Internet access is now essential for any business to succeed in 21st century commerce, but even more so for small businesses. The “Mom and Pop” stores that once thrived on local patronage are now being bested by stores that offer greater selection, lower prices, and fast shipping. But those same businesses can find their niche online. But not all Internet service providers are created equal, and each provider offers a variety of services.
For those shopping for an Internet service provider, there are a few key factors to consider, and a few places to start looking for the best deals.
Small Businesses Compare the Packages
If you are preparing to have landline phone service installed in your place of business, the sales personnel may have tried to sell you a package including Internet access. While it can be convenient to have your communications services with a single company, your phone company may not offer the best pricing or service package for you.
Keep them in mind, however, for comparison shopping. Check with your local cable providers for Internet service packages, and compare them to those offered by the phone company.
When examining service packages that Internet service providers offer, you'll want to consider the type and speed of Internet access it offers, and any related services in the package, such as email services or website hosting.
Free email services are widely available, and the inclusion of email service shouldn't sway your decision unless you can get an email attached to your own domain name. If you are a website design novice, a website hosting service with user-friendly design tools may serve you well.
Internet Provider Speed
The speed of your Internet connection is also a key factor; when an important deadline is approaching, or a major event requires a prompt response, the speed of your Internet connection can mean being able to make the appropriate changes to your website or respond to or make urgent requests in time.
Fiber-optic lines provide the fastest Internet connections, allowing you to quickly download large files and allow all your employees to use the Internet for all their business communication needs. It's also the priciest. DSL is a popular option, using landline phones in a way that still allows you to make calls, unlike old-fashioned dial-up Internet.
Your speed varies depending on how close you are to the service provider's exchange. Cable Internet access does not require a phone line, but as it's a popular option with business and residential customers, access can slow down in peak usage periods.
Choosing an Internet service provider (read more here) is an important business decision. Do your research, comparison shop, and get a contract that allows you an out if the service cannot meet your needs. The right Internet service provider can put your business on the map.
Do you have a small business and which internet provider do you use and why?