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How to Select the Right Internet Access Provider

Today in this technology and the internet savvy world you may find out that you will have multiple choices of Internet Access Providers to choose from. As technology and competition evolve, it is important to stay up to date with options and trends. For businesses, this may be a very important decision because today many businesses depend on internet access for communications and it can be quite a challenge when deciding which Internet provider offers the best Internet service needed for your operations.

Although you can easily shop around online, how do you know for sure you are choosing the right Internet service provider? Do they have a professional technical support team? Will they respond promptly when problems arise with your Internet service? These are important questions to ask when searching for a local Internet service. If you’re searching for the right Internet service provider, here are some important points to consider.

Step 1 – Find out who the local Providers are.

You can find a local internet service provider for your home or business by asking family members, neighbors or by searching online. The key is finding a reliable service provider. If you search online, you can browse through your local Internet provider’s website and see what type of Internet service they offer. If they are local they are more likely to have an increase in support personnel and will more likely be able to respond to issues if they arise much quicker.

 

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Step 2 – Determine their Network Access Ability.

Before choosing an Internet provider, make sure you ask about their Network Access Ability. Do they offer Cable, DSL, T1, T3, Ethernet or Fiber Optics? Here’s a quick description of each.

Cable or DSL: A high-speed Internet service that operates over telephone lines or cable service. Typically lower cost and reasonable download speeds, however, is more suited towards residential customers who mostly download and can be limiting when trying to upload. Upload speeds or sending information will be limited depending on the connection method and distance from the ISP’s POP (point of presence). DSL is distance sensitive, so the further you are away from the ISP’s POP the slower the DSL speed will be. Cable and DSL are not available in all areas and certain areas can have patchy speeds and performance so you should ask around for recommendations. Cable & DSL require basic configuration and typically includes hardware/routers which can also be purchase from $50 or more at a local computer store. Cable & DSL commonly come with a dynamic IP (not static) so if you require a static IP, you may be required to purchase them. At this time, DSL & Cable do not carry guarantees so you have to cross your fingers with the performance and uptime.

T1: Commonly used by USA businesses. T1 provides businesses with a very dependable phone line and/or Internet connection. It is a dedicated connection between your business and the ISP’s nearest POP (point of presence) and is not shared by anyone else. It carries much faster up/down speeds starting at 1.544Mbps and can be bonded with another T1’s to provide more uptime with speeds up to 10Mbps or if voice 24 trunks for each T1. One major benefit of T1 is that it carries a guaranteed quality, upload and download speed through what is called an SLA (Service Level Agreement). Equipment is typically provided, however, you should confirm this as because of the higher throughput speeds T1 requires higher performing routers and configuration and T1 routers run from $800+. T1 includes static IP’s; however, some provider’s charge for additional static IP’s so factor this into the cost of the T1 when making a decision. T1 is available in all areas and costs run from $250-$800+ for monthly service on each T1 depending on the circuit speed and geographical location.

T3: Commonly used by USA businesses. T1 provides businesses with a very dependable phone line and/or Internet connection. It is a dedicated connection between your business and the ISP’s nearest POP (point of presence) and is not shared by anyone else. It carries much faster up/down speeds starting at 1.544Mbps and can be bonded with other T1’s to provide more uptime with speeds up to 10Mbps or if voice 24 trunks for each T1. One major benefit of T1 is that it carries a guarantee quality, upload and download speed through what is called an SLA (Service Level Agreement). Equipment is typically provided, however, you should confirm this as because of the higher throughput speeds T1 requires higher performing routers and configuration and T1 routers run from $800+. T1 includes static IP’s; however, some provider’s charge for additional static IP’s so factor this into the cost of the T1 when making a decision. T1 is available in all areas and costs run from $250-$800+ for monthly service on each T1 depending on the circuit speed and geographical location.

Ethernet Internet: This type of network access utilizes Ethernet LAN cards off the ISP’s POP switch. The cards have sped up to 100 Mbps. However, the speed is determined by network type and distance from the ISP’s Ethernet equipment. Speeds for businesses start at 3Mbps up to 100Mbps. The fastest Ethernet reaches Gbps. In speed, one Gbps is equal to 1000 Mbps. Ethernet Internet is not available in all area’s as it requires a central office/POP to be Ethernet-equipped. Like T1 & T3, Ethernet guarantees quality, upload and download performance through what is called an SLA (Service Level Agreement) and includes static IP’s. Providers may charge for additional static IP’s and hardware. You should consult your provider as the hardware as this can be very costly from $5000+ due to the higher throughput and performance requirements. Costs for Ethernet Internet run from $400 for monthly service and up depending on speed, delivery type (EOC, Cat5, Cat6, and Fiber) and distance from the ISP’s equipment.

Fiber Optic: This consists of plastic or glass threads to transmit information (data). Information is transmitted digitally and has a much higher bandwidth capacity which is virtually unlimited when comparing to metal cables. Fiber optics uses newer technology and must be installed by specialist technicians as bad connections will result in dropped packets (packet loss) and slower bandwidth speeds due to installation errors. Fiber Optics is not available in all areas as it requires costly fiber installations, permits, and equipment. Like T1 & T3 & Ethernet, Fiber guarantees quality, upload and download performance through what is called an SLA (Service Level Agreement) and includes static IP’s. Providers may charge for additional static IP’s and hardware. You should consult your provider as the hardware as this can be very costly from $10000+ due to the higher throughput and performance requirements. Costs for business Fiber Internet run from $100+ for monthly service and up depending on speed, carrier and distance from providers POP.

Step 3 – Check the Providers SLA’s (Service Level Agreements).

A quality Internet Service Provider should be able to provide customers with a high level of performance and reliability. If you are looking for a reliable and fast internet connection it is a good idea to make it mandatory to require an SLA and avoid any company that does not offer an industry standard SLA because you could run the risk of experiencing slow speeds and frequent outages. These day’s businesses rely heavily on the internet for productivity and communications to sustain business and having downtime can cost you money.

Step 4 – Check to See If They Provide Online Tools.
As more people are working and using the Internet, companies are now utilizing online tools to measure the internet performance. Any legitimate Internet provider will use the Internet to help the consumer communicate with the provider and offer technology to help the user receive everything they can out of the service they provide. Common online tools are performance monitoring, web statistics, network ping systems, online ticketing systems and other network or web statistics.

Step 5 – Beware of Low Pricing.

Often times many upstart Internet service providers will offer lower pricing than your local Internet provider. Unfortunately, many of these fly-by-night competitors have folded due to bad business practices. Remember, just because an Internet provider advertises the cheapest prices in the industry doesn’t mean they provide the best value. Many people have been swindled over short-term bargains. The unfortunate consumer discovers few months down the line that their Internet service actually cost them more money. It is better to choose a provider who has been in business for 5+ years, has a good and diverse list of customers and offers competitive rates. At least you’re guaranteed quality Internet service.

Step 6 – Check their References.

Verify the Internet provider’s references before making a commitment. A legitimate service provider will have no problem offering their references to new customers. You can take it one step further and check the Better Business Bureau online to see if the company has any unresolved complaints from unsatisfied customers. You can also do a quick Google search of the Internet provider and see if there are any customer complaints or negative reviews posted on the web.

Step 7 – Find out if they Offer Professional Customer Support?

Technical problems with an Internet service happen. Regardless of whether you have DSL, T1, T3, Ethernet or Fiber Optics, at some point in time you may be required to contact technical support. An Internet service provider should be able to offer their customers quality technical support for free. In addition, a provider should be able to offer their customers free email accounts as well. Every Internet provider should offer their customers a well-trained team of customer support representatives who are qualified to support the services the providers provide.

Step 8 – Find out if they Provide Discounts and Special Promotions?

One benefit of being a new subscriber is that many local Internet access providers offer special promotions and discounts for first-time subscribers. Choose a couple of local Internet providers and compare the services they offer and see if they match your needs. Then compare their rates before making a final decision.

In conclusion, a company that values their customers values their employees as well. They will provide their employees with proper training in order to handle customer inquiries in a professional manner. When searching for an Internet access provider, a good way to tell if you are choosing the right Internet company is to see if you have a good rapport with the representative when you first contact the company by phone.

The representative should not only be polite, they should also be able to answer your questions in a clear and concise manner. A sales team that is only interested in your sale and not willing to answer any of your questions in a polite and professional manner is an Internet service provider you should stay far away from.

About sujoydhar

Sujoy Dhar is a business and technology and blogger. He is driven by the need to be creative and says that writing for various web properties allows him to stay up to date on one of the most rapidly evolving industries around. Each day provides Dhar with a new opportunity to educate readers about tech news and advances that help change the world for the better.

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