The Internet is critical to the operations of many businesses. Customers reach out to you online with their questions and employees need to communicate with people both near and far. Then there’s all the sales and marketing work that is done digitally. If your Internet is slow or unreliable, it can cause major problems for your business.
That’s why choosing the right plan is so important. However, it can be difficult to choose the right Internet service provider and plan. There seem to endless choices, confusing contracts and lots of fine print. Then there’s the fact that many plans get mixed reviews. Whether you are opening your first office or considering switching from the plan you’ve had for years, this guide is for you. It will help you to identify some of the most important things you need to keep in mind.
Determine How Fast You Need Your Internet to Be
Many businesses overestimate or underestimate the speeds they need. However, you need to be clear about exactly what you need from your Internet plan. Even if a service provider is advertising nationwide coverage and lots of freebies, if the speeds aren’t fast enough for you, it doesn’t make sense to do business with them.
To determine how much speed you need, you need to think about how you’ll be using the Internet at peak times. While you may be able to get by with slower speeds sometimes, you will want fast Wi-Fi when all your employees are logged on and you need to make a big presentation to a client. Get the speeds you need for that occasion.
If you have a very small business and you only use the Internet for checking email and browsing the web, 1 to 5 Mbps may be enough. However, if you need to stream HD content, you need a minimum of 15 to 25 Mbps. Depending on the industry you’re in, you may actually need to stream 4K content and download large files. If so, you need at least 200 Mbps. Furthermore, if smart devices including security cameras will be using the same connection, you also need to take this into consideration. These need to upload data on a continuous basis so they need lots of bandwidth.
Measure Your Current Speeds
If you already have an Internet plan, you need to test it to see how it matches up to what you really need. Since you’re considering switching plans or providers, you’re probably dissatisfied with some aspect of your current plan. Maybe it’s too costly, too slow or it drops out completely at times. Whatever the case, you need to run a speed test on your network, so you know how it measures up. You can then use these upload and download speeds as a benchmark when comparing the plans which are available.
To get the most accurate results:
- Use a wired connection and minimize interference from other electronic devices
- Move away from cordless phones or microwaves and disconnect any other devices from the network
- Make sure your computer isn’t downloading anything in the background or being used for any purpose other than the speed test. You want your bandwidth usage to be as close to zero as possible.
You’re unlikely to get the top speed your ISP says is possible but it should be pretty close. If the connection is considerably slower, you need to probe deeper. The problem could be due to your equipment or an issue on the ISP’s end.
Find Internet Service Providers in Your Area and Compare Plans
Now that you know what you’re looking for, you can begin looking to see which ISPs offer coverage in your area. This will begin to narrow down your options. You can then see which prices, speeds, and packages are available for your location. You may not be eligible for every offer you see online. Most ISPs have an online facility which allows you to enter your zip code and find out if service is available in your area.
You can then call or go into an outlet to find out which plans you’re eligible for. Make sure you do your due diligence if you sign up for a plan under a special promotion. Find out if price increases substantially after a few months or if you’re locked into a contract for a really long period.
Another thing you need to consider is the type of Internet being offered. Cable is a solid option but if fiber optic Internet is available in your location, you should consider it. Fiber optics are more secure than copper wiring and not easily affected by weather. You can also opt for a DSL connection which gives you the option of choosing among varying speeds. The ISP will take your current needs and your plans for growth into consideration when recommending a plan.
There are several other extras you can consider. For example, you can find out if you can get a bundled deal on telephone service or television for your business. Ask about the availability of static IP addresses, port access and third-party apps and software which may benefit your business. You should also inquire about what support is given to business customers and if you’ll be compensated for downtime.
Choosing an Internet plan for your business can be overwhelming. However, the process becomes simpler when you know exactly what you’re looking for. It all starts with measuring your current speeds and determining the maximum bandwidth you’re likely to need in the future. Then, you just need to compare what the different ISPs are offering in your area.
Emily Jacobs is Happiness Ambassador for SpeedCheck.org
She loves to write latest technology trends and love to share her knowledge through her articles.