1.888.586.5445

How to choose
a small business
internet service provider

Author: Amanda Chelsey

Selecting a small business internet service is no easy task. When it comes to small business internet providers, there’s no shortage of options, from large communications companies to small cable providers to discount startups.

So, what’s the best internet for small businesses? It depends on your specific needs, and there are several considerations business owners need to take into account. Many seek a provider that balances reliable, fast, and simple internet that also meets the budget.  After all, communication is the foundation for good business. In our digital world, fast and reliable connectivity is critical for instant access to customers and suppliers.

Technology adoption driven by COVID-19 remains a significant focus for small businesses as social distancing and remote working forces stronger bandwidth and more robust digital tools and technologies to keep things running. Nearly 2 in 3 decision-makers (63%) say they are using digital tools and technologies to enhance customer experiences and create new business opportunities, compared to just over half who were doing so this time last year (53%).

As small businesses enhance customer experience with digital operations, business owners need to keep abreast of new products and services that internet Services Providers (ISPs) offer. The fact is, internet speeds that were acceptable in the past might not be the best internet for today, especially with the gaining availability of fiber and wireless technologies, such as 5G.

With so many ISPs in the market, what should you look for when selecting the best internet for your small business? For example, how do you decide what key features are the internet “must-haves,” those that will make a difference to your organization’s bottom line today—and tomorrow?

The best internet, of course, depends on your specific needs. However, every business, regardless of size, needs a fast and reliable business internet option. Slow, unreliable internet service can frustrate customers and employees, with the potential for lost sales and productivity, which may be damaging for small businesses.

A fast and reliable internet connection has several benefits, including:

  • Increased productivity from quick digital interactions, response times, and payment processing
  • Better communication with customers and colleagues via digital tools and applications, social media, and messaging
  • Effective digital presence and reach for the best possible customer experience to maximize customer engagement
  • Improved efficiency through real-time collaboration with customers and colleagues
  • Faster upgrades of digital operation tools, software, and anti-virus programs
  • Expand reach with reliable connections when and where your customers and workers need them most

So, when evaluating small business internet providers, take time to research which internet service provider is right for your needs.

Choosing the right technology

For broadband internet service, there are several options to choose from today.

Fiber Optic Service

Fiber-optic service uses light to send data over great distances at incredible speeds: "the speed of light." Verizon's Fios offers some of the highest speeds available on the market today, as high as 940 Mbps download and 880 Mbps upload in some areas. Upload speeds are gaining importance to support cloud applications and digital tools. Additionally, enabling multiple network users for customer and colleague engagement through applications such as video, web conferencing, and voice-over IP requires fast connectivity. Fios is available in certain areas.

Fixed Wireless Access

Wireless connectivity solutions, also known as "fixed wireless" internet access, are available with LTE and 5G speeds. Verizon LTE and 5G Business Internet deliver ultra-fast speeds, so you can adopt transformative technologies while keeping your internet and connected systems up and running. 

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

DSL offers a reliable internet connection over regular telephone lines or cable to deliver fast download speeds. Because DSL uses a dedicated phone line or cable, it is distance sensitive with stable and consistent speeds, often slower than other options. Verizon business DSL service, "Business internet," is available in many areas.

Cable

Cable delivers data through coaxial cables. It was developed as an upgrade from traditional "over-the-air" broadcasting and is available to customers with distribution lines in their area. One key disadvantage to cable technology is that customers in a geographic area share the bandwidth; they may experience slow response times during peak periods.

Satellite

Satellite connections use satellites to beam the internet feed wirelessly to a customer's installed satellite dish. However, satellite services tend to be both slower and more expensive than other technologies. For customers in rural areas, satellites are often the only broadband option. They are also limited in connecting to streaming content, and the weather can disrupt service.

Small business internet providers: 7 factors to consider

When it comes to small business internet providers, not all providers are the same. When evaluating small business internet service, look for a provider that offers a complete and reliable communication solution that will allow your employees to share information quickly and easily.

In particular, keep the following seven factors in mind when choosing a small business internet provider:

  • Reliability: What is the provider's reputation for reliability? Do they have a proven track record in the industry?
  • Service: How are they rated in independent customer surveys?
  • Speed: What is the upload and download speed you can expect? Faster upload speeds save time and help increase productivity when performing high-bandwidth activities, such as sending large files or backing up data to the cloud. Another essential factor to consider is whether the bandwidth you are buying is shared or dedicated to your business.
  • Breadth: In most cases, the faster the internet service, the higher the price. Look for a provider that offers a variety of plans and pricing so you can find the most appropriate for your business needs—and upgrade whenever needed.
  • Support: If you experience outages or other problems with your business internet, how quickly can you get assistance? Does the provider offer online, phone, and chat customer support? How painless is the installation process?
  • Cost: Many ISPs offer discounts when you package their internet service with their phone and television service, a practice called "bundling." Some providers include internet security and online backup services at no additional cost. Check to see if the provider you're using offers bundled rates, often at a discounted price. Remember that the lowest price may not provide you with the level of service you need.
  • Contracts and Terms: Choose an ISP that offers terms you're comfortable with and spells out exactly what you're getting. Does the provider offer a firm, written estimate, spelling out precisely what services you'll receive? Is a modem provided, or do you have to purchase and install it yourself? Do you have to commit to a specific contract length with termination fees if you cancel early? Does the new provider offer to "buy out" your old contract if you are already in a contract?

There's no shortage of small business internet providers nowadays, and the best internet for your business depends on your organization's specific needs. However, all small business owners need reliable and fast internet service to connect to their customers and suppliers.

Verizon's products, customer support, and reliability make it the best choice for many small business owners when evaluating small business internet service providers.

Read more about other resources Verizon has to help support small businesses.

Amanda Chelsey is Senior Manager, Global Networking at Verizon.