ISP offers domain name registration and hosting services. Having an ISP that can search for available domain names and ultimately reserve and process the one you want can be a very valuable service if you're a new business just getting started.

If your business has a website, domain registration services are something you'll need to get anyway to manage, transfer and reserve any domain name. And if you're already using your business ISP to manage your business emails, selecting and registering your company's domain name is an easy addition to your entire bundle.

Web hosting

A web hosting plan is another necessity when building a website. A web host is the repository of all your files and content, although it doesn't necessarily offer the tools or functionality to build the website itself. There are many types of web hosts, including a dedicated web server, a virtual private server, or a service specifically tailored to web hosting, like WordPress or GoDaddy. 

Many business ISPs offer cloud-based web hosting. The benefits of using a cloud-based solution are that it's easy to scale as your business grows, and you're better prepared for any surges in peak simultaneous users (PSU) that may tax your web server. The pricing with cloud-based web hosting is fairly flexible, with plenty of options to choose from, so you're only paying for what you use.

Assessing service levels

In addition to the tools an ISP offers, you also want to make sure it provides the services your business requires.

Customer service

When assessing a business ISP, don't forget to check on the customer service and support it offers. Network stability and uptime are key considerations when looking at the general customer service levels of a provider, but the average time spent on support calls and technical support are other metrics worth investigating.

Did you knowDid you know? Verizon and AT&T are often front-runners in customer service, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), offering quick resolutions to technical issues and consistently receiving positive customer support feedback.

Phone/Internet/Cable bundles

You'll often find the best value when you include services like a business phone service, whether it's through promotional pricing or negotiated rates on a larger bundle. Many ISPs want to get you into their ecosystem and often provide deep discounts on bundled services, making it easy to manage your entire service suite from a single provider.

Wi-Fi and hot spots

Setting up a Wi-Fi connection for a business is no small feat, and if it's not set up correctly, it can do more harm than good. But if you're getting help from a reputable business ISP, you won't have much to worry about. An ISP will help you find the right equipment and service package throughout your entire worksite. [Learn how to set up a hotspot for your business].

A high-speed Wi-Fi network can help improve efficiency in your office by providing your employees access to the information they need when they're at work. Further, all the relevant corporate information they need is through an encrypted connection, so it's safe and secure. Your business ISP can also create an encrypted Wi-Fi protected access (WPA) hotspot to give guests protected access to your network whenever they visit.

 

Image Credit: monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
Eduardo Vasconcellos
Eduardo Vasconcellos
business.com Contributing Writer
Eduardo Vasconcellos is a veteran copywriter, creative content producer and marketing communications specialist with over two decades experience, able to take complex concepts and turn them into something simple and memorable. By focusing on customer psychology and product benefits, his specialty is crafting full marketing campaigns that follow industry best practices while authentically speaking to a customer’s need.