Now more than ever, having a secure and reliable connection to the internet is essential for running your business. Ten years ago you may have been able to survive a day or two without internet access, but today that is close to impossible. Whether you are receiving orders through your website, or relying on email for business communications, your revenue depends on maintaining an online presence. This makes choosing a commercial internet service provider a crucial decision. Here are some things to consider before you begin comparing companies.

Technical Support

The first thing you should ask any ISP provider is: How fast can you diagnose and solve problems? Obviously there are a lot of factors that go into that answer, but what you want to hear is a confident description of their support system. Every company out there is going to tell you that customer service is their number one priority.  This might even be true, but service is not nearly as important as support. Would you rather chat with a friendly service representative, who has no clue on how to fix your problem, or would you prefer to speak with a tech geek that may not have the best social skills, but can get you back online in a few minutes?

Connection Speed

When you begin comparing providers you’ll find that companies use a lot of different statistics to sell you on their service. The thing is, these numbers mean very little unless you understand the benchmark for connection speed. You should be looking for download speeds in the neighborhood of 100 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 15 Mbps. This pretty much eliminates DSL services from consideration. Just remember that it doesn’t matter if you sign up for a so-called “business plan” from third-rate company.  The real value is in connection speed, so pay attention to those numbers first.

New Account Specials

The good news for businesses of all sizes is that the ISP market is ultra-competitive.  Now that doesn’t mean you won’t pay for a superior plan, but don’t be afraid to ask about promotions for new accounts. Transfer accounts are the most valuable kind for business ISP’s because they are typically larger companies with good credit ratings. With that said, tell your salesman up front if you are looking to move away from your current ISP. It could mean substantial savings in your first year, or even a free trial period to compare services.

When it comes to choosing internet service for your business, it is true that you get what you pay for. While broadband and fiber companies do make a profit, there are significant costs involved with equipment and employing a support staff. The shortcuts that the “cheap” companies take are often on the support side, so be leery of a price that seems too good to be true. Last but not least, if you are given a promotional rate to join, find out what the standard rate will be after your promotion expires.

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