Monday, 15 July 2013

Are you getting the most from your ISP?

Are you frustrated with your broadband? Is it as reliable as you need?   

In recent years, the market for data has radically drastically changed with the arrival of faster, more reliable broadband that can support a wide variety of value-added services.

Here’s a useful reference of what to look for in an Internet Service Provider (ISP) supplying your business connectivity.

Service

Critical! Make sure you get 24/7 service support. Given how dependent businesses are on their connectivity, having peace of mind that everything works is essential. It’s worth paying a premium on your connectivity for a more stringent SLA, with options such as rebates for prolonged downtime and guaranteed timescales for fixing problems. Your business connectivity should be as invisible and reliable as your electricity or water supply.

Lots of connectivity

Ideally, your supplier will have access to multiple UK networks such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk. This range of national carriers means your ISP can offer you options on connectivity to suit your budget, speed and resilience requirements.

The days of "one size fits all" broadband are over and requirements will vary from business to business. A small company with a few people might get by on an ADSL2 connection with backup dialup or 3G to provide all the services they need. This consists of web browsing, email, VoIP, CRM and potentially other high bandwidth services such as video or storage.

A larger office, however, will require a lot more than this. Fibre-based connectivity, such as a leased line, is the way forward here. For example, you want to know that your staff can make VoIP calls while uploading their latest presentation to the cloud and transferring data to your satellite offices without any noticeable reduction in quality or speed. A good ISP will be able to provide pre-sales advice on how to meet these goals for your connectivity.

Support

All ISPs should provide excellent support but, unfortunately, this isn’t the case. So you need to be aware of how an ISP operates its support teams. Depending on which services you’re taking, you may want to look a little closer. In brief, the following are the basics any business provider should be offering:

• 24/7 technical support - Ideally by phone and email from UK-based engineers;

• Pro-active monitoring of your connections - You want your ISP to know about problems before, or at the same time as you are;

• Available qualified network engineers – Especially if you take the higher end business connections such as Ethernet or a multi-site MPLS network; and

• Access to carrier diagnostic tools and the ability to manage the traffic themselves – This will help to identify providers who are just reselling other connections compared to those who operate their own networks.

Your provider needs to deliver a good quality and reliable connection that works smoothly in the background. You don’t want to have to be worrying about whether the internet will be accessible or if your phone calls are going to regularly drop out.

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