Today, businesses depend more than ever on fast and reliable internet connections. But choosing the right internet service for your business requires careful consideration. Not all internet connections are created equal, and not all internet service providers offer the same level of service. Before choosing any internet service provider for your small business, it is important to arm yourself with a little useful information.
Types of Internet Connections
There are three basic internet connections available for business class service. Dial-up can be discounted out of hand, as it is fast becoming a thing of the past, and was never really adequate for business use.
DSL is the most common type of internet connection, and is generally the least expensive. DSL services employ traditional telephone lines, and can offer a speed capacity of up to 40 Mbps for both download and upload on ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line). DSL is the primary choice for small businesses with no more than a dozen employees accessing the internet at any given time. A typical DSL connection is also well suited for businesses with active point of sale systems. DSL installation is routine, and requires little in the way of additional hardware which helps to keep it affordable for smaller enterprises.
Cable is the second most popular form of internet connection for both residential and commercial use. The technology utilizes standard television cable lines, and can offer download speeds in excess of 50 Mbps. Cable also offers businesses the ability to combine both voice and data transfer on one connection, making it perfect for offices with multiple employees accessing the internet, and operating a call center. Cable internet is slightly more expensive than standard DSL, but the cost difference is reflected in the increased capacity and added flexibility.
For years, Fiber Optic connections have been used by telecommunication companies as the backbone of their infrastructure. Recently, internet service providers have begun to extend this type of connection to their larger clients. Fiber Optic offers download speeds ranging 150 Mbps and higher. A fiber optic connection offers exceptional bandwidth, and can easily provide simultaneous video, voice and data service for multiple users. Fiber Optic connections are the most expensive of the three most common service types, due in large part to the extensive installation procedures and the required hardware involved. Fiber Optic connections are best suited to larger enterprises whose business is predominately IT dependent.
Choosing Your Bandwidth
The bandwidth you will require will be largely determined by the number of employees you have, and the demands you place on the internet at any given time. A small business, with only a few employees accessing the web at any given time, may find that a standard DSL connection is sufficient to the task. However, small business owners may wish to consider cable service as an alternative option. As your business grows, so will your internet demands. Cable lays the groundwork for your company’s future expansion, and makes upgrading your service ultimately easier and less expensive. While controlling costs is important for any business, planning ahead can save you money in the long run.
Security and Service
Technical support after installation, and security during operation, are two of the most vital aspects of any internet service. Before signing any ISP agreement, be sure that your provider can offer hardware firewalls for your network, and that they have a support team in place to respond to any critical issues that may arise. Internet downtime for a business means the loss of productivity and income, and your ISP should be prepared to respond in a timely manner to any technical problems that may develop with your connection.
For smaller businesses, DSL and cable remain the most cost efficient of internet connections. They provide versatility, reliability and can be easily upgraded as the business grows. Before signing any service agreement, consider your typical internet usage, the tech support and security features being offered, and the upgrade potential of the service. Don’t hesitate to ask questions of the service provider’s representative, and weigh their answers against your needs as a small, and growing, business.