Choose an internet service provider for your business

What to expect from your internet service provider

Guide

Your internet service provider (ISP) should provide you with fast, secure and reliable internet service on an ongoing basis. You should agree the expectations for the levels of quality and availability of service in your ISP service level agreement.

Role of ISPs in managing security

If your business relies on e-communications or carries out e-commerce transactions, you need assurance from your ISP that its servers are located within a secure environment, ie one that has:

  • good physical security
  • good network security
  • the latest anti-virus software and new software security patches applied quickly
  • a secure server for e-commerce transactions

See more on securing your wireless network.

Most ISPs also offer web content filtering services that block inappropriate content from the internet user, often as part of corporate acceptable internet use policy.

Role of ISPs in managing your website

If you have a website, you will need to update your web content regularly to keep it fresh. Most ISPs will allow you (or your web designer) to carry out the updates using one of the many content management systems available on the market.

If your ISP also hosts your website, they should be able to provide you with key statistics including:

  • the number of visitors to your website
  • the web pages viewed
  • how long they viewed each page for
  • details of the search engine they used to find your site

See how to measure and benchmark your website performance.

Switching your business internet service providers

Some businesses switch their ISP as their contract term ends or to take advantage of better offers, faster services, etc.

Most agents and ISPs will provide this service for free, although some may charge a small administration fee. More important is how long any change will take to complete. You do not want your internet access, website, e-commerce site or email service to be offline for any longer than necessary.

It can help to know in advance how to switch business ISPs, as it is not always straightforward. The key factors you should consider are:

  • your IP address or addresses (and whether you need a static IP address)
  • your firewall or router capabilities and configurations (if a part of the ISP service)
  • how difficult it may be to move your email or website hosting
  • how long is the new ISP's lead time
  • what are their customer service and support like
  • your bandwidth needs (and any foreseeable changes)
  • time, skills and effort you will need to put in to get a new service set up

Migrating your website to a new ISP will be easier if they use the same website technology and content management system. However, you will still typically need technical support to complete this successfully.

Carefully plan the transition to your new ISP to minimise the disruption to your business operations. See how to manage your suppliers.