I have worked in the telecom industry for more than a decade and, while the internet has been around considerably longer, its importance has steadily grown over the past few years. In fact, even though the company I work for primarily sells phone service, a good chunk of our business comes from the internet side.
I work primarily with commercial accounts. And, despite the internet’s importance, there are a surprisingly high number of business owners that are absolutely clueless about this technology. This includes not even knowing what kind of internet connection is right for their business and, because of that, many wind up either with a connection that doesn’t meet their needs or one that is too expensive for their needs. This is why I have a list of three questions I feel every business owner should ask before making a decision.
First, is it a shared network? Cable internet and DSL are less expensive, something many business owners prefer when comparing them to more expensive dedicated circuits. However, they are also typically on a shared network and, because of that, the speed and overall quality can fluctuate considerably depending on what your neighbors are doing.
While I have plenty of smaller business customers that can function just fine with a shared connection, this isn’t going to be the case with all businesses. This is especially true rural businesses that might be tempted to save money by using a shared wireless connection.
Second, how many IP addresses are included? Unless you are paying for them separately, most internet providers have a set limit on the number of IP addresses you are able to use. This is something that can (and has) cause problems with businesses trying to connect multiple devices (IP phones, credit card machines, etc) to the same connection and, while there are ways around it (such as using a router), it’s good to know the limitations ahead of time.
Last, does the connection have quality of service? If you are just using your internet connection for your computers, this probably isn’t going to be that big of a deal. But, if your company is looking to run a VOIP phone system off of the circuit too, it’s an important feature to have because it will allow you to prioritize the bandwidth. Not ever internet service offers this so it is best to check before signing a contract.
As I said before, internet service has become a necessity in today’s business world. Asking these questions ahead of time will help your business make an informed decision.