Internet Service Providers
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide you with access to the internet, for a fee. They sometimes bundle this with other services, notably phone, email and web hosting.
The best recommendation you can get for an ISP is from an organisation:
- in a nearby location
- with similar needs to yours
- that is happy with the cost and service provided by their ISP.
Your location will dictate how good the internet access is. Some ISPs work well in some areas and not in others.
Consider the organisation's usage needs. Do you need just email and web browsing? Do you need to download video and audio files?
If considering switching to another ISP, get a log of your usage over the last 12 months from your current provider. This will help you to pick the most suitable package.
Mostly you'll be concerned with:
- download limits
- costs and contracts
- other services (such as phone, email, website hosting, mobile internet access).
For cost and service-quality comparisons for ISPs (and for phone services, VOIP – voice over internet protocol and the like) see the forums as www.whirlpool.net.au. Keep in mind that a local recommendation is best.
Go for the fastest service you can afford. Get an idea of what's suitable from friends or colleagues.
This will be dependant on your specific needs. Most CLC's needs are relatively light. Check your usage log (available from your current ISP) or comapre your usage to that of a like organisation. The following require higher download limits:
- watching/downloading video
- downloading/listening to music/radio
- downloading software or software updates
- sending/receiving large documents (especially those with images).
Exceeding your download limit
Some ISPs give you the option of 'shaping' or slowing down the speed (at no cost) when you reach your limit. Others charge significant fees for every download after the limit has been passed.
If you find your are always going over your limit, re-assess your plan. ISPs will be happy to put you onto a higher plan (but not always the other way around).
Contracts are typically for 12 or 24 months. Longer contracts often come with cheaper (or free) hardware or setup. However, being locked into a longer contract may not be worth the initial savings. When you first start a service, try and have no contract. If things go well, consider a contract with some of the cheaper options.
Some ISPs provide other services such as email and website hosting. This sounds convenient but isn't necessarily a good idea. You should analyse all of these things on a case-by-case basis and compare what other ISPs are offering.
Phones and internet seem a logical coupling but sometimes this means one or the other is not up to scratch.
Email should be sourced from somewhere else, either through your website hosting arrangement or the BBS. Otherwise, your email addresses will include the name of your ISP (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). This is also a problem if you change ISPs. You are better off establishing an address like email@example.com.
Website hosting is a different business all together. Your ISP (or phone provider) might do this well – but they may not. Compare them to other providers that specialise in this service service.
'Bundling' such other services with internet access can be very restrictive when you find that one part of the bundle isn't quite what you envisioned.
Mobile internet devices
If staff travel a lot, consider buying a device for accessing the internet on the road. Such devices can often be bundled with internet provision for the office.
Bear in mind where staff travel. If it's often to rural/regional areas, you'll want to go with one of the more established providers – and you'll probably pay more.
These devices work like mobile-phone contracts. A pre-paid service is a good way to work out your needs before signing an (expensive) contract. Pre-paid services are also good for sporadic use.
Wireless internet access (Wi-Fi) is available in many hotels, cafes etc. This may negate your need for a mobile device.