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Choosing an ISP is Harder Than it Looks

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POSTED: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 3:58pm

UPDATED: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 11:14am

Whether you own an small to medium-sized business or are responsible for the technical infrastructure of a large corporation, one of the most important decisions you will make is in choosing the right internet service Provider (ISP).

Your ISP will essentially be responsible for the integrity of all outgoing and incoming communication, regardless of the other in-house measures you put in place. You need to make sure the internet service provider that mediates your web access is reliable, has servers that don't experience too much downtime, and has prepared supplementary backup methods in case of disaster.

A thriving business will lose a lot of money for even a few hours of unscheduled downtime.

ISP Options for Internet Access

There are several methods of internet access that most ISPs can provide. They include wireless connection with a base cable modem, dial-up, DSL, satellite or fiber optic connections. Since most of these are fairly standard and consistent offerings from nearly every internet service provider, you should investigate things such as their track record of customer support when trying to decide which one you'll go with. Backups of files, email bounce rates and internet access will be important in the event of system compromises, limited web access and downtime. Assess these properties in the user service agreement to make sure you understand everything the ISP offers before you choose your provider.

In the current technological age, increasingly sophisticated viruses and malware can afflict a network, compromising the information of your employees and putting your information architecture at risk. In your search, make sure you properly assess both a provider’s privacy statements and security protocols. The use of certain levels of encryption should be standard in the ISP industry. Compare providers to make sure they are at least up to par. Read the fine print to ascertain just how private the information you submit online will be. For example, will it be used by a program to tailor-make advertisements and send them to company browsers? You should be able to reliably opt out of such programs in the interest of enhanced privacy.

The speed of your ISP is important, as well as storage capability. If it's too slow, then the only thing your employees will be able to accomplish in a timely fashion is checking and sending email. Web-browsing will be a painfully slow experience. Many users logging on at once may even make the internet unavailable for slower plans. Being unable to load web pages in a timely fashion will definitely decrease workplace productivity; but you don't want to pay for a connection that's unnecessarily fast for your purposes.

Finally, reputation and age means a lot when it comes to the Internet Service Provider industry. It's too competitive to keep around a provider for very long that isn't delivering the goods. So investigate other businesses and see who they're using. The success of your business communications depends on it.  

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