An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company that provides its customers with access to the Internet. They also often provide email accounts and some space for hosting a web site too.

In the UK there are hundreds of ISP’s from relatively small companies to large well known names such as BT and Tiscali. So how do you choose the right ISP for your business?

There are so many ISPs out there that it can be difficult to know which one is best. The truth is that there is no single perfect provider so you have to find the one that is right for you. In order to figure which one that is, there are some things you should consider…

Check the package.

The bandwidth advertised doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re always guaranteed that bandwidth. What upload and download speeds are guaranteed for the package in question. How many of your neighbours are you likely to be sharing your connection with (known as the contention ratio)? Is there a maximum data download per month? And what happens when you reach this limit? If you need web hosting, email or spam services then does the package provide these and if so, are they adequate for your requirements?

Research service levels.

Access to knowledgeable, helpful and responsive support is essential for any business. See what testimonials or awards they won for customer service. If possible ask other users about their experiences, read reviews and speak to an expert. And perhaps most importantly, find out whether they provide telephone support and in what time you can expect a call to be answered. It has been known for customers to wait for hours on a support line and eventually give up with frustration.

Read the small print.

Contracts vary enormously and the devil is often in the detail. Look particularly for the clauses around cancellation – how and when can you cancel? Are there any penalties?

Price.

You will obviously want to consider price but you will ultimately pay more in time and lost business if you don’t ensure the package is right. Given the general pricing of ISP packages in the UK, it’s our opinion that businesses should focus on their requirements and the level of customer service above price. The saving of £10 or £20 per month compared to lost time and business through a bad service simply doesn’t make economic sense.

The best ISP is the one that works the best for you and your business. Take your time and investigate all of the above. Think about the needs of your business and match them up with the offerings.