The Internet has evolved into a crucial element in conducting business operations. Whether it involves accessing the global marketplace, improving employee communication and collaboration, or retrieving data from the cloud, the Internet offers a plethora of advantages that benefit business growth.
Selecting the right Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a critical decision for small businesses, often determining their efficiency, security, and growth potential. In the initial stages, cost considerations often drive these choices, but the consequences of overlooking key factors can be detrimental. Slow or unreliable internet connections can hinder productivity, disrupt operations, and even compromise security.
In this article, we will talk about the various aspects that a business needs to consider before hiring an Internet Service Provider that not only meets your current needs but also supports your long-term business goals
Bandwidth is commonly known as the network speed. It determines the amount of data that can be uploaded or downloaded over a connection. It is often measured in Mbps or Gbps. It is one of the basic requirements that any business owner asks for, as constant lagging can hamper productivity at work. Moreover, having faster internet access also enhances quicker access to cloud applications like Google Docs and data backups. It also results in onboarding more users without any fear of internet blackouts. To understand your bandwidth requirement, some of the things that you must ask are the speed of your Internet, how much data you’ll use, the number of devices that will connect, and if you need point-to-point connectivity. Usually, for a small business, gigabit speeds are required for efficient connectivity.
This is how you can determine the speed you need for your business based on the number of users:
- For 10 people or less, go for 100 Mbps. It’s good for Zoom calls, saving big files, and working from home. If you’re running a website or selling things online, you need this speed too.
- If you have 15 to 25 people, aim for 300 to 500 Mbps. More people mean more need for speed. This range lets you do online business, use tools to work together from different places, attend big video meetings, and save lots of data in the cloud.
- For over 25 people, go big with 1 gigabit or 1,000 Mbps. This super-fast internet is like a highway for your business. It’s perfect for bigger teams using cloud apps, sharing lots of files, and working on videos and pictures. It’s an investment that keeps your business running smoothly as it grows.
Think of security as one more important thing on your list when you seek an ISP for your business. This is because there are some security threats that can hamper your business in various ways, such as:
- Business Disruptions: There are some online attacks that can cause trouble for both internet companies and their customers. One type is called a denial of service attack (DoS), and another is called a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). In DDoS attacks, hackers try to make lots of internet traffic go to different places. This messes things up for the internet company and the people using it. For customers, this can mean that their internet connection stops working, and they can’t do their business tasks. These attacks make it really hard for people to use the internet because the hackers send too many requests, and the internet can’t handle them all.
- Loss of Important Information: There are also attacks where hackers try to get into the internet system and steal important information. This is like when someone tries to break into a safe and take valuable things. It’s like breaking the system that helps computers find each other on the internet. This kind of attack can lead to the loss of sensitive customer data and even money.
- Compromised Devices: Sometimes, devices connected to the internet get infected with a computer virus. When this happens, hackers can access those devices and do harmful things. They can even crack into the internet and steal critical data. It’s like a lock on a door that’s easy to pick. This can lead to a big mess and data theft.
Even though there are many options for providers, not all can promise to keep you safe from bad emails, spying software, viruses, and even hackers. Moreover, small businesses that use Unified Communications have a lot to worry about regarding the security of their data centers.
However, a good internet service provider takes security seriously, and they might even check the backgrounds of their employees. Moreover, they can also stop problems before they happen, like finding and getting rid of harmful malware and having a plan if something goes wrong.
You should also make sure your ISP can help keep your workers safe, even if they use their computers or work remotely. And they should keep your customer information private and safe using unique codes and other things.
Even if your business is small right now and you dream of making it bigger, make sure the internet service provider you choose can help you when the requirements increase. This is because many small internet providers might fail to meet your internet requirements as your business grows. Moreover, if you purchase the plans from big internet providers, they might be too costly for your current budget. So, you should check to see if your Internet service provider can change your plan as your business grows and if it is within your current budget. In other words, choose an ISP that can give you faster internet and better service as your business grows. So, they can take care of your internet needs while you work on making your dream business come true.
Dedicated customer service:
When your internet acts up, you want customer support that really helps. Sure, it’s all about computers and data, but if your internet company doesn’t treat you like a person, finding a new one might be a good idea. Sometimes, paying a bit more for better support is even okay. So, before you pick an internet company, make sure they can fix any problems you have really quickly.
Here are some things to ask before you choose your internet company:
- Can you talk to an expert on the phone if things go wrong?
- Can you reach them anytime, even in the middle of the night or on holidays?
- Do they charge you extra for talking to customer service?
Reliability is the most crucial factor to look out for if you are hiring an ISP. This is because having internet services that are lagging or slow is both non-productive and stressful. And one thing which is more frustrating is no response during internet breakdowns. Thus, if you are in a business that can’t risk any interruptions in internet services, then it is best to pay for an ISP that offers a Service Level Agreement (SLA). SLAs are contracts for services that describe how reliable the link should be. Customer service and trust go hand in hand. No matter how good the link is, something will eventually go wrong whether it’s due to broken hardware or a broken line. How good their customer service is is shown by how quickly they can get your internet service back and running.
A good service company knows that their customers need better service and apart from SLAs, has the below features to look for in terms of reliability:
- Support for current customer deployments:A good security provider should be able to support both the routers that a customer already has and the devices that the customer has connected to their network or will connect to in the future.
- A platform that can be added to and work with a provider’s existing systems and solutions: In practice, this could mean adding this to the standard systems for provisioning, billing, and support focused on the operator. Dashboards and apps for consumers and businesses that can be customized with the operator’s name or added to existing apps are valuable features.
- In-house security expertise: Security providers should make it easy for customers to find references to security investigation that looks at how security flaws can affect a customer. At the same time, a responsible security service will work with a client to teach them how to avoid security threats in the first place.
Ease of installation:
Most of the time, setting up an internet connection takes time. For instance, most ISPs take from 30 to 60 days to connect to a new place. Also, you should work with a business internet service that can set up the connections and other hardware quickly. The network should also be easy and quick to set up to fit your business’s needs.
Type of Internet Connection:
When you are looking for an Internet service provider in your area, you might look at all the above-mentioned points but could forget to look at the type of Internet connection that your Internet Service Provider is considering. However, this is an essential criterion that can determine the speed, reliability, and availability of the product.
- DSL & ADSL (Digital Subscriber Line): DSL and ADSL provide substantial bandwidth for small businesses through copper telephone lines. ADSL, for instance, delivers a speedy 8MBPS downstream and over 448 KBPS upstream, making it both swift and easy to install.
- 4G & 5G: These mobile networks offer businesses global connectivity with efficient speed and performance. The key distinction is speed, with 5G being notably faster and offering lower latency connections. Additionally, 5G can support more simultaneous users, reducing congestion.
- Fiber Optics: Fiber optics transmit data at the speed of light, ensuring high-speed connectivity across extended distances. Ethernet over Fiber provides bandwidth options of up to 1, 10, and even 100 Gbps, reaching distances of up to 80 Km and beyond.
- Microwave: Microwave internet connections use microwave radio links to deliver high-capacity data. This line-of-sight wireless technology employs high-frequency radio waves, making it a viable alternative to Fiber.
- GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network): GPON is a point-to-multipoint fiber access network known for its use of passive splitters in the fiber distribution network. This enables a single-mode fiber from the provider to serve multiple customers, offering a downstream capacity of 2.488 Gbp/s and an upstream capacity of 1.244 Gbp/s, shared among users.
Considering the importance of uninterrupted network service, it’s advisable to choose an ISP that can provide both Fiber and 4G & 5G connections, ensuring backup services are available when needed. Therefore, when evaluating ISPs, take into account the type of connection that best suits your business’s requirements.
Remember, it is essential to know what to expect from an ISP. This can decide between success and failure, reaching peak efficiency and struggling with delays. Of course, you’re the one who knows your business best. However, the above points will help you discover an ISP that tries to understand your business needs. They should be ready to make changes to fit your immediate requirements and bigger plans in the long run. Brilliant Mind is one such Internet Service Provider that offers you seamless connectivity and high-speed internet services so that your business can reach its full potential without compromising on productivity.