BizTech: Selecting the “Right” Internet Service Provider

Selecting the right Internet Service Provider (ISP) can be a daunting task for any small business. Where do you start? The dominant players are Comcast and Verizon – but how do you choose between the two? Are there other options? What about download vs. upload speeds?

Factors to Consider

The first step is to define how much you and your employees rely on the Internet for getting business done. How many computers and servers will be managed onsite? What about accessing third party hosted cloud solutions? Or sending files to an offsite server? How will your email be setup? In-house or hosted? What about the phone systems? Voice over IP (VoIP) will require a more stable ISP to ensure good quality phone calls.

 Comcast vs. Verizon

In the Greater Philadelphia small business market, Comcast Business Cable and Verizon FIOS are the leaders in providing reliable Internet to business at a reasonable price. Verizon can also provide DSL connections at a lower rate and speed, but it is slowly selling that business to Frontier Communications, meaning Verizon is leaving the copper line business and dedicating itself to fiber.

Both Comcast and Verizon FIOS offer a tiered plan where you can select your “up” and your “down” speeds, usually starting at 5 Mbps and going up to 300 Mbps. Your “up” speed is when you send data to the internet, as when you are uploading your documents on the cloud. Your “down” speed is when you are downloading data from the internet, such as when you are browsing a website. You can check the speed you are currently getting from your ISP by going to

Prices for FIOS and Comcast are comparable, and are usually bundled with TV, even if you may not need it. Plan on spending about $75 to $100 per month on Business Internet and, in both cases, you can bundle your phone service for a little bit more.

However there are other options beyond Comcast Cable and Verizon FIOS. T1 and DS3 connections are more dependable and more expensive. These lines are much more reliable and providers (for e.g., Windstream) offer 99.999% uptime with credit back guarantees if it goes down. IOften T1 and DS3 lines are used to connect two or more offices. They is available almost anywhere, and pricing starts at around $220/month plus installation fees, if applicable.

The main advantage to a T1 line is that unlike DSL or cable internet, T1 channels is not shared or piggybacked by another customer, so speed can never be degraded by another customer's usage. But Cable and many DSL connections are now faster than a T1 line due to improvements in the standards used for DSL and Cable transmission.

Finally, not every ISP is available in all locations so that factor can automatically weed out one of these “top” providers.

Backup Connectivity Plan

Another factor to consider is your Redundancy Plan. For example, if your office welcomes customers or patients for whom your team will need to access files from a computer or cloud solution in order to proceed with the appointment, then you can’t afford to depend on just one ISP. A business can be configured with fail-over solutions that use wireless 4G connections when Comcast or FIOS go down. During the Ice Storm of 2014 we had entire offices running on 4G while Comcast was repairing their lines.

If you’re running a business, you need to consider your entire setup and needs before you make a decision on what business grade ISP to use. Determine your bandwidth needs and how long your office can run while your ISP is down – and it absolutely will be down at some point during the regular business day – without annoying customers or losing patients…. Or losing money!

Each Business Has Different Needs

Different businesses have different needs when it comes to Internet usage. Some companies need faster speeds, like banks or financial advisors. Others require more bandwidth, like health clinics and architectural firms. And some firms who rely on hosted cloud solutions to do their day-to-day work demand reliable failover – like many law firms and accounting firms.

As you can see, there is more to selecting the best ISP than just getting the best promotional offer.



About Bernie Orglmeister

Bernie Orglmeister is President & Senior Project Engineer at SkyViewTek An Information Technology (I.T.) consulting firm, SkyViewTek is dedicated to providing professional services or strategic solutions for businesses and organizations, from one to 100 employees, since 2007. You can trust us to deliver the level of managed services your business needs, ensuring a stable and secure I.T. environment. Our proactive services model will eliminate business disruptions and give you peace of mind knowing that your networks are secure and operational. As a result, you get to focus on your core business while we handle the technology challenges and opportunities. Contact us at 610.590.5006 or



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