Choose an internet service provider for your business
ISP tiers, connectivity and speed capacity
Connection speed is a major consideration for users, as well as internet service providers (ISPs). Business benefits can be achieved through an 'always-on' connection using:
- a leased line
- integrated digital services network (ISDN)
- asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL)
- fibre to the cabinet (FTTC)
- fibre to the premises (FTTP)
- mobile wireless
See also choosing a business broadband connection.
Tier 1, 2 and 3 service providers
As far as the ISP's connection to the internet is concerned, check whether it is a Tier 1, 2 or 3 provider. Tier 1 providers own or control their own portion of the internet, while Tier 2 and 3 providers lease bandwidth from them. A Tier 1 provider may be more expensive, but they are also often more reliable.
The capacity of your own internet connection will directly affect the speed with which you are able to use the internet. For example, with a typical webpage (assuming 400 kilobytes of data) you can expect the following fastest download times:
|Internet connection||Time to download larger file size (1GB)|
|2MB broadband||1 hour and 11 minutes|
|8MB broadband||18 minutes|
|24MB broadband||6 minutes|
|76MB broadband||2 minutes|
|150MB broadband||60 seconds|
|300MB broadband||30 seconds|
Increasingly ISPs are offering a range of broadband services via ADSL, FTTC, FTTP, cable or wireless. Evaluate these carefully for the speed of connection offered and the associated costs.
If you are considering a broadband service, take into account contention ratios. This is the maximum number of users sharing the bandwidth on the connection between your local exchange and the ISP. For example, a user with a contention ratio of 20:1 never has to share this bandwidth with more than 19 other users.
ISP service terms and conditions
Some ISPs include clauses in their contracts that impose system-usage restrictions, and bandwidth limits or fair usage policies that aren't declared on the package advertisement. Many providers will quote best-case speeds whereas the actual speeds delivered can be much slower. Look at such terms and conditions carefully prior to signing any ISP service level agreements.