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7 Questions to Ask a New Internet Service Provider

7 Questions to Ask a New Internet Service Provider
November 12, 2020 Peter Billig
People around a computer

A list of best practice questions companies should ask future new ISPs

As a small business owner or office manager, the speed, reliability and cost of your internet service is something that you take seriously. Slow speeds, insufficient bandwidth, and outages can cost your business time and money. As IT Support specialists, we regularly help our clients negotiate the terms and conditions of their relationships with Internet Service Providers. Here is a list of 7 questions every company should ask before switching to a new Internet Service Provider (ISP) to make sure you get the best possible services for your business needs.

What is the download speed?

Many Internet Service Providers offer different download speeds at different price points. Download speeds can range anywhere from 25 mbps to 1gbps or higher. The more people in your office that use your internet connection, and the more bandwidth intensive their work,  the more download speed you’re going to need. While a 100mbps cable connection may be sufficient for 2-3 people in one office. look for no less than 500-1000mbps on a cable connection download speed for offices with 30+ people heavily using the internet throughout the day.  IF you are using fiber, speeds will be lower, but symmetrical (see below).

What is the upload speed?

Did you know your download speed and your upload speed are not necessarily the same amount? Having sufficient upload speed is particularly important for companies that are sending large files to clients or uploading photo/video/audio content to the cloud or social media. There are two types of internet connections offered by modern service providers; symmetrical and asymmetrical. Popular business internet cable providers often provide fast download speeds, but slow upload speeds. When the upload speed is different than the download speed it’s called an asymmetrical internet service. Asymmetric service is typically less expensive and offers great value to clients that don’t need the faster upload speed. Symmetric connections provide equal upload and download speeds and are typically available through fiber connections.

What is the uptime guarantee?

Having a reliable connection is essential for small business owners. When the internet goes down in your office, it costs your company time and money. Before you hire a new Internet Service Provider ask if they have an uptime guarantee or an SLA (Service Level Agreement). Standard business cable connections often provide 24/7 support but do NOT offer any type of minimum SLA. Most fiber connections and higher-end services are going to provide a 99.9% uptime guarantee.  Offering an uptime guarantee speaks to the level of commitment towards reliability you can anticipate from that provider.

What kind of network equipment is included?

Most internet service providers are going to offer basic level equipment that is not always acceptable for a small or medium sized business to run their network. For our clients, we will typically just use the modem capabilities of the service provider equipment that just deliver the internet, and install more reliable and capable business level equipment for Wifi, routing and networking. Some premium level Internet services, like Fiber, will come with higher end wifi and routing equipment that works well and does not always need to be purchased separately.

What is the duration of the contract agreement?

Internet service providers often offer lower prices in conjunction with a multi-year agreement, but this isn’t always a great deal for business owners who may need to move offices or upgrade services within the contract duration. Ask your new ISP if you can transfer services to a new office location within the contract duration. In today’s modern business atmosphere the technology is changing so frequently that often you can get a better deal with the same (or a different provider) within a year and being locked into a multi-year agreement can actually be a disadvantage.

Are there any installation charges?

Is your office building already connected to cable or fiber internet? If not, some internet service providers will pay to outfit your building, others won’t. Ask your internet service provider what the associated costs will be to get service setup in your location.

What is the lead time to get this service hooked up?

Most business cable services can get your new internet service up and running right away, but other services (such as fiber) can take months to install and implement. If you need to have fiber lines run all the way to your building this can take as much as  3 months. If you have plenty of lead time before you need service, this isn’t a problem, but if you need your internet up and running right away, you may have fewer options. 

Already a True North IT client? Ask a member of our IT Support staff to review the details of your new ISP agreement before you sign and move forward. We’ll make sure you have all of the necessary bandwidth to service your clients and top of the line business-grade network equipment that you can count on!


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