What You Need to Know About Choosing an Internet Service Provider

Ever since the divestiture of AT&T back in the mid-’80s and the subsequent Telecommunications Act of 1996, telecommunications companies have been scrambling for your business. Free market – yay! No doubt opening the door for competition has been a godsend for consumers of telecommunication services – competition translates to better service and lower prices. But whereas residential consumers are somewhat limited in their choice of internet service providers, there’s no shortage of ISPs ready, willing and able to provide network services to businesses big and small. And that’s where it can get confusing.

There are many different ways to deliver internet service – cable, DSL, T1, fiber. Some companies have their own fiber while other carriers just lease it from another provider. And then there those that are simply reselling someone else’s network. It’s difficult to tell the difference between carriers, and that puts you – the decision-maker – at a clear disadvantage when it comes to choosing the right ISP.

How do you know what’s best for your company? How do you know which providers are available in your area? It’s easy to be taken for a ride if you’re not sure what you really need. Sure, you could do a Google search, but aside from the significant amount of time it would take you to get real answers, you could fall prey to a provider who wants to sell you their product at any cost. The reality is they might not have lines running to your address, and to make that happen, it’s going to cost you. So then, you’re back to square one. It can be downright frustrating.

Clients of MIS Solutions can take advantage of our expertise and leave all the heavy lifting to us, thus eliminating the headache of trying to find one on your own. And it doesn’t cost you anything! In fact, you will still pay the exact same price you would if you went directly to the service provider. We work with a telecommunications broker who has extensive industry knowledge and access to more than 50 carriers. They have been in the business for more than 16 years and have the inside scoop on which providers are stable, reliable and offer exemplary customer and billing services. They also are able to provide us with a more dependable and accurate lead-time for installations. Through our partnership with our broker, we are able to help our clients find the right solution at the right price in a fraction of the time it would take to research on your own. That alone is worth its weight in gold.

But if you need further convincing, here are some reasons to let us help you find an ISP.

We Have Connections

Part of the service we offer our clients is vendor management. Because we take ownership of your technology and vendor relationships, we encourage you to call us when a problem pops up – we’ll work with the ISP to find a speedy solution. And since we already have relationships with a number of ISPs, we have a “Bat phone” to their support lines, which means your technical issues are given top priority and are solved much quicker than if you were to call them yourself. If you’ve ever had to call your home’s ISP channel support line, you know how exasperating that can be. Our job is to work with your vendors on your behalf so you don’t have to deal with it. We want to be your “one throat to choke” so you can focus on your business.

We Have Our Ways

Well, our telecom broker has tools – that you don’t – showing fiber and cable maps from every carrier in the area. Obviously, if a building is “lit” – meaning a carrier or carriers already has circuits in a particular building – you won’t have to shell out more money to have it installed. If a building is not lit, then we look for a carrier who has a splice point closest to that building.

Some providers will say they can deliver service to your office even though they might not have facilities within a thousand feet of your business. A typical scenario is their salesperson will have you place an order for internet service. The carrier will then perform a site survey only to find that they can’t service your address without building their network to your building. So after you’ve invested a considerable amount of your time, you’ll learn that it will end up costing you a pretty penny for them to run their lines to your building. This is the kind of information that is almost impossible for individuals to find on their own. Because we – through our telecom broker – have access to those tools, we are able to present you with several options in order to get you the best quality at the best price in less time and with far fewer headaches.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Or rather, chances are you don’t know what your business needs are when it comes to internet services. There are so many moving pieces that you need a trusted advisor to help you navigate the possibilities. Of course, you want speed, so you need to understand bandwidth requirements. But in addition, you have to consider if the circuit will be supporting voice or video conferencing, as well. Are you connecting multiple locations? If so, that opens up a completely new set of criteria. For instance, you will need a carrier who has a good service level agreement (SLA) and will stand behind their network to ensure it stays up. Some of the less expensive business-class services offer a “best-effort” meaning they have no full contract with the customer and no SLAs to keep their services up and running. They will put forth their best effort to keep their service up. Best-effort products are probably not a good choice for businesses that cannot afford a 100-percent work stoppage in the event of downed service.

Companies that fall into that category, such as clients using a cloud solution, need to use a redundant circuit in the event the primary service goes down. We are able to use those fiber-mapping tools to see which carriers complement each other by sharing a very limited amount of resources or fiber pathways. As mentioned earlier, some carriers lease their fiber from other carriers. If your redundant ISP is piggybacking on your primary provider’s circuit, then you really don’t have a true redundant circuit. In other words, if your primary internet service goes down, your failover service is going down also. Again, we have access to tools that let us know which carriers are piggybacking on another carrier’s network and can help you choose ISPs that don’t share the same fiber pathways.  So in the event of a storm or someone taking out a telephone pole, your business won’t come to a screeching halt.

When Should You Re-evaluate Your Service?

If you are planning a move or opening up new locations, you’ll want to let us know so we can find the best options for you. Another time to scrutinize your internet service is when you start experiencing sluggish service, especially if you’re operating with outdated technology. Those old T1 lines are usually more costly and slower than newer technology.

About three or four months before your contract expires is also a great time to explore your options. One of the most common, costly mistakes we see is businesses that just renew their contract with their current provider. The cost of bandwidth is coming down and chances are if you’ve been in a three-year contract, you stand a good chance of reducing your monthly bill. By providing us with a detailed copy of your current bill, we’ll be able to determine exactly what you have and if there are better choices out there. It takes anywhere from 90 to 120 days to install fiber, so you don’t want to wait until the very last minute.

If you’d like an assessment of your current provider and their costs, contact your Client Account Manager.

If you’re not already a client of MIS Solutions and would like to learn about our services, call 678-745-5109, email us at info@mis-solutions.com or fill out the form to the right and someone will get back with you.

Schedule a free 15-minute discovery call
We’ll discuss your IT requirements and assess whether we’re the right fit for you.


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