Guide

Choose an internet service provider for your business

How ISP pricing models work

Internet service providers (ISPs) use a wide variety of pricing strategies. You should have a good understanding of your options before deciding which provider to use.

ISP bandwidth pricing

The costs will usually be determined according to two main criteria: speed and traffic allowances. Most common pricing models include:

  • capped data usage limits – based on fixed monthly limits of data usage across your broadband connection (uploads and downloads)
  • unlimited data – no monthly limits for data throughput, but some providers may still have fair usage policies

It's important to understand that the monthly service charge isn’t the only cost involved in an ISP package. Other fees may include modem rental fees, installation fees, service charges, and early termination fees, among others.

If your package includes data caps and allowances, you will have to factor in the consequences of exceeding them, such as additional charges, loss of service for the remainder of the billing cycle, etc.

Additional ISP service costs

Check with your ISP if static addresses are included with the package - this will help you set up remote connections to the workplace. Also, ensure that you can use mail servers outside of the network for sending emails - this can be an issue with certain broadband packages.

Other questions to ask your ISP include:

  • Fixed IP address - does the line have a specific Internet Protocol (IP) address for your internet connection? This can affect how you use the broadband service.
  • Traffic shaping or throttling - are there any limitations or speed restriction on certain type of internet traffic at busy times of the day?
  • Hardware requirements - do you have to attach ISP specific hardware to the line to ensure you have support or can you use your own broadband hardware?
  • Security - can you operate a 'virtual private network' connection across the broadband line or is this prevented by the ISP's own security?

Website hosting

Website hosting fees also vary from one ISP to another, from free (though often limited) space, through to charges based upon the size and functionality of the website.

Most small businesses operate on a shared-server basis, with their site hosted on a powerful server along with a large number of other sites. It is possible to have a dedicated server, though this can cost significantly more. See also ISP website hosting services.