Considerations when selecting an Internet Service Provider

There are many factors, unique to your organization, to consider when selecting an Internet service provider (ISP). To begin, you need to have an understanding of what your organization requires from its Internet connection in order to be successful. The questions below are intended to help you evaluate your needs.

1. Consider your Service Requirements

·         How reliant is your organization’s operations on Internet connectivity?

·         Do you need a back-up Internet connection (redundancy) in case your primary connection goes down?

·         What are your bandwidth requirements? (Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time).

·         What role could technology and network connectivity play in your organization’s future?

·         Will the service offered by a particular provider meet your needs now, and be scalable to grow with you in the future?

2. Availability

How reliable do you need the service to be?
Does your business require a backup connection (wireless or fibre)?


3. Speed of connection required

Connection speed refers to the data transfer rate and latency, and it can vary greatly depending on the type of connection. If you’re using cloud based applications or services, latency can be the key that makes them work or not work. Different types of connections offer different latency.

Do you require a high speed connection? For example, if your organization’s application are web-based or hosted in the cloud, or you have a VoIP phone system, you will have higher usage, which affects your speed and connection needs.
 

4. Cost

How much you pay for your service directly relates to how reliant your organization’s operation is on Internet connectivity. If your organization’s growth is tied to connectivity, your budget should reflect that.

Services will vary in costs, depending on a number of factors. For instance, high availability services will cost more that low availability services, and higher speed services will cost more as well.

·         What is your organization’s budget for Internet connectivity?    

5. Customer Support

Consider what sort of support you need from your Internet service provider. If your organization operates 24/7, your support needs will differ from if you operate only on standard business hours.   

Do you require 24/7 access to technical support, or is business hour support sufficient?
 

6. Security

·         What level of security do you need?

·         What network security features would help you sleep at night?

·         What network security features do you expect from a provider?

7. Type of Connection

There are several types of Internet connections available, including:

Cable: Cable Internet access is a form of broadband Internet access which uses the same infrastructure as a cable television. Cable Internet is prominent in residential connections.
Dial-up: Dial-up Internet access uses the telephone network infrastructure, as well as modems and servers, to connect to an Internet service provider.
DSL: DSL stands for digital subscriber line; it is a type of high speed Internet connection which uses the same wires as a regular telephone line.
Fibre optic: Fibre optic is an Internet connection in which data is delivered via light signals over small, flexible glass wires which are located in a larger, protective cable.
Satellite: A Satellite connection provides Internet access through communications satellites. Satellite connections provide fixed, portable, and mobile Internet access.
Microwave: A microwave Internet connection starts with a fibre connection and then uses a high capacity microwave radio link for the last mile connection.
 

Choosing an ISP

Now that you have an idea of your organization’s requirements, here are some sample questions to ask to/about your potential Internet service provider:

Service Requirements

·         What bandwidth is available?

·         In there an opportunity to scale the service if your organization’s growth requires it?

Availability

·         What availability does the provider guarantee in their SLA (service level agreement)?

·         Does the provider have a reputation for providing uninterrupted service?

Speed of the Connection

·         Will the provider’s speed meet your needs? 

You might save money with some connections, however the latency level may not be what you need for your applications to work.

·         Are there times of the day where the provider’s network becomes slower? 

Cost

·         What is the one time installation fee?

·         Are IP addresses included, or are they an extra charge?

·         Is technical support included in the monthly fee? If not, how is it charged?

Customer Support

·         What is the provider’s customer service reputation?

·         Does the provider offer 24/7 support, or is it limited to business hours?

Security

·         What factors could affect the providers’ security and put your organization at risk? 

Type of Connection

Check with the Internet Service Provider to see which type of connections they offer, and the pros and cons of each option. Ask the provider what type of connection they recommend for your organization.