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Navigating Business Internet Providers: How to Make the Smartest Choice

26/3/2024
|
7
min read
Back to blogs
Educational

Navigating Business Internet Providers: How to Make the Smartest Choice

26/3/2024
|
7
min read

Navigating Business Internet Providers: How to Make the Smartest Choice

Internet connectivity is the lifeblood of businesses, powering operations, communication, and growth.  

In this guide, we'll explore key factors—network, service, and people—to consider when selecting the ideal business internet provider to keep you connected and thriving.  

You should ask these questions to assess whether you're getting what you need from your current provider or ensure you pick the right one.

Network

What infrastructure do they use?

When exploring business Internet Service Provider (ISP) options, it's crucial to distinguish between providers utilising state-of-the-art infrastructure and those relying on legacy networks.  

The network build is the foundation of your internet connection, determining the reliability and performance of your business' online operations—now and in the future.  

However, you may not realise that many internet providers resell legacy Openreach infrastructure.  

ISPs that build their own networks are more likely to have modern infrastructure that can accommodate the growing data demands that every business is experiencing.

Fibre optic networks offer higher speeds, lower latency, and increased reliability compared to traditional copper-based systems. Choose an internet provider that uses the latest technology available to ensure they will provide the data-intensive connectivity you’ll need now and in the future.

What speed do you need?

In today’s business landscape, having abundant internet is non-negotiable. You shouldn’t have to think about speed and capacity, as they are fundamental to everyday business—whether you’re a large corporation or small business.

Bandwidth (or lack thereof) can be the difference between making a landmark deal or dropping a business-critical call.  

Consider how much bandwidth your business needs to operate seamlessly now. Then, consider what it will need in five years, taking into account that data requirements are growing exponentially.

Next, compare the upload and download speeds offered by different ISPs. Pay attention to whether their service is contended, meaning the line is shared. You want to ensure that the speeds advertised are what you will actually get so there are no dips in service when your data needs peak (when many people are in the office at once, for example).

Many businesses are transitioning to 10Gbps internet (or above) as a strategic investment, enabling them to handle large data volumes and adopt advanced applications. Some networks are even 100Gbps capable.

The bottom line is that you should never even come close to outgrowing your digital capabilities. Consider the trifecta of speed, capacity, and scalability to make an informed decision that aligns with your business goals.

Can you rely on them?

Every minute of interrupted connectivity can result in financial losses, missed opportunities, and frustrated clients.  

Reduce the risk of downtime by assessing business ISPs on their reliability. Compare their Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which set the expectations for uptime, response time, and issue resolution. A robust SLA indicates how confident the ISP is with their network and ensures your business has a safety net.  

You should also look out for ISPs that use diverse lines. This is when they install backup routes that will be unaffected if the primary connections go down. The data can, therefore, travel down a separate route whilst they fix the connection on the other line.

Be thorough in your research to ensure you minimise financial losses, decreased productivity, and customer and employee frustration.  

Are they dedicated to businesses?

Providers dedicated exclusively to businesses have an in-depth understanding of the distinct needs and challenges businesses face.

Unlike providers serving residential and business customers, business-only specialists have exclusive infrastructure for their business clients. This minimises the risk of congestion and ensures a more reliable and consistent internet connection.

These ISPs are well-versed in the essential features that matter to enterprises. Whether it's advanced security protocols, reliable connectivity, or specific bandwidth requirements, they prioritise features that contribute to the success of businesses.

They are also more likely to offer tailored solutions that align with the specific requirements of businesses, from custom packages to scalable plans.

Service

How smooth is the on-boarding process?

The installation process for your business internet should be seamless and designed to minimise disruptions.  

Whether transitioning from a previous provider or setting up a new connection, a quick and easy installation process reduces downtime for your business.

Ask about timelines and check customer reviews to assess the level of support you will receive during the onboarding process. A provider prioritising a smooth experience demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction, setting the tone for a productive and lasting partnership.

Vertically integrated ISPs, who do everything in house, will be more efficient in delivering your connection. From the Installation Technician who surveys your building to the Wayleave Officer managing the legal component, the fibre delivery journey will be drastically better than industry norms.

How clear is the contract?

Transparency in pricing and contracts is paramount. The last thing you want is to discover hidden costs or navigate through convoluted terms that can impact your budget and flexibility.

Signs of a transparent provider include a clear pricing breakdown, open communication, flexible contract options, and no hidden clauses. This allows you to assess the overall cost-effectiveness of your chosen plan.

Here are some questions to ask:

What is the contract duration?

You should look for providers with contracts that give you the flexibility to adapt to changing business needs, whether you need to scale up your services or adjust.

A clear and concise contract eliminates confusion and ensures that both parties are on the same page regarding the service’s duration, terms, and conditions.

Is the pricing straightforward?

A transparent pricing structure lets you accurately plan your budget and effectively allocate resources.

Unpublished prices indicate that they could inflate pricing on a case-by-case basis. All charges should be clear upfront, helping you avoid unexpected fees emerging during your contract.

Does the SLA include fair compensation measures for downtime?

Green flags include a clear definition of what constitutes downtime, a transparent compensation structure, automatic compensation, and proactive communication if an issue arises.  

People

Do they get to know their customers?

We’re in a digital world, but businesses prioritising strong customer relationships still reign supreme. Your ISP should take the time to get to know the specific needs of your business and engage in proactive communication, whether it's informing you about potential maintenance or updating you on service improvements.

Assess potential ISPs on their available customer support channels and browse customer testimonials and reviews to gauge how much they prioritise customer relationships.

Think about it this way—would you prefer ringing a call centre or a dedicated account manager? Having a single point of contact who works in-house will give you tailored support and take much of the frustration out of issue resolution. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’ll be passed from person to person.  

What does the company stand for?

The team behind the scenes can tell you a lot about an ISP. The composition and mindset of the team play a crucial role in delivering innovative solutions that meet diverse business needs.  

A provider that values diversity is better equipped to understand and cater to the unique requirements of businesses. Embracing diversity in their team often translates to offering versatile solutions that consider various business needs. Look for a provider committed to fostering an inclusive environment, ensuring their team reflects various perspectives and experiences.

Also, consider whether they prioritise training and development for their team. A workforce continuously enhancing their skills is better positioned to offer optimal support and guidance.  

Finally, assess their mindset when it comes to innovation. A youthful and fresh approach indicates a commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements. A provider with a forward-thinking mindset is more likely to adopt cutting-edge technologies and services, offering your business the benefits of the latest innovations in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

These insights will help you get below the surface when choosing a business ISP because this is about more than connectivity. Your company should thrive in the modern data-driven landscape; if it does not, it will swiftly fall behind.  

Finding a provider that aligns with your goals, empowers your team, and propels your business into a future where connectivity is seamless, reliable, and abundant will make all the difference.

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