5 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Internet Provider
For most businesses and households, Internet access is as important as their other utilities. Most businesses use Internet access for everything from communicating with customers (e-mail, VOIP, etc.) to credit card processing. Without Internet access, some businesses simply cannot operate. In addition to business needs, more and more home users are using the Internet and television as their primary source of entertainment. This is due to the growth of video streaming services and social media. The purpose of this post is to highlight some important factors when choosing an Internet service provider (ISP) for your business or home.
Unfortunately, this is the biggest deciding factor in rural areas. A high-speed cable or fiber connection won’t do your business any good if the provider doesn’t serve your area. Surprisingly many businesses and homeowners have only a few options, one of which is usually a satellite Internet option and some type of broadband or 4G-LTE network (which can be surprisingly good with the right equipment and plan).
As a business, you need to make sure you have enough speed to not disrupt daily usage, even when demand is highest. For some customers, speed is the most important factor in choosing an ISP. They simply want the fastest Internet they can get in their area. This is based entirely on location and what is offered to you as a business or consumer. The number you look at when comparing plans is called the “Bandwidth.”Bandwidth is simply the amount of information per unit time that the transmission medium can handle. Some users are lucky and have access to fiber optic connections at over 1,000 Megabits (Mbps) per second, while some rural businesses are stuck with DSL connections of 3 to 6 Mbps. Also, just because the speed is advertised does not mean that is the speed you will receive. It is certainly worth checking with neighboring companies to see what speed you can realistically expect.
An ISP only makes sense if there is a good balance between speed and price. For example, if you run a small business from your home, then €200 a month for a strong fiber connection probably doesn’t make sense for you. For some businesses, price is not as important as speed and reliability. The same €200 per month for a strong fiber connection mentioned above might be a no-brainer for a growing business with at least 25 employees. As with most aspects of businesses, you have to weigh the pros and cons.
Type of connection
The type of connection has a big impact on how fast the Internet “feels.”Satellite Internet is known for appearing “slow,”despite respectable download speeds. The reason for this is purely physical. The signal is sent from your satellite and travels about 3,500 kilometers into space. From there, the orbiting satellite contacts a network center to find the requested site. That information is then sent back to the satellite in orbit and then back to you. Even at the speed of light, this process takes nearly 500 milliseconds plus any additional processing time for the request, which occurs on both the server and client side. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but adding an extra 1/2 second to each action makes it seem as slow as you are used to with a traditional connection. In contrast, even the latency on 4G-LTE signals is around 100 milliseconds versus 400+ milliseconds for satellite connections. Other connections, such as fiber, offer much lower latency, often less than 20 milliseconds.
Reliability is probably the biggest factor, especially for business customers. Unreliable Internet is stressful and counterproductive. If you work in an industry where you cannot risk Internet service interruptions, it is wise to consider an ISP that offers a Service Level Agreement (SLA). SLAs are service contracts that specifically state how reliable the connection must be. Customer service goes hand in hand with reliability. No matter how good the connection is, one day something will go wrong. Whether it is dying hardware or a physically damaged line, it is very likely that one day there will be problems. Good customer service is a measure of how quickly they can get you back up and running. Most companies can’t wait a few days for new hardware to be sent to them. They need a higher level of service and a good service provider understands that.