How to choose an internet service provider
- 1 Establish whether you want a connection for a computer or your entire network. You may need a faster connection if it is to be shared.
- 2 Evaluate how much data you need to upload. Cloud computing and remote access services often require good upload speeds, but cheaper connections are designed mainly for downloads.
- 3 Determine what type of connection you require: standard broadband or a faster fibre optic connection (if available near you). If fibre is available, it’s a much quicker, more reliable option.
- 4 Steer clear of rock-bottom packages. These are rarely a good deal for business purposes, as they have strict speed and download limits and limited flexibility.
- 5 Decide whether to get a business package. These usually provide a higher level of service than consumer packages and are the better option for all but the smallest companies.
- 6 Check providers and connection options in your area. You can use a website like Think Broadband to see what’s available to you.
- 7 Consider how your internet needs may change in future. For instance, if your company grows, you may need to upgrade to a faster connection.
- 8 Investigate ISPs' reputations for speed and reliability. Read reviews online from sites like Broadband Choices.
- 9 Compare the cost of different packages. Many ISPs offer introductory deals, so check what their prices will rise to. Watch for extra charges for things like line rental, too.
- 10 Check the contract carefully. A year’s contract is common, but some providers will sign you up for 18 months. Make sure you can upgrade during this period if you think your requirements will change.
- 11 Decide whether you need a service level agreement (SLA). This guarantees you a certain level of broadband reliability. Packages with an SLA usually cost more, but provide greater reliability.
- 12 Check what support you will get. Most ISPs offer telephone support, but the quality can vary.
- 13 Check what security measures they provide to protect your company from viruses, emails and hacking. Some packages come with free security software.
- 14 Get ISP recommendations from your IT supplier, advisers and contacts. Broadband performance sometimes varies by area, so it can be a good idea to check with businesses nearby.
- look at your requirements before considering suppliers
- choose an ISP likely to meet your future needs
- assess costs based on how you will use the internet
- consider paying extra for fibre, if available
- assume all ISPs offer good service
- cut corners by buying a rock-bottom package