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December 06, 2018

Small Business Owner's Guide: What to Look for in a Phone/Internet Service Provider

Internet service provider

Your office phone and Internet usage are an integral part of your business infrastructure, so the quality of your service provider can easily affect your bottom line. Although your choice in telecom providers will vary according to your location, you should expect nothing less than super-reliable connectivity and top-notch customer service from the provider you choose.

Become a savvier shopper by using the handy guide below to determine what your small business Internet needs are. It will help you become prepared to ask all the right questions while you're shopping around.

Speed

If you've ever been frustrated by a file taking too long to upload or stressed out when a video conference call with a client got disrupted, that's a sure sign you need to upgrade to high-speed business Internet. But how much speed does a small business with just a few employees really require?

For emailing, as well as light downloads and uploads, a basic package of anywhere from 15 to 25 Mbps is suitable. Do you use a point of sale (POS) terminal to process debit and credit card transactions? Then you'll want a faster speed, anywhere between 50 Mbps to 75 Mbps. For smooth audio and video streaming, working with multimedia sites and heavy file transfers, 100 Mbps is a good target speed. Be sure to also inquire about the download speed and the upload speed, which will make all the difference. However, your bandwidth needs will increase if the number of users and devices in your business grows.

Data caps

Ask your potential provider about any data caps, which are the limits on your bandwidth. Comcast Business has no data caps, so you can upload and download as much as you need to without worrying about exceeding your monthly limit.

Customer support

When customers are relying on you, you need to know that you can depend on your telecom provider if something goes wrong. Don't be shy to ask how quickly your call will be answered in case of any technical difficulties. You should also ask whether the company provides 24/7 support and how long it takes for a technician to come out and attend to a problem.

Flexibility

You think about the future of your business every day, so it's important that your Internet service provider should be able to accommodate your business as it evolves and expands over time. More employees and devices, more files being transferred, greater use of cloud computing — all of these things will change your Internet needs. Does the provider offer an upgrade to your service, devices or package for free or a minimal charge? Check into how flexible your provider can be, and at what cost.

The same goes for your phone service. You may not need a small business phone system when you're starting out, but as clients start discovering your business, the calls will be pouring in — and a phone bundle like Comcast Business VoiceEdge Select, which allows you to take business calls anywhere, can be a lifesaver.

Security

Your internet service provider should also protect your business from malware and spyware, offer anti-virus and anti-spam features, and include backup service in case of a server crash. You can also transition your data and business processes to the cloud with a cloud-based phone system for small businesses that offers safe storage and easy access from multiple devices.

Take stock of the bandwidth required by your business before you contact potential providers and ask other small business owners in your area about their experiences with the providers they use. A speedy, reliable connection is an essential investment for your business — and for your peace of mind. Take time to find one that truly matches your business’s needs. See how Comcast Business can help.