When choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP), most businesses focus mainly on the cost and don’t put much thought into other aspects that are equally important if not more. The goal of every business choosing an ISP shouldn’t be to get the cheapest service but to consider the below factors and using cost as the differentiator if necessary.
This article is for those considering a Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) for their business. However, some factors can be used when choosing a home or remote work internet service.
If an ISP has no coverage in your business location or locations, you might as well move on with another provider. There are many ISPs that do not have coverage in most parts of a state or country but depend on their partner’s infrastructure to deliver the service.
A good ISP will conduct either a desktop or physical site survey or both at your location to determine if they have coverage or not.
2. Types of Connection
They are 3 main types of internet connections being used. Radio, Fiber optics, and VSAT connections.
A survey should be conducted to determine which connection type is best or connections that can be deployed to give the client options.
It is an advantage if an ISP can provide both a Radio and Fiber optics connection in order to provide a Back-Up service which is very important for avoiding network interruptions.
An unreliable internet service isn’t good for your business productivity and your brand image. Many ISPs would claim they have a 98%-99.99% uptime and honestly some might have a few downtimes in a year.
However, there should be a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that stipulates the service to be rendered and in case of downtimes, what the ISP is willing to give to compensate the client. E.g. Credit periods, discounts, etc.
Tip: Check the ISP’s website to see and contact their clients for their feedback on the ISP’s service.
As a business, you need to know the bandwidth (speed) that will be appropriate before requesting a quote. This will depend on the number of users and internet-connected devices (e.g Servers, Video Conference Devices), applications such as CRM, your type of business- web hosting, e-commerce, graphics/video production, etc.
The good thing here is that the download and upload speed in a DIA is the same which is especially great for video conferencing.
Tip: If you run a small business with 5-10 staff that majorly check emails, upload/download files less than 30MB each, browse the web, and watch a few videos online, you will need between 10-15Mbps for a smooth operation.
5. Upstream capacity
This is very important especially as more organizations are encouraging remote works.
The ISPs need to have the capacity to provide remote access, and automated offsite back-ups to enable organizations to transmit data to their staff wherever they may be.
6. Professional field service and Customer Service
It is important that installed devices are done properly. Having bad cabling can affect the quality of service you receive and would lead to frequent calls to the customer service department.
Also, if your business is one that requires it’s internet to be up 24/7 then you need a customer service that is available 24/7 and to speak to a real person and not a robot.
Let’s be honest, problems will occur and how quickly the ISP is able to attend to your complaint and resolve them should be a priority to every business.
Tip: When considering an ISP, ask for certificates or awards that attest to their customer service quality and get feedback from their clients.
7. Equipment quality and flexibility
ISPs know which Access Points (aka modems or Routers) are of high standards and come with a built-in firewall. Most likely they would recommend what they believe is best and support especially after a physical site survey has been carried out.
ISPs generally don’t provide choices when it comes to Access Points, however you can request a particular device you trust but listen to what the ISP has to say.
8. Contract length
Usually, most contract lengths in Nigeria start from 12 months. If you are thinking that’s too long, then you probably don’t want to be in business for the next 12 months.
The advantage is even when you don’t pay when due for some reason (supposing you are paying in installments), the ISP will still keep your internet up because of the contract and considering you are running a business. Many ISPs can also offer a temporary discount especially if the business isn’t going that great or can increase your bandwidth for a day to cater for high demand, say for an event.
The disadvantage is the penalty fees to be paid in case of early termination of the contract. This can be pro-rated
Tip: Before you sign a contract, ask for a testing period of 7 days to evaluate the internet quality. This will typically be granted after you sign the contract but your billing will start after the 7 days. Be sure to make your concerns known to the ISP in writing within the free period.
9. Terms and Conditions
Contracts can be adjusted but Terms and Conditions cannot just for one client.
Make sure you read the ISP’s Terms and Conditions and you are comfortable with it.
10. Restrictive policies
Find out the ISP’s policies on Ports freedom and SMTP flexibility. Some of the policies might not be to your advantage.
An Internet connection is a critical IT Infrastructure for any business. But as a business, you need more than just internet. You might need a Static IP Address, Email service, VPN, Cloud services, etc.
Find out if the ISP you have in mind offers these extras so you can have one ISP partner to focus on and really understands your business needs.
Yes, the cost is still very important but should be the last factor to consider when choosing an ISP. After considering the factors above in relation to your needs, create a list of ISPs that can deliver and then use cost as the differentiating factor.
Be careful not to compare oranges and mangoes. E.g Do not compare the cost of one ISP that offers 12 hours of customer service per day with another that offers 24/7 customer service.
While these factors may seem a lot to consider, I believe we can agree they are vital in making the right decision. To save you the time and energy, this is why Comjects7 is here. We work with a number of reputable ISPs to help businesses find the internet service they need by understanding their present and future requirements. We consider all factors in recommending the most suitable ISP for your business.
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