In today's business environment, the Internet is crucial to your day-to-day operations. A reliable, fast, secure connection is a must-have. That's why it's important to take a careful approach when evaluating a new Internet Service Provider (ISP). We created this list of 4 questions to ask your Internet Service Provider to help you vet your options.
What written Service Level Agreement (SLA) do they offer?
I believe this is most important aspect of any service that a customer pays for. A customer needs to know in writing the scope of service for what they are paying for. Many times promises can be made by providers vocally but not in writing. The term “best effort” is thrown around a lot in the industry and essential mean that they will do everything they can to ensure their services are online 99.9% or 100% of the time, however they do not make any specific guarantees in writing. In the case of your internet service provider, the customer needs to know exactly what level of service is guaranteed in writing. This is a value driven question that asks, “Will the ISP being paying me for the downtime they are responsible for?” If the answer is no, then you are looking at a “best effort” SLA.
How long have they been in the area?
This one is an important question to ask if the ISP is new to an area. Building a network and laying lines is time consuming and costly process. If the ISP is unable to support and maintain its newly positioned network it may have to sell or lease its lines out to a competitor. As a well established local business owner, you want to be sure that you ISP is going to be invested in you and your community. If they divest from their network it could leave you with an unknown service provider. This could potential leave you in hot water with long service contracts.
How long is my contract?
Technology is changing rapidly and so are business technology needs. Being locked into a contract over 3 years can potentially hinder business growth and ability to adapt to more efficient technologies. Also if the ISP leaves or divests in its network, then you as the customer may be stuck with questionable service and an unknown provider for the remainder of the contract.
Is my connection dedicated or shared?
The differences in the dedicated and shared internet are just like they sound. Dedicated is a dedicated internet access with line direct to your building. You will be guaranteed the bandwidth that you are paying for. Shared on the other hand is a connection that is shared with surrounding businesses. This will, in turn, cause slower speeds during peak usage times for your business. Internet data requirements are increasing with business moving a majority of their IT infrastructure to cloud data centers. The benefits of increased bandwidth and reliable Internet access is no longer a nice to have but now becoming a need to have to maintain a competitive edge.
Today's market is providing more and more options for business internet service. It is important to have a trusted IT advisor to help you vet and decide what service is best for your business. If you have more questions about internet service for your business please feel free to contact us at 229-671-1513.