Choosing the wrong ISP can be disastrous. To make sure you make the right choice, you need to consider a number of factors – from uptime to capacity, equipment and response in the field.
When choosing an ISP, do not base your choice solely on price or familiarity. With the abundance of Internet Service Providers today, it can be tempting to choose the fastest or least expensive option. Although it can save you money in the short term, it could cause you a lot more headaches and loss of productivity in the long run.
Here are the factors to consider when looking for an ISP:
Availability Commitments: Of all the promises made by ISPs, none is worthless if the ISP fails to meet its availability commitments. Circuits must simply work. If they do not, organizations become dependent on a redundant or backup service. Look for service level agreements that provide real and measurable availability goals, not just 99.9% operational guarantees. Emphasize the specific terms that govern what happens when the service fails. Does your organization receive credit on its bill? Is the ISP going to scramble a 24×7 technician? Make sure of these details before choosing your ISP.
Speed: Most customers tend to rank their ISPs only on advertised data rates. While many ISPs offer businesses a service of 5 Mbps or higher, these claims must be verified. Marketing claims are sometimes excessive; the excuses are many. Before ordering, find out what other customers using the same service are meeting in the vicinity to find out how far downstream an ISP is. You can also test the speed of all new circuits on the day of installation, one month later, then quarterly. You can also find Internet Service Providers with the fastest download and download speeds actually tested by users around the world, using the Speedtest.net Net Index.
Technical / Customer Support: Even the best connections are problematic and there is a good chance that you have a question or problem to solve. If there is a problem, to what extent is technical support available? “I asked for help to recover a failed commercial circuit, but I heard a message stating that the hours of assistance are from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday. This is unacceptable for an ISP. Make sure the selected ISP provides technical support that meets your needs.
Reactive Field Service: If you experience any breakdowns or other Internet-related problems (as will happen), is it easy to get help? If a failure occurs (the most common problems are the failed modems due to lightning or other natural disaster, the wiring is faulty in the network interface device supported by the ISP, etc.), to which how quickly does the ISP commit to resolving the failure?
Quality and flexibility of the equipment: IT professionals know which modems are failing and how often. They also know which modems with built-in firewalls really need to be configured in bridge mode and paired with better business routers. When comparing the offers of two ISPs, consider the quality of each company’s equipment. The less an IT professional needs to spend time on the site administering, reconfiguring, or restarting network equipment, the better. In addition, some ISPs allow customers to provide their own modems. Take advantage of these opportunities because feeding your own network equipment not only allows you to choose the quality you want, but also reduces costs.
Special Additions and Features: Many Internet Service Providers add supplements only to give you the impression that you are getting value for money. Items such as antivirus program subscriptions, an ISP brand email address, and personal web pages are just extras you probably do not need. Such features may influence you and you may end up choosing a less reliable ISP with less availability or speed or that may cost you more in the long run.
Pricing: Pricing is the factor that should be least taken into account when selecting an ISP. Availability, capacity, service accessibility and response in the field are much more critical, especially considering the importance of Internet circuits for today’s businesses. When factoring prices, be sure to compare apples to apples. Some Internet service providers require customers to purchase a modem, while others rent the equipment. And some ISPs require multi-year contracts. These and long-term leases may end up costing you more in the long run, so compare costs carefully.
Make a list of all your requirements and prioritize them. Then compare these requirements with Internet service providers who can meet those needs. While pricing is an important factor in choosing an ISP, you also need to consider your personal needs, family structure, features and conditions of the service plan, technical commitments, and reputation of the ISP.