Selecting an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for your business is an important decision as no matter what the nature of your business, it's critical for your day-to-day operations. You might be dazzled by the promotions offering higher speeds and ever-lower prices, but as a business, you might be more concerned about practical matters.
Unless you're in the gaming- or online trading business, speeds are not even your main concern, and signing up for a 'cheap' service might cost more in the long run. So we listed the top 7 questions to ask when choosing Internet Access for your business location(s):
1. Is wired service available at your location?
Most urban areas have a very high fibre coverage rate for residential locations, HDBs, and large office buildings. However, if you’re in a shophouse, industrial location, or in an area under construction, good chance there is no fibre yet. Check your coverage here. If not available, you can look at wireless alternatives such as those from Blue Wireless which works anywhere.
2. What indoor wiring work needs to be done?
One element that is often overlooked is the wiring work that needs to be done at your location. If a fibre-point is available, you might need to re-use this, but note that the fibre points are often at the entrance of your premise or close to a stairwell etc. This is not necessarily the place where you actually need your internet access in your office. So you’d need to take care of the (LAN) wiring in your premise. If no fibre point is available yet, it’s a different story, as the fibre operator needs to work out an arrangement with the building owner, which likely requires hacking and construction, adding a longer waiting time and high one-time cost.
3. How long will it take to install?
Installation lead-time can vary drastically and is dependent on the location, availability of the fibrepoint in the premise, and available network capacity. If all is available, it can be activated within 2 weeks. If elements are missing or additional construction is required, it will be longer. So make sure you check up-front what delivery time is committed to you, so you're not stuck without internet when your business or office opens. Or choose a provider which offers wireless service first (usually within 1-2 days) and switches over to Fibre once the line is ready, like the MyRepublic Fibre/LTE service.
4. What is the contract term?
The common contract term for Internet Access is 24 months in Singapore, basically since most property lease contracts are 24 months as well. So, if your lease is shorter or you need access for a shorter period or a project, make sure you don’t get stuck for the full term. Some providers offer shorter terms.
5. What is the service level (SLA), and is backup included?
This is essential. Reliable internet connectivity is a lifeline for your business, and all grinds to a halt when your connection goes down. Singapore has a reasonably good track record in network uptime, but wired internet access will go down sooner or later, and when it does, your business will suffer. Here is a handy tool to see what’s down where here. Don't get dazzled by vague support commitments, get a line with automatic back-ups (which we are able to provide - or learn more about our automated failover solutions)
6. What router is included in the service?
With intense price competition and free routers included in the service, providers are usually bundling in a cheaper consumer model. It doesn’t provide much security and control over your internet connection, and if you have a larger area to cover, WIFI might be spotty, leading to daily frustration. If the router dies, is there any replacement, and how fast? Investing in a quality router or additional WIFI access points is a one-time expense, but will ensure smooth, secure performance for your business.
7. What other services are possible?
Most providers offer voice services now on the same line as your internet, so that eliminates additional hassle and cabling. Other services such as cloud-based security services and web filtering are also a good addition, so you make sure your staff is not just wasting their time and bandwidth watching Netflix (or worse) during office hours. And how does your ISP handle wireless connections and new IoT developments? All worth asking for the future.