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From time to time, it’s worthwhile to evaluate Internet Service Provider (ISP) options for your business. Many factors come into play such as service availability, price, speed, uptime, support, etc. when making the decision on which ISP(s) to hire and which to kick to the curb. Here’s a quick-reference guide to assist in your decision-making process:

  1. Know your options. You must start by finding out which providers offer service in your area. Here in Janesville, the main providers are Charter, AT&T, & TDS. The farther outside town you get, the fewer options you will have since most ISPs will only serve addresses that are within a certain distance of one of their central offices or main hub sites.
  2. Speed matters. Are you using any cloud-based solutions, such as online backup or a hosted Line-Of-Business application? You will want as much bandwidth as possible. Bandwidth is measured in download/upload speed. The download speed measures how quickly you can ‘pull’ data down from an online source, and your upload speed measures how quickly you can ‘push’ data back to the ‘cloud.’ The typical Charter cable connection starts at 30-50mb download and 4-5mb upload.
  3. Features matter. If you host an Exchange server for your company’s email, you will need at least one single static IP address as part of your internet package. Most business offerings will include at least one static IP, with options for blocks of 5 or 10. If you plan to offer guest or public wifi access in your place of business, one of the simplest ways to secure your private network is to have multiple static IP addresses.
  4. Bundles matter. All three of the major ISPs mentioned above have the ability to offer phone service, and some even offer television services. Phone/internet/TV bundles are sometimes a good way to save money on your monthly bill, just make sure to pay attention to the details. You may need to involve multiple vendors if you are switching internet and/or phone service to a new provider.
  5. Pricing and contracts matter. The advertised per-month costs are used to lure customers, but they don’t always tell the whole story. Pay attention to the fine print since some providers have hefty sign-up or installation fees, significant price hikes after 6-12 months, or costly early-termination fees.
  6. Planning matters. If you were switching your phone service, make sure to contact the person/vendor in charge of managing your phone system. The same goes for ISPs. It’s rarely as easy as plug-and-play, and typically router changes and DNS modifications are involved. That’s what we’re here for! If you are planning an ISP change and are unsure about the process or its implications, please contact us for planning assistance.

by Neil Lubke, Senior Engineer