Internet service providers are important partners to your IT infrastructure – whether you own a home or a business. ISPs give you access to a multitude of services including email, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, social platforms and much more.
Not all ISPs offer the same features or level of service. Read on to learn five questions to ask when choosing an ISP:
- What is the downstream speed?
You can evaluate an ISP based on its downstream speeds. Unfortunately, most ISPs advertise maximum speeds, but they rarely reach those speeds after the actual installation. Be sure to read online reviews, and look for any signs of dissatisfaction with downstream speeds. Also, continue testing the speeds after subscribing.
- Does the ISP have uptime commitments?
It is important to choose an ISP that makes and fulfills its uptime commitments. Ask if the company has provided real and measurable uptime targets.
Do not believe the 99.9-percent uptime guarantee; ask for details of what happens if the provider fails to maintain the guarantee. Find out if technical staff is on standby to resolve issues. You should get some credit off your bill if you face downtimes often.
- What is the upstream capacity?
Upstream speeds are critical for many services including cloud computing, automated offsite backups, VPNs and remotely accessing other accessories. If you own a business or organization, then upstream bandwidth capacity is important for letting your team access data from varying locations. You should test upstream speed claims after subscribing to the service.
- Will I have access to a technical support team?
Even with a dedicated Internet service provider, there are times when issues happen. You may need to reach technical support and resolve the problem quickly.
Ask the ISP when their support teams are available. Some providers, such as Frontier Internet service, give customers access to technical support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Other ISPs only offer support on weekdays – sometimes only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If the Internet is for your home or if you work through the night, then you may need an ISP with better service.
- Does the ISP use high-quality hardware?
Different ISPs support different IT Internet access equipment, such as routers and modems. Do some research on the brands that the ISP supports, and compare their quality. This information is often available on the provider’s website.
The ISP you choose will affect your ability to access and use Internet applications at home or work. You should take your time when comparing providers, and it may be wise not to settle on the company that offers the lowest price.
While the Internet can provide valuable information on ISP features and prices, don’t be afraid to ask family, friends and colleagues for recommendations. Once you commit to a contract, it may be inconvenient to switch to another provider – and you may face a charge for cancellation. This is why you should do your homework and choose an ISP that fits your budget and your needs.