5 Things To Look For In An ISP

The Internet revolutionized how people communicate, and this technology is constantly evolving and rising in popularity. Figures from a U.S. Census report, for example, state that over 75% of households have some form of Internet access. And these figures are practically guaranteed to rise in the upcoming years.

But as more and more people become familiar with the Internet – today’s children practically live online – there are still many people who don’t know much about Internet service providers (ISP). Indeed, many regular folks select an ISP based on trivial factors such as cost and brand popularity. This is a mistake, as there are far more important things to keep in mind when considering the right ISP for a household.

Service-level commitment
The best deal in the world for an ISP isn’t worth it if that Internet provider can’t maintain an active connection. That’s where uptime commitments come in. These days, even a 99.9% commitment to service isn’t enough. Those in the market for a new ISP should settle for nothing less than a 100% uptime commitment, including specific details regarding credits and invoices. For example, if service does go down, is the ISP willing to credit the next bill with a refund? These details need to be properly laid out in black and white.

Downstream Speed
Many ISPs advertise a certain downstream speed for a certain area – and they usually overshoot with their estimations. For example, it’s not uncommon for an ISP to guarantee a 20Mbps downstream speed for a certain location, only to have that speed be significantly lower after installation. And this is when the excuses — such as “it’s an issue with the building,” or “the circuits aren’t ideal” – start. The best thing a person can do to avoid this pitfall is to test the speed on the day of installation, and then regularly there afterward.

Upstream speed
There are other factors to consider with Internet service speeds. For example, the popularity of remote access, combined with VPNs and mobile users with data packages, place a premium on upstream capacity as well. Like Downstream speed, it’s important to test upstream as well.

Technical support accessibility
All too often those with downed Internet service will call tech support only to be greeted with an automated message saying that the call was placed before or after normal business orders. This is unacceptable for those living in a single-family home, and it’s certainly untenable for a business that relies on a viable Internet connection to conduct commerce.

That’s why it’s important to ensure tech support is easily accessible at all hours of the day and night 365 days a year before signing the contract.

Prompt field service
Just as its important to know the finer details about the ISP’s service, it’s equally important to ensure quick response times to Internet failure. Faulty modems and bad wiring are an inconvenient reality in the world of Internet service. And unfortunately it isn’t uncommon for certain ISPs to take a day or more to get around to sending a truck out. Once again, for a small business that relies on processing credit card transactions, this can be devastating. That’s why it’s important to ensure the ISP lays out their service policy in full before purchasing their services.

Quality equipment

An ISP that deals in shoddy equipment is not ideal. How often a modem fails is often a direct result of the quality of its manufacturing. Therefore, it’s important to ensure the ISP supports a variety of top quality equipment brands.

These are just a few things to consider when shopping around for an ISP. And whether it’s for business or household use, the most important thing is transparency on the part of the Internet service provider.

Derek Newman writes from ITWatchDogs, which offers environmental and temperature monitor tools that monitor server room temperature, power, humidity, light, airflow and much more. Install these into your server room, data center, cold storage, research lab or other mission critical facilities to prevent equipment failure or downtime.