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Choosing An ISP For Your Business: 5 Things To Consider

Author: Megan Ellis
Date: 2017-04-20
The internet has revolutionised the way we conduct business. Here are five things to consider when choosing an ISP for your SMME.
The internet has revolutionised the way we do most things - and this is no different for small to medium business (SMME) owners. But, since businesses are different from households, there various things you will need to consider when choosing an internet service provider (ISP) and package. Here are a few things you should think through when choosing an internet package for your business…

1. How Much Do You Use The Internet?

The very first consideration you need to make is how much you use the internet during your business hours. If you are an online business, you are going to need a robust internet package with an ISP that is responsive and has minimal downtime. If your business operates mostly offline, but you use the internet for email or managing your Facebook page, you will be able to opt for a cheaper internet package. Of course, you'll still want a good ISP, but you won't require support, which is available 24 hours a day.

2. Cost Vs. Speed Vs. Cap

Depending on your business, you'll need to decide what you want to prioritise in your internet package. Very few packages have it all. A package that is cheap, very fast, and uncapped is a virtual unicorn. If you want a fast, uncapped package, you'll have to spend more. But, if you're fine with a slower line, or choose a capped package, you can get one for a cheaper price. The more staff members you have at your business, the higher the speed you'll need so that the line doesn't become congested and slow. Likewise, if your business day includes many downloads and file transfers from the internet and emails, you'll need a higher cap.

3. Fibre, ADSL, Or LTE?

Luckily for South African residents, we are getting more choice when it comes to internet line types. This gives both businesses and consumers more freedom to choose which line suits their needs the most. Fibre is all the rage right now due to its high speed and reliability. It is perfect for heavy internet users and online businesses. However, the catch is that it is more expensive than traditional ADSL or VDSL, and is only available in certain areas. ADSL is the broadband connection most users are familiar with. While it is cheaper than other line types, it is usually slower. It is also vulnerable to congestion at the neighbourhood exchange, which further slows speeds during peak hours. VDSL is the faster version of ADSL, with speeds of up to 20Mbps. If you're looking for higher speeds with less congestion, there is also LTE - a wireless network. A useful feature of many LTE packages is that you can get mobile routers, which you can use anywhere. LTE tends to also be easier to move. Due to it being a wireless network, you just need the modem to get signal. This means that if you take your modem to a different property, and a cellphone tower is in range, you can still use your internet. There is also LTE-Advanced, a faster version of LTE that is more expensive.
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4. Service Level Agreements

Now onto the paperwork and T&C's of your ISP. Because businesses need reliable internet connections and support when the internet is down, you'll want to check the service level agreement (SLA) of your ISP. These agreements outline the minimum expectations and level of service you can get from the ISP. If the ISP doesn't offer an SLA, or its SLA doesn't prioritise response times and issue resolution, you'll want to shop around for ones with better service.

5. Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is also a good gauge of an ISP's service, so you'll want to take a look at those. There are various sites that provide rankings of ISPs and feedback from customers. Some of these ratings you'll need to take with a pinch of salt, especially when it is based on user ratings or the site is geared specifically around complaints. For example, is a great source for user reviews, but it is also an outlet for many users to air their complaints. As a result, the ISP index on the site includes many grievances, with the average rating being 2.2 out of 10 (ouch). You'll want to look at the number of reviews a business has received and go through them to see if any of the complaints seem like deal-breakers to you or once-off issues. Other indexes are also available on different sites.

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