You’ve launched a new business and you need to get an Internet connection. Many modern businesses rely heavily on the Internet so you’ll want to make sure your plan meets your needs. The options available to you will depend on which Internet service providers offer coverage in your area and the types of connections they deliver.
Typically, if you live in a big city, you’ll have faster Internet and more types of connections to choose from than if you live in a rural area. If you’re moving into a space which is already Internet-equipped, you should run a series of speed tests. This will help you to get an idea of whether the current set-up would be adequate for you and if there are any particular challenges in your location.
Types of Internet Connections
Faster connections typically cost more so if you don’t need much speed, you can save money in this area. The five most common Internet connections are:
- Dial-up – Believe it or not, this is not a thing of the past. There are still millions of Americans using dial-up service, especially in rural areas. It’s a slow connection, but it’s cheap. While it may be sufficient for some home users, it will not be suitable for most businesses in 2018. However, it may suffice if you only need to check the occasional email or do simple web browsing.
- DSL – When it was first introduced, Digital Subscriber Line Internet access was a big improvement on dial-up. It is now considered an average option but for a small business with moderate connectivity needs, it can prove adequate. It is relatively cheap.
- Cable – Cable Internet isn’t the best but you can still get speeds up to 100 Mbps. However, if lots of businesses or households nearby are also connected, speeds may be slower.
- Fiber – Fiber optic Internet is the fastest connection today. Unfortunately, it is only available in about half of the US and it can be expensive. However, if you’re in an online-intensive industry and fiber is available in your area, you should consider it.
- Satellite – A satellite connection will give you similar speeds to DSL but it is less reliable. However, it is available in remote rural areas which don’t have other types of connections. Satellite Internet can be pricey.
How Much Internet Speed Does Your Business Require?
Your business may be small with just a few employees but if you need to upload or download large files or you rely heavily on video conferencing, you will need high-speed Internet. However, if you only need to send a few emails and do light online research, it would be a waste of money to invest in high speeds. If your needs change later, you can always upgrade. Here’s a general guide to the Internet speeds you may need for your business.
- Operations with one or two employees who do very little work online and only browse the web or check email can function adequately with just 15 to 25 Mbps.
- Businesses with about five workers which conduct point of sale transactions, transfer large files and rely on the Internet for their communication needs will need speeds in the range of 25 to 50 Mbps.
- Teams with more than five but fewer than ten employees connected to the network will have a smoother experience with 50 to 75 Mbps. This allows for more stable connections and file transfers.
- Businesses which focus heavily on graphics, video or audio will need speeds somewhere in the 70 to 150 Mbps range. E-commerce companies or those which are rapidly expanding their employee numbers would also benefit from more capacity.
How to Choose an Internet Service Provider
Once you have an idea of the speeds you will need, you can use a site like BroadbandNow or InMyArea to find internet service providers who offer coverage in your area. Take the time to research them and compare their product offering and pricing. If you have a choice of providers, there are some questions you should ask before you commit. You should query:
- The availability of tech support. Regardless of the provider you choose, things won’t work perfectly all the time. You should ask if there is 24/7 tech support. If you do business across varying time zones, you may be working when everyone else in your area is sleeping. If you can, it would be best to choose an ISP who will have assistance available around the clock. Even if no one can visit your home, there may be a live chat service where an employee can help you to troubleshoot.
- The possibility of caps on your data usage. Some providers cap your data or high-speed bandwidth and then charge you more if you go over that limit. This is not common with business plans but it can happen. Check with your potential ISP to see if this is a possibility.
- The length of your contract. You need to know how long you will have to stay with a particular ISP. Longer contracts typically come with a lower monthly fee. However, you may want to opt out early if your needs change or a new provider comes into your area offering a better plan. Find out what the penalties are if you choose to terminate your contract early.
- The likelihood of downtime. Most ISPs will tell you that their service is more reliable than their competitors’. However, they all have downtime at some point. Ask them to share their percentage of yearly uptime with you and find out how you will be compensated if there is significant service disruption. Discounts, credits and even penalty-free early termination of your contract are options depending on the severity of the problem.
If you have lots of Internet Service Providers in your location and they offer plans at varying price points, you will not find it difficult to find the right Internet plan for your business. However, if you’re in a remote area with limited choices, you may end up paying more for speeds that aren’t super-fast. That’s why it’s important to do your research before you commit to a provider or a plan.
Emily Jacobs is Happiness Ambassador for SpeedCheck.org
She loves to write latest technology trends and love to share her knowledge through her articles.