In today's technological and web-savvy age, it is possible that there are a myriad of choices from Internet Access Providers to choose from. As technology and competition improve constantly, it is crucial to keep abreast with options and trends. For companies, this can be an extremely important decision as nowadays, many companies depend on the internet to communicate and it could be challenging to choose which Internet service provider provides the most reliable Internet service needed for your business. While it is easy to shop around on the internet, how do you ensure that you're selecting the best Internet company? Do they have a skilled technical support staff? Will they be able to provide prompt assistance when problems arise with your Internet service? These are crucial questions to inquire about when searching for local Internet service. If you're in search of the perfect Internet service provider, here are some crucial points to take into consideration. Step 1 - Find out who your local providers are. Find a local internet service provider for your home or business by asking family members, friends, or searching on the internet. The trick is finding an established service provider. If you search online then you can look through your local Internet provider's site and find out the type of Internet services they offer. If they are local they're more likely receive more support staff and will be more likely be able to address issues that occur much faster. Step 2 - Determine their Network Access Ability. Before you choose an Internet provider, make sure you inquire whether they have Network Access. Do they offer Cable, DSL, T1, T3, Ethernet or Fiber Optic's? Here's a quick description of each. Cable or DSL is a high-speed Internet service that is accessed via phone lines or cable. Typically lower cost and reasonable speed of download, however it is more suitable for people who are mostly downloading and it can be limited when trying to upload. Upload speeds or the speed of sending data will be limited depending on the type of connection used and the distance from your ISP's POP (point of presence). DSL is a distance-sensitive service, so the further you are away from the ISP's POP the less speedy it's DSL rate will be. Cable and DSL aren't accessible in all locations and some areas can have patchy speeds and performance, so ask around for recommendations. Cable & DSL require basic configuration , and usually includes hardware/routers which can be bought in increments of $50 or more local stores for computers. Cable & DSL commonly come with a dynamic IP (not static) so if you require a static IP then you might have to buy them. As of now, DSL & Cable do not have guarantees, so you'll need to cross your fingers with the quality and reliability. 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Equipment is typically provided, however you should confirm this as because of the faster throughput speeds, T1 requires better performing routers and configuration and T1 routers run from upwards of $800. T1 is a static IP service; However, some providers charge for additional static IP's. You should consider this into the price of the T1 before making a choice. T1 is available across the globe and prices run from $250-$800+ for monthly service on each T1 depending on the circuit speed and geographic location. T3: Typically used by USA companies. T1 gives businesses an extremely reliable phone line or Internet connection. It's a dedicated connection between your company and the ISP's closest point of presence (point in presence) and cannot be shared with any other. It carries much faster up/down speeds that start at 1.544Mbps and is able to be linked with other T1's to provide increased uptime and speeds that exceed 10Mbps or voice 24 trunks for each T1. One major benefit of T1 is the fact that it offers a guarantee quality, upload and download speeds, what's called an SLA (Service Level Agreement). The equipment is usually provided but it is important to confirm this because due to the faster throughput speeds, T1 routers are more efficient and configurations. The T1 routers run from 800-$800. T1 is a static IP service; however , some providers charge for additional static IP's. So, you need to factor this into the price of the T1 when making a choice. T1 is available everywhere and the costs can range from $250 to $850plus for monthly service on each T1 depending on the circuit's speed and the geographical location. Ethernet Internet: This type of network access uses Ethernet LAN cards off the ISP's POP switch. The cards are capable of speeds up to 100 Mbps. The speed is determined by network type and distance from your ISP's Ethernet equipment. The speeds for business start at 3Mbps up to 100Mbps. The fastest Ethernet reaches Gbps. In terms of speed, one Gbps is equal to 1000 Mbps. Ethernet Internet isn't available in every location since it requires a central office or POP that is Ethernet equipped. Similar to T1 & T3, Ethernet guarantees quality as well as upload and download speeds through an SLA (Service Level Agreement) that includes static IP's. Providers might charge extra static IP's as well as hardware. It is recommended to consult with your provider for the appropriate hardware can be extremely expensive starting at $5000 or more due to the higher throughput and performance demands. The prices are for Ethernet Internet run from $400 for a monthly service, and increase depending on the speed, delivery type (EOC Cat5, Cat5, as well as Fiber) and distance from the equipment of the ISP. Fiber Optic: It is composed of glass or plastic threads used to transmit details (data). Data is transferred digitally, and provides a greater capacity of bandwidth that is nearly indefinite when compared with metal cables. Fiber optics utilizes the latest technology and must be installed by specialists as bad connections will result in lost packets (packet loss) as well as slower speeds due to mistakes in installation. Fiber Optics isn't available everywhere since it requires expensive fiber installation, permits and equipment. Like T1 and T3 and Ethernet, Fiber guarantees quality upload and download speeds via an SLA (Service Level Agreement) and includes static IP's. Providers may charge for additional static IP's and hardware. Check with your service provider about the hardware could be extremely expensive starting at $10000+ due to the greater throughput and performance requirements. Prices for business Fiber Internet run from $100-$100 per month for monthly services and up depending on the speed, carrier, and distance to the provider's POP. Step 3 - Check the Providers SLA's (Service Level Agreements). A quality Internet Service Provider must be able provide its customers with a superior degree of performance and reliability. If you are looking for an efficient and reliable internet connection it is recommended to force your provider to get an SLA and avoid any provider that doesn't offer an industry standard SLA because you could be at risk of having intermittent outages and slow speeds. Businesses today rely heavily on the internet for productivity and communications to sustain business and downtime could cost you money. Step 4 - Check to See If They Provide Online Tools. As more people are working and making use of the Internet, companies are now employing online tools to gauge the efficiency of the Internet. Any legitimate Internet service provider will make use of the Internet to assist the user connect with their company and provide technology to assist the user receive everything they can out of the services they offer. Most commonly, online tools include web statistics, performance monitoring, network ping systems, online ticketing systems and various web or network information. Step 5 - Beware of Low Pricing. Often times many upstart Internet service providers will provide cheaper prices than your local Internet provider. However, many of these competitors that are fly-by-night have been unable to survive due to poor business methods. Be aware that just because an Internet service advertises as having the lowest rates in the market doesn't mean they provide the most value for money. Many people have been swindled over short-term bargains. The victim realizes months later that their Internet service actually cost more. It is better to choose one that has been operating for more than 5 years, has a good and diverse customer base and has competitive prices. At least you're guaranteed quality Internet service. Step 6 - Review their References. Check the Internet provider's references prior to making the commitment. A legitimate service provider should not have any issues providing references to prospective customers. You can take it one step further and check for the Better Business Bureau online to determine if the business has any unresolved complaints from unsatisfied customers. You can also do an easy Google search of the Internet service provider to see if there are any customer complaints or negative reviews published on the internet. Step 7 - Determine if they Offer Professional Customer Support? Problems with technical aspects of an Internet service may occur. It doesn't matter whether you've got DSL, T1, T3, Ethernet or Fiber Optics, at some point, you might need to reach out to technical support. An Internet service provider must be able offer their customers high-quality technical support no cost. Additionally, the provider must be able to provide users free email addresses as well. Every Internet provider should offer their customers well-trained customer support representatives trained to offer support for the services they offer.