Social media is a helpful communication tool for businesses as it allows them to communicate directly with customers and engage them in conversations. Social media can also help you to increase your customers’ brand awareness and find new contacts or business opportunities. If you want to become active on social media, but don’t know [...]
IT Matters - Are you getting the most from your ISP?
What should you look for in an Internet Service Provider (ISP)?
In Australia we have in excess of 700 ISPs to choose from. If you just start calling around asking for ISP price comparison you are likely to experience something equivalent to walking into a used car yard asking to 'purchase a car' without knowing what car would best suit your needs.
So, to avoid picking any lemons here are some questions you should ask your future ISP.
- Do you have a help desk?
- What hours is it accessible?
- Can you email or phone queries?
- How long should you expect to wait for a response?
Why do you need Internet access? Is it for work, home or for your home office? Although all Internet users are interested in similar criteria including speed, connectivity and price, your priority may vary depending on the situation. Also consider your team (in many cases that's just you) and how Internet 'savvy' you are. Many home users and small businesses require substantial assistance in the set-up phase, compared with medium businesses which may have in-house expertise. If you have never used the Internet before we suggest you get started with one of the big players which has a 24-hour-a-day help desk and quick access to the help line i.e. less than a 15-minute wait.
Training.net.au has recently changed ISP. After much research we chose a 'medium-sized', Sydney-based ISP called Ram.net. They offer comparable products with an immediate response from a dedicated support team.Here are some other important questions:
- Can I get online when I need to?
- Once I am logged on, how fast can I expect to download information?
- Why am I waiting....?
Connectivity and speed is the next big issue. How fast do you really need your Internet access to be? Is it time-critical or simply a balance between speed and price?
If you are looking for standard access you should have a 56K (56,000) bps (bits per second) modem. Ask your ISP to link you to one of their phone lines that also has a 56K modem. As with any technology they will probably have older modems such as 28K or 33K modems. If you do not specifically ask to have the correct line they may link you to a slower connection.
Many 'unlimited access' packages will be designated to the slowest modem and their relevant phones lines. Some users experience connection speeds as low as 9K even with their 56K modem. You can only download as fast as the slowest modem link between your modem and your ISP's modem.
Other options include a permanent ISDN line for work purposes. These usually start from $300 per month. Permanent access for your home starts from $50 per month with Telstra Big Pond. Cable installation setup costs range from $95 to $400. ihug offers a rate of $40 to 60 per month. Cable access is only available in the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane metropolitan areas or where Telstra has underground cabling.
- What can I expect to pay?
- Are there setup fees and what are the ongoing charges?
Some ISPs charge a setup fee to discourage users from swapping between programs. Ongoing charges come in a variety of options including:
- Flat rate e.g. $1 an hour. This is justified if you only use up to 20 hours per month.
- Per megabyte download. Up to 25c per megabyte is reasonable. Avoid this rate if you have teenage kids downloading large files and games!
- Per hour. Great if you are only on for a few hours per week for email and reviewing the odd site.
- Mixed Rate includes a flat rate plan per megabyte or per hour plus extra where your bill for downloading exceeds the given limit.
- Prepaid i.e. $100 for 100 hours. Pay by month or by year and get a bargain. Ensure your ISP is reputable.
Can I dial a local area code for Internet access? If you are based outside the STD code areas be sure to select a local ISP.
For further information, please contact TrainingNet on (02) 8448 2622 to book your free net strategy session.
You might be interested in this upcoming event...
NEW: Social Media for Small Business Webinar Series
Practical ways to use social media to grow your business
Online Webinars - Starting 28 May 2013
NEW webinar series: designed to dispel the myths about social media and arm small business owners with skills and know-how to make social media a powerful force for business development and bottom line results.
Experts will present practical ways to use social media to:
- Build brand awareness for your organisation
- Network and make connections all over the world
- Build your personal profile and position you as a credible authority
- Drive traffic to your website, blog or social networks
- Convert social media followers to leads and leads to customers
- Grow you reach with suppliers, staff, resources, alliances, sponsors