The Best Business Internet Providers
Ultimate Buyers Guide

Business Internet: Who Provides the Best Service?

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Picking a business Internet service provider is a big decision. With so much conflicting and biased information out there, it can be unclear which service is best for your business. That's where I come in.

I have done ample research on five of the best business Internet services available to date. In my research, I have found exactly which features are crucial to compare. Price and speed are the first two qualities to think about when making a decision. After that, it's necessary to break down technical details to determine which service works best for your unique business.

Key Considerations When Choosing a Business Internet Provider

Business Internet: Who Provides the Best Service?

  1. Comcast
  2. AT&T
  3. Charter
  4. Time Warner Business Class
  5. Cox

There are a number of questions you should ask yourself during the business Internet providers search.

1. What types of connections and services are available in my area?

As you can see, there are many different types of connections to think about when searching for a business Internet service provider. According to CNN Money, broadband users exceeded an average download speed of 50Mbps this year in the U.S.

Unfortunately, download speeds may be limited by your location. For instance, many rural areas around the country don't offer an array of cable ISPs with various connection options. It is vital to check which providers are available in your area. You can use an Internet service provider zip code locator for this.

2. How much reliability does my company require?

Downtime can cost businesses up to $16 million in productivity and revenue per year. This doesn't include how angry your customers will be when your service crashes. If your business relies heavily on the Internet to function, uptime reliability may be the most important issue to consider.

Some business Internet providers even include a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This agreement promises a certain amount of uptime annually for your service. If you have a business that relies heavily on the Internet's ability to function, you may want an SLA along with your service. The following uptime calculator will tell you exactly how much downtime per day, week, month or year your service offers based on their percentage of uptime.

3. How much speed does my company require?

US Internet speeds have more than tripled since 2011. The rise in streaming services like HBO-Go, Netflix and Hulu has helped this process significantly. These days, business Internet services offer a range from 10Mbps to 1Gbps with Fiber Optics and Ethernet. With such a huge range, it can be really difficult to know what you need. Your plan's specific speed should depend on a number of things.

  • Determine how many users will be active regularly on your business Internet service.
  • Think about what internet tasks your employees will perform most: downloads, uploads, video streaming, etc.

These considerations will help you pick the right connection via the perfect service for you. They will help balance cost, speed and reliability of Internet for your business. Fiber Optic Internet may be the fastest and most reliable, but maybe you'd be just fine with basic Cable or DSL. Making this determination could save you a lot of money in the long run.

4. How much will it cost to run the service monthly and annually? Do I want to purchase a bundle package?

It's vital to consider the costs of each service vs. their reliability and speed. How much can you afford? Is there a budget you must abide by? Some services offer up to six plans to choose from while others offer only two. Prices start at around $69.99, which is considered cheap. Most Internet services also offer business phone and Internet bundles along with TV.

A bundle allows you to purchase internet, phone, and/or TV services for one fair monthly fee. Some Internet service providers offer customizable bundles to suit your business's unique needs.

These days, business Internet services offer a range from 10Mbps to 1Gbps with Fiber Optics and Ethernet.

Important Factors to Keep in Mind

1. Customer Service

Customer service and support options should not be overlooked when determining which business Internet provider to use. Some providers offer live chat while others only offer a phone number and email address. You'll want to make sure there is always someone to help with malfunctions or a downtime emergency.

2. Commitment

How much of a commitment does each business Internet service require? Many business Internet service providers require that your sign a 1-2 year contract when you sign up for their service. Keep this in mind. If you end up hating your service, it may cost you to switch before your contract is up.

3. Extra Fees

There are various extra fees to consider when choosing a business Internet service provider. Installation, data caps, routers, modems and suspension fees can end up costing you much more than what you bargained for. Make sure you know exactly what your bill will look like before you make a purchase. If the company doesn't offer this information up front, they may not be the best choice.

Read More: After you settle on a service provider, you should equip your business with a top VoIP service.

Types of Internet Connections

  • DSL - stands for Digital Subscriber Lines. It is a broadband service offered by many business Internet service providers. Ultimately, DSL lets the consumer use their house phone lines to transmit telephone and data communication. This allows you to be able to talk on the phone and surf the Internet at the same time. Because DSL connections weaken as they go farther away, the consumer must be a certain distance within the business Internet service for a solid connection. DSL is much faster than Satellite or Dial Up.
  • Cable Internet - operates over digital cable TV lines in your home instead of phone lines. Cable modems are considered broadband. Cable is cheaper than Fiber Optics and Ethernet and can be quicker than DSL.
  • Wi-Fi - transmits information via radio waves instead of a cable; therefore, it's wireless.Many business Internet services provide access to Wi-Fi hotspots with their features.
  • Ethernet - is a method of using copper cabling to network computers in local area networks. It transfers digital information with electricity and can provide speeds up to 1000Mbps. Information transmitted with Ethernet is less secure than with fiber optic because light is harder to interpret.
  • Fiber Optic - is one of the fastest methods of Internet connection. It can reach speeds up to 1Gbps., up to 25 times faster than cable and DSL over longer distances. If you have an Internet-based business and Fiber Optic is available near you, it may be the best option. Fiber optic Internet has been faster than Ethernet in the past, but Ethernet seems to have caught up. It is made up of optically pure glass that carries digital information with light instead of electricity.
  • Satellite - is a little better than dial up, but not as reliable as DSL or cable. It is often offered in more rural areas where DSL and cable are not. Satellite signals are transmitted via satellites in outer space, allowing their service to reach anywhere with a satellite.
  • Dial Up - is surely something you remember. It's an old system that operates over analog telephone lines. It offers speeds much slower than digital cable and DSL because of its analog feature.

Business Internet Service Providers

Comcast Business Internet

  • Pros
  • Cheap, Customizable bundles
  • Live chat option
  • Backed by SLAs
  • Offers Ethernet Services
  • Cons
  • Varying upload and download speed reliability
  • Strict data caps

Comcast Business Internet Service offers cable broadband and fiber optic Internet with some of the best download and upload speeds available. Since many people already have cable for TV, its services are easy to access for millions of users. For those in more rural areas, though, Comcast may not be an option.

Comcast Business Internet service offers bundles. You can pay for high speed Internet, TV and phone services all in one bill with their Triple Play option. You can also purchase a plan for a business phone and Internet or TV and Internet with their Double Play option. All prices are as advertised on their site starting cheap at $69.95 per month. Its business phone and Internet bundles offer speeds of up to 75mbps and include Wi-Fi.

There are also some bad qualities about Comcast Business Internet service. Firstly, they charge extra for equipment fees and installation. Although other companies do too, Comcast is known to charge a little more than the rest. For this reason, you may choose to buy your own modem at a cheaper price. Just make sure to get it approved by Comcast so you know it'll work.

The second downside to Comcast's business Internet service provider is their customer service. Comcast Business boasts about 24/7-customer support on their site. Unfortunately, there are limitations to this feature. First, there is no live chat. Second, if your business isn't big enough, you don't get a customer service representative. That means you will have to call and wait your turn for any answers to your questions. You must also sign a two-year contract.

AT&T Business Internet

  • Pros
  • Offers bundles and custom bundling
  • Includes free modem and web features
  • Live chat 24/7
  • No contract
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Cons
  • Only 2 plans to choose from
  • Activation fee

AT&T Business Internet provides affordable, high-speed Internet. They offer Internet and phone bundles starting at as low at $50 a month for small businesses.

AT&T's business Internet service also offers a new Managed Internet Service option for businesses in certain locations. This includes Ethernet-based Internet with 30-day installation, simple pricing, contracting and ordering processes. Ethernet offers speeds from 1.5Mbps to 4Gbps at consistently equal upload and download speeds no matter how many people are online. If your company will be uploading, downloading and streaming a lot of data, this may be your best option.

AT&T Business Internet also offers reliability with an SLA. Their SLA promises 100% service availability and 99.95% data delivery for your business's Internet. One thing to consider is that AT&T has newly enforced data caps. You will now be charged $10.00 for every 50GB of data above the cap.

Unfortunately, if you don't go with their new Ethernet option, you could experience varying upload and download speed reliability. That is something to keep in mind when deciding between AT&T and others. Their services also require a one-year commitment, which is slightly better than Comcast's two years.

Charter Business Internet

  • Pros
  • Offers bundles and custom bundling
  • Includes free modem and web features
  • Live chat 24/7
  • No contract
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Cons
  • Only 2 plans to choose from
  • Activation fee

Charter is a smaller business Internet service that offers fast download rates up to 100Mbps. Charter will save you money with a free modem for all Internet plans offered. They also offer custom bundling and prepackaged bundles starting at $69.99.

Each bundle and plan comes with free security features and data backup. There is even a fantastic 30-day money back guarantee for your services. If you have any issues, Charter also has a 24/7 live chat feature for your specific needs.

On the other hand, Charter only offers two plans to choose from including 60Mbps or 100Mbps. Most companies offer four to six. They also have an expensive activation fee, unlike some other business Internet service providers. This may deter you from using their service.

Time Warner Business Class

  • Pros
  • Free modem
  • Ethernet services to link multiple business locations
  • Great infrastructure for long-term dependability
  • Offers one bundle with a range of speeds
  • Optional web features
  • Cons
  • High speed plans not available in all areas
  • Frustrating customer service
  • No Live Chat option

Time Warner Business Class Internet service provider has a solid infrastructure that is built to last. It offers one bundle option starting at $99.99. You can choose which download speed and price you need for your business when you create your contract. Download speeds go up to 300mbps via their fiber-rich network. Your bundle includes Internet, phone and Wi-Fi hotspots.

Time Warner's high-speed plans are not available in all areas. You definitely need to make sure they are an option before considering their services. Be sure to take notice of their data caps with limits of 5GB or 30GB a month. They could end up costing you extra. Lastly, Time Warner is infamous for frustrating customer service and there is no live chat option; beware!

Time Warner Business Class also offers a free modem with their services. They have optional web features available as well including web hosting and cloud services. One unique aspect of Time Warner Business Class is their Ethernet solutions section. They offer Ethernet options to help you connect your businesses at high speeds in different locations. If you have a larger business, Time Warner Business Class Ethernet solutions may be the right choice for you.

Cox Business Internet

  • Pros
  • Bundle options
  • Limited 30-day money back guarantee
  • Free internet security and cloud drive
  • No contract
  • Live chat option
  • Cons
  • Doesn’t offer service everywhere
  • Doesn’t detail equipment prices and extra fees on website
  • Price increases after 3-months

Cox Business Internet service is the 4th largest cable Internet provider in the U.S. It offers high speeds at fair prices at first, but watch out. They are known to increase prices after three months. Fortunately, they do not charge any activation fees.

Cox offers a bronze, silver, and gold bundle. Their bronze bundle starts at $89.99 with download speeds up to 50Mbps. Download speeds go up to 150Mbps and start at $109.99 a month for the silver bundle. The gold bundle offers 300Mbps starting at $129.99 a month.

Cox Business Internet service provides a 30-day money back guarantee if you switch from another network. They don't detail any prices or equipment fees on their website, but you can ask a live chat expert anytime. Keep in mind that they charge for modem and battery equipment.

One impressive plus from Cox is that they don't require a contract. You can always switch your service if you have issues. Just watch out for hidden fees.

What You Should Know

There are some technical terms you should know before you jump down the rabbit hole of Internet for business.

  • IP is an abbreviation you'll see often when researching Internet connections. It stands for Internet Protocol. IP addresses are a set of numbers that connect you to a specific website. Each set of numbers has a set of code words, which is the name of the website you're trying to reach. The website name is a just a readable form of the IP address for humans called an URL.
  • URL - Stands for Universal Resource locator. It is another name for a website's IP code name: the name of a website.
  • DNS - stands for Domain Name Server. Its function is to look up the URL you've typed in or clicked on and determine its IP address. Once it has done so, the data is broken down into packets of a sort.
  • Routers - are devices that receive each packet. The router receives and then sends each packet to the router closest to your destination, assuming too many people aren't using it.
  • Modems - are devices that enable computers to transmit data over. Some companies charge for modem and router installation while others provide the service for free.
  • Uptime - is the percentage of time your business Internet service provider is reliably up and running.
  • Downtime - is the percentage of time your Internet server is not up and running reliably.

Once you have an idea of how the Internet works, you'll want to think about connections. Every business Internet service operates using specific types of Internet connections. Learning about these types will help you to determine which one offers suitable speeds for your business. First, here are some terms to note:

  • Broadband - refers to high-speed, large data transmission via a single cable. It describes connections like DSL, Cable etc.
  • Bandwidth - is the size of the channel or cable that data is transmitted through.
  • Data cap - is a cap on the amount of data your service allows you to use in a month.

Once you have an idea of how the Internet works, you'll want to think about connections.What to Remember

I would remember to take these steps before making a decision on a business Internet service provider.

  1. Research business Internet providers in my area.
  2. Determine how much reliability I need and what each provider offers.
    • Does my business rely heavily on the Internet's ability to function?
    • What is their uptime percentage?
    • How is the customer service
  3. Determine how much speed I need and what each provider offers.
  4. Determine how much I can spend and what deals each provider offers.
    • Are there any extra fees?
    • How long is the contract associated with my service?

Take these steps into consideration to balance your decision. Use them to determine which business Internet service provider offers speed and reliability at the best price for you.

Business Internet Providers in Your Area

The first thing you should do is check availability in your area. There are many websites to tell you which business Internet providers are located in your area. Use these to navigate the map and view every available option.

Recap

It can be extremely difficult to fathom making a decision on a business Internet Service provider. This article is meant to direct you to the service that is perfect for your unique business needs.

Now that you know how the Internet works and what to consider before choosing a service for your business, you may need to learn a little more. For instance, are you concerned about Internet privacy? If so, you should read our review of the best VPN service providers. Maybe you are worried about Internet security and viruses as well. If so, you should definitely check out our review of the best antivirus software.

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