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Choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP)

21/03/15

Choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Permalink 12:19:00 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: General

It is easy to get poor service through lack of experience when selecting a provider for your broadband service. On behalf of clients I deal with most of the main providers and have developed a good feel for what's below par. The 'best' ISP can vary from one street to the next depending on the location of the infrastructure equipment and so my recommedations are based on the specific address as well as the following things.

  • Cost. While the lower the monthly cost the better, other factors can lessen the significance of this. There are constant offers available and so to get a fair comparison I take the cost of the first year and divide by 12 to get average monthly costs. We must also factor in the cost of activation, fault processing, supply of modem/router equipment, and bundling in of other features.
  • Technical support is close to my interest. I know from dealing with many providers for clients that this can be a nightmare when a fault develops. UK based 24 hour support that is technically knowledgeable is essential in my view. Length of hold times and ticket resolution statistics give a good indication of staffing levels.
  • Speed of broadband can vary. Some (generally the cheaper) providers will throttle speeds through traffic management, usage caps, limiting upload speed to artificially boost download, and ?fair use policy? so as to even out the demand spikes. I try to get the contention ratio and upstream capacity information to see how many addresses you would be sharing a common line with.
  • Reputation among independent technicians gives a good feel for age and fault tolerance of equipment, and responsiveness of field service staff. Frequent drops or noisy lines can cause much disruption.
  • Flexibility ? have staff the authority to be reasonable when discussing test requirements at the time of a fault, or when negotiating contract renewals. Length of contract is itself a factor in a market where changes are rapid.
Broadband plans and service levels change so I urge people to [have me] review the market and negotiate robustly at the end of each contract term - normally that's every 12 - 24 months.

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