A reliable, high-speed internet connection is no longer a luxury for small businesses today - it is an absolute necessity. It is the primary mechanism for most people in business to communicate today.
1. Internet Speeds
For a modern business today, you do not want a download of anything less than 25 Mbps. However, faster speeds will allow your business to function much more efficiently. I find that 50-100 Mbps is adequate for most small businesses, that want to do some advanced functions like Zoom conferencing.
This is the most important in business.
A consistent, reliable connection is crucial. The best thing to do is ask locals, while in your shop, who you use and how you find them. When I moved into my office, I first contacted the people nearby and asked them about their experience with their internet supplier. They were all quite pleased to help me.
I suggest that you look at their Google reviews online. They are only relevant if it has a few; one or two reviews tell you nothing. For rating, you want something about 4.2; anything much over that sounds suspiciously like they are buying good reviews. Pay particular attention to the recent reviews; you are not interested in ancient history.
3. Data limits
Today, you can get unlimited for as much as plans with limited data. If you think you do not need much, you can get away with much less. Be careful, though many have been burnt with not buying enough and getting big bills from the internet provider when they exceeded the limit. I like the Optus plan here, as you do not get charged more if you go over. You just go slow.
4. Price and Fees
Well, we all have budgets. No one bank is unlimited. Buy what you think you can afford.
5. Customer Service
Find out if they offer telephone support, and if so, what are the hours. Most restrict the hours. Also, some only give telephone support if they cannot work it out with email or chat first.
6. Technical Support
Check what is covered in their technical support; some internet providers, for example, only support modems you purchased from them. This is no minor matter as a large percentage of support calls for the internet, in my experience, have to do with modems.
7. Local availability
It is great if they have an office or shop near you. I had a client that had problems with his internet. The internet support team could not help them with their modem. As their internet supplier was an Optus reseller, we told them to go to the local Optus shop to check it out. The Optus team established it was a faulty modem, sold them a new modem and then checked their internet provider's SIM, and they were up and running almost immediately.
Your business requirements go up and down, so it is best to pick an internet provider with many plans. That way, you can change your plan as your business requirements change. I have a client who, over the school holiday whom I talked about above, whose son helps out over the holidays. When the son is there, he increases his plan.
9. Connection Type
I could write a whole blog post on the main two connection types used by my clients, the 5G network and the NBN (National Broadband Network). Both are two very different technologies. The 5G is wireless, while NBN mostly relies on fixed, wired connections. I suggest for reliability going for the NBN.
Note in some areas, NBN is also wireless, so check first.
10. Contract Terms
Beware of lengthy contracts. The problem is that some come with termination fees. A month-to-month or annual contract offers more flexibility.
11. Bundled Services
Many ISPs offer bundled deals with phone, TV, web hosting, email accounts, VoIP and other services. While not always necessary for business, bundles can save you significant costs if you need those services. One of my clients gets two free virtual phone numbers. He uses one to monitor how his advertising goes since the only time that number is used is when he advertises.
12. Compare online plans
One site I recommend you start looking for an internet provider is here.
This will give you a good start.
The odds are the internet provider you will be using for a long time is more than just comparing speeds and prices; you need one that is right for you.
A reliable, high-speed internet is too important to avoid getting wrong!