Choosing an Internet Service Provider for a Home Business
In many communities, your choice of an Internet service provider (ISP) will be limited, but you'll almost always have options. Here are some tips for choosing the right ISP for your home business:
- Cable is the form of Internet service that many small businesses favor. It works much the way cable TV works, and can handle several dozen users simultaneously. Cable-based ISPs offer speeds of up to 100 megabytes per second (MBPS) for downloads, although 50 MBPS is more common. Speeds will vary depending on traffic volume.
- DSL service runs through traditional phone lines. It's much slower than cable, although probably fast enough for a business with fewer than 10 employees, and cheaper.
- Fiber-based service employs fiber-optic cablings that in some cases can be extended all the way from the source to the end user, providing service that can be faster than cable at a competitive price. A fiber-based service can usually provide a full menu of communications services to a small business.
- Wireless service is popular in rural areas, and in parts of the world where phone and cable service are limited. Wireless is not as reliable as other options.
- Your ISP will probably offer you two or more options on bandwidth speed: the faster it is, the more expensive it will be. You'll need more bandwidth if you have several employees using the Internet at the same time for functions such as downloading large files, or streaming video. Simple functions such as Web browsing or e-mail don't require much bandwidth.
- If your company has a website, compare the site hosting services offered by various ISPs.
- Be sure your ISP provides strong technical support, around the clock--but be sure that they offer service by a live person, 24/7, in addition to any automated service.