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Finding the Right ISP for Your Small Business

So, you say you are ready to get your small business up and running? Well, this is no easy feat so do not underestimate the process. In a rush to launch a business and begin generating revenue, business owners make blind decisions that end up costing them in the long run. This is why we created this guide–to help you get set up so you can start operating now while remaining capable of scaling your business and avoiding common mistakes and pitfalls in the future.

Welcome to the first of a four part series in which we discuss various service providers for your business to help you make informed decisions in terms of who you partner with to service your company.

In this first post, we will look at a few internet service providers (ISP’s). We will not go into extensive research as that is your due diligence, but we will identify the big players to help with your decision along with some basic plans offered to those in NYC.

You will have to answer some questions to help you understand your needs and which provider will best meet those needs. Think about these questions:

  • What services do I provide? What do I need the internet for and how often will I need access?
  • How many employees do I have that will need internet to operate the business?
  • Where do I see the company in one, three and five years?
  • How quickly do I expect to expand?
  • How many programs will employees run simultaneously?

Answering these questions will help you and the ISP understand what speed, package, and additional services you will need to run your business smoothly.

Before we dig into the various ISP’s lets first discuss the different connection types because there are a few.

Dial-up

Dial-up is the ancestor of internet connection, or the “grandpappy” as Globalcom calls it. It connects to the internet via phone lines, so phone conversations and web surfing cannot take place simultaneously. Dial-up has become pretty obsolete except in most rural areas because it remains easy and convenient to install. Dial-up’s maximum transfer speed is 56 kilobit per second (kbps). To put this in perspective, a 20 page PDF full of text and some images can be upwards of 10 megabits (mb). Suppose you wanted to download a 10mb PDF, it would take approximately three minutes.

DSL

Digital subscriber line, or DSL, is a modern version of dial-up in a sense. It does use a phone line, but can also support data transfer. Transfer speed for DSL start at around 250 kbps and can leap to 100 mbps. You would have to discuss the speed with your ISP for specifics with your particular business as technology and line conditions vary by region.

Cable Internet

Cable internet, you guessed it, provides internet access via cable television. This is a popular internet connection type that almost all ISP’s offer. Although it uses the cable network, simultaneous use of internet, cable television, and telephone of course, is possible. Transfer speeds can reach 400 mbps for business connections.

Satellite Internet

Satellite internet connection is pretty straight forward. It is convenient in that you can connect from anywhere as location is not much of a factor. No major installation is needed or infrastructure from the ISP so setup is easy. This is ideal for businesses in secluded areas and because the connection is via satellite, interruptions are rare. Speeds can reach 1 gbps (gigabit per second) or 1024 mbps.

Fiber

Fiber internet connection is considered the best of the best. It revolutionized the internet service industry with its capability to convert optical signals (light) into electrical ones, providing the fastest internet connection available. Because fiber is relatively new, many regions do not have access to it yet as it requires infrastructure that is costly to develop.

Google Fiber is the among the newest addition to the fiber family. Only offering service to just a few cities in the US, Google recently selected another 34 cities to offer Google Fiber. Google Fiber offers internet, television and storage reaching speeds of 1 gbps. Because it is not offered in many cities such as New York City, Google Fiber will not be compared with its competitors. However, it is worth noting that Google Fiber does offer free internet connection, although, the installation comes at a cost.

Below are the ISP’s along with some plan details specific to New York City. Internet service providers may have variations in price based on location and may not be available in certain regions. Be sure to check their websites for terms and prices in your area.

Internet Speeds

Before we jump in to the different internet service providers, it is important that you understand there are two different speeds related to the internet connection: downstream and upstream.

Downstream refers to network traffic of data that occurs from a server to your computer. Opening emails and downloading files are good examples of this.

Conversely, upstream refers to traffic that occurs from your computer to a server. Examples would be uploading files or videos and sending emails.

When you ISP’s quote their speed, it is usually something like, 15/5 or 15 x 5. The first set of numbers refer to the downstream traffic while the second set refers to upstream. As you will notice, downstream is usually much faster than upstream and, chances are, you know this by experience.

Time Warner

Most people cringe when they hear or see anything that involves Time Warner. If you are one of them, feel free to skip this section. A snapshot of Time Warner’s services offer packages that range from 15×2 mbps at $79.95 to 50×5 mbps at $229.99. However, with recent news of Comcast purchasing Time Warner do not be surprised if these plans and prices change.

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Comcast

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Verizon Fios

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For more information, reviews and comparisons of on these subjects, please check these links:

http://www.broadband.gov/broadband_types.html

http://mashable.com/2012/08/21/google-fiber-verizon-fios/

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