I speak with customers every day that are trying to shop for Internet access on their own and compare the vendors. Usually the conversation starts with: “Can you give me a quote on Internet?” My next response is to ask a bunch of questions such as:
- What kind of Internet service do you need?
- Are you looking for shared or dedicated?
- Do you want managed or unmanaged?
- How many years do you want to sign up for?
- Are you looking for the lowest rate or best brand?
- What do you use the Internet for – what applications?
- Are you installing to a business or residential location?
It would be great if the prospective customer already had the answers to these questions worked out but then they would not be calling me for help. You’d have to be in the IT business for some time to know that these are the questions that lead to the answer the quote question. However, we can quickly get through some of these to help you get through the quoting process much easier next time.
What kind of Internet service do I need?
You are typically going to fall into one of two categories of Internet services: Broadband (shared) or Dedicated (private). Knowing the difference can help you save time on any service discussion. Here’s the difference:
Broadband – this included Cable, DSL and Fiber services but keep in mind the key element: these are shared services. Shared means that the amount of bandwidth you get is different at any given time because you are sharing it with other people in your building or area. This means that you rarely get the amount of bandwidth you are quoted – if they quote you 10 mbps down and 2 mbps up you may get that much early in the morning or late in the evening but during the day, when everyone else is using it at the same time you are, you can get as little as 25% of the speed you were quoted. Also, keep in mind that there is no Service Level Agreement (SLA) that says you are guaranteed any amount of bandwidth at all. Plus, there is no SLA for when a repair guy will be out to fix your service if it goes down – everything is best effort here and this is why the price is so low.
Dedicated – this includes T1, DS3 and Fiber services. These services are more expensive but they are ordered and installed just for you and you alone. If the service is quoted at 3 mbps down and 3 mbps up, that’s pretty much what you are going to get 24 x 7 x 365. Dedicated services come with an SLA that guarantees you that amount of bandwidth and a credit policy that gives you money back if you don’t. They also come with a SLA on repair time fram which provides same day or next day repair guarantees.
I’ll touch on answers to the other questions in future posts so stay tuned. In the mean time, determine if you are a low-cost, high bandwidth but no guarantee Internet user or if you are the type of user that requires a certain amount of bandwidth to keep your business moving. This will help you cut the conversation time down and get to the types of services that meet your needs much faster.