As you ponder the best broadband provider for your small business, you may realize the choice is more difficult for you than selecting a provider for your personal use. Broadband service for the home is convenient, and allows you to explore sites all over the web without having to tie up the phone line, or wait for extended periods of time to download online entertainment such as music or a movie. But when it comes to selecting the best provider for your business, the need extends beyond convenience, it is essential.

You have great products and services. Now you need an internet connection to match to make your business the whole package. Selecting your broadband provider is of utmost importance for businesses of all sizes, but even more for small businesses. Businesses smaller in nature tend to not have IT experts in the building to tackle any problems that occur.

A 2010 small business survey by the Small Business Administration found that those who responded indicated: “Internet service is an important tool for achieving strategic goals, improving competitiveness and efficiency, reaching customers and interacting with vendors.” Respondents also felt that broadband internet access ranked as essential to their business as basic utilities such as electricity.

Here are four points to keep in mind as you select the best broadband provider for your business:

Mbps Matters Both Ways

Consider both the upload and download speeds. Broadband providers advertise the speeds in relation to the capability of the speed when downloading. As a business, you may benefit from a decent upload speed to help upload files large in size. The upload speed is also an imperative factor to consider if your telephone system dials over the Internet.

Prior to making a decision, speak to the service providers and make note of the upload speeds attainable and make sure the speeds can support your business needs.

Maximum Speeds Are Just That

You may not always get the “up to” speed. Broadband speeds are dependent upon two key factors. First consider your distance to the exchange. You may not get the speeds promised depending on proximity. Next, consider the number of people you share your line with, commonly called contention ratio.

Further distance from the exchange typically means you will experience a slower connection. This is based on whether you have ADSL broadband, or fibre optic. A fibre optic connection tends to provide a medium resulting in speeds closer to what a broadband company offers.

The contention ratio is not as simple to predict. Most business broadband connections have a ratio of less than 20:1, typically seen as low as 5:1. However, different service providers have their own ratios they choose to use.

Ask prospective providers about the speeds that are available in your area. Make sure you have the ability to cancel your service if the speed they guarantee is not delivered.

Secondary Internet Line

Nearly all businesses rely on the internet connection in order for a smooth day at the office, and would struggle in the event their service was down. Internet connections have become the foundation of nearly all businesses, leading to effective sales and communication. Because of this fact, a secondary internet connection to backup your first is a smart idea.

There are a number of devices that are made to handle two internet connections. Most even have the ability to switch automatically to the second line, should a problem arise with your primary line. This helps prevent critical business information from getting lost.

If you have two internet lines, you may select different providers for your connections. A slight increase in cost is worth it as an alternative to shutting down your business due to the inability to work without the internet, or the potential loss of a client who is unable to reach you while the internet connection is down.

Tech support

As you make the important decision of who to trust with your internet connection, choose carefully. Look beyond the broadband provider’s website and the promises it makes. Read forums and talk to people you know who have direct experience with the company. Make sure the broadband provider will provide you with a high level of support, if needed. As a small business owner you know how important customer service and quality is. Check into the costs of support lines and take note of the providers that have soaring fees attached to tech support.

Image via Shutterstock