How Do I Choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP)?

When it comes to choosing internet service providers, the array of similar plans at competitive prices makes the decision a challenging one. What are the key differentiators between ISPs and business internet plans? What does your business really need? Such value-added services are the cornerstones of your final choice of ISP and should be brought into consideration when selecting a trusted vendor to partner with.

Uptime Commitments
An ISP’s commitment to uptime is their greatest promise to customers. The service must be highly reliable with minimal interruptions. Service-level agreements (SLA) detail the measures that ISPs put into place to ensure that the customer gets the best possible connectivity. In the event of downtime, what will your ISP do to salvage the situation? Gather a team of technicians? Put a rebate on the next invoice? Ensure that the details of the uptime commitments as well as the downtime support processes are in writing.

A good feature to take into account is whether or not the ISP is carrier-neutral. Carrier-neutrality allows you to spread your connectivity across different end providers in order to ensure minimal interruptions to service even if one end carrier experiences downtime.

Technical Support
Internet service providers have many similar offerings at competitive prices nowadays, which makes service offerings the main differentiator. One of the more common ISP service offerings include a technical support team on standby 24/7 for customers. Others, like local ISP Pacific Internet, even offers value-added services including a dedicated account manager, no matter if you are a small business or large corporation. A dedicated account manager will ensure that your questions and feedback are promptly addressed and can go a long way in giving you peace of mind.

If your business is highly reliant on internet connectivity, security should be a major concern in selecting a suitable ISP. A good ISP will be able to advise you on the security risks and countermeasures that have been put in place. Some threats to defend against include DDoS (distributed denial of service) or APTs (advanced persistent threats). Your ISP works in an environment that is constantly under threat, and as such, they should be able to articulate the security measures they take for themselves, as well as for you. As they often say in Security, it’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”.

Cost Efficacy
In business, we all have our own bottom lines and budgets to adhere to. Plans with comprehensive service offerings could cost more, but might ultimately be a fair trade-off if you are not tech-savvy. Rather than risk the entire system by misconfiguration, the additional costs might end up an investment or warranty, and you may be reassured that your connectivity will not be compromised with a trusted partner.

Other costs to take into account include setup cost and maintenance cost. Many ISPs are moving towards a OPEX pricing model (operating expenditure) which operates on a subscription basis instead of one-time payments in order to reduce the upfront costs for the business. OPEX pricing also means that businesses have more flexibility in choosing plans and is fast becoming a popular option for startups and SMEs.

Other Technical Services
ISPs can sometimes also come with other technical services that they offer in-house. Some of them include systems integration, cloud hosting, data centres, managed network in addition to quality, high-speed internet services. Putting all of your technical services under one account allows you to offload management to a professional, freeing up your time and reducing your labour costs.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to your preferences and business needs. Are you tech-savvy enough to assemble your own hardware, or would you prefer to leave it to a professional? Do you feel more reassured having a dedicated account manager assigned to you, or do you prefer to make do with helplines and email support? With so many players in the market, the differentiation is often how well an ISP can meet your business’ unique needs. Choose wisely!


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