Internet service providers (ISPs) are the companies responsible for providing you with access to the internet.
Because so much of your day-to-day business operations are likely to rely on sufficient internet, you’ll want to find the best internet access provider at a price that fits your budget.
When shopping for and looking at small business internet service providers, you’ll be looking for what’s called an access provider (newbie tip: be sure not to mix this up with mailbox providers, or hosting providers).
There are several types of access providers, including:
The specific type available to you depends on where you are located, but you can expect to pay more for faster access. Before you dig into the list of providers, you may want to familiarize yourself with some common internet/ISP terminologies.
|ISP||...short for Internet Service Provider, the company that provides you with internet.|
|Router||...a piece of hardware which directs traffic between your device and the internet, and vice-versa.|
|IP Address||....short for Internet Protocol Address. It distinguishes your computer on the network.|
|DNS||...short for Domain Name System. It connects domain names to corresponding IP addresses.|
|Protocol||...a method by which data is sent over the internet.|
|Firewall||...a security software (or hardware) which blocks malicious traffic, or other specific unwanted traffic.|
|LAN||...is short for Local Area Network, like your home network.|
|WAN||....is short for Wide Area Network that extends over a larger area.|
|Fiber||...is short for Fiber Optic, a method of information delivery with light signals - the fastest internet connection available at the moment.|
|WISP||...is short for a Wireless Internet Service Provider, often limited in speed due to the infancy of the technology on a large scale.|
|Bandwidth||...the maximum rate of data transfer on a network.|
|Latency||...the round-trip time of sending and receiving data.|
9 Popular ISPs for Your Business
The following list is one of popular small business internet service providers you might consider as you look for an ISP to service your business.
Dallas, TX-based AT&T is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world.
- Prices start at $40.00 per month (plus tax) for the first 12 months and increase thereafter
- Plans get you up to 100 Mbps downstream and 20 Mbps upstream
The company offers internet services to businesses that come with extras like anti-virus software for your email, a firewall, spyware, and spam protection. You’ll also get free Wi-Fi equipment.
The downside, however, is that you don’t get guaranteed speeds; you may get up to the maximum, but it’s possible that you get significantly less.
Explore AT&T’s business internet services at Business.att.com.
Cable One’s business internet services, called Sparklight Business, offers you options designed to “match your goals and budget.”
- Prices begin at $70.00 per month
- Speeds range from 25 Mbps to 1000 Mbps (download), and 3 Mbps to 50 Mbps
Sparklight Business offers five different packages from which you can choose, and if you bundle your internet services with phone service, you’ll receive a discount.
Sparklight also offers its customers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Learn more about Sparklight internet services for businesses at Business.sparklight.com.
Comcast is a readily-available provider of internet access, and the company offers several options aimed at small businesses.
- Prices begin at $69.95 per month
- Starter package gets you up to 25 Mbps
When getting started with Comcast Business, the company promises a 2-hour appointment window. Once you’re up and running, you can expect no data caps, 24/7 customer service, and access to Wi-Fi hotspots across the U.S.
Comcast is on the expensive side, though it’s business plan offers a higher speed max than many other companies. Like other ISPs, Comcast does not guarantee its speeds.
Explore all of Comcast’s business internet services at Business.comcast.com.
Cox Business Internet provides high-speed internet to business customers who feature redundancies that ensure improved performance. Cox’s cable internet services are highly scalable — they also offer a security suite.
- Prices begin at $95 per month
- Speeds range from 15 Mbps to 300 Mbps depending on the package you choose
Cox offers several pre-packaged internet options, but those who want a custom option can reach out to Cox for a customized plan. Overall, Cox boasts remarkably fast options that come with static IP addresses and security features, though their prices can be higher than their competitors’.
Explore all of Comcast’s business internet services at Cox.com/business.
FiOS is a bundle from Frontier Business Internet that offers users access to a 100% fiber-optic network.
- Prices begin at $69.99 month with a one year contract and a qualifying voice (e.g., telephone service) product
- Speeds up to 75 Mbps download and upload with the entry-level package
Like Frontier’s other business-oriented internet products, FiOS customers get 24/7 customer support. To get the highest possible speeds, you’ll need a router and modem that Frontier tailors to your business.
With FiOS, you don’t need to sign up for a long-term contract — you can pay on a monthly basis, but yearly contracts will get you the best possible prices.
Find out more about FiOS at Business.frontier.com/fios-business.
Frontier Business is a smaller national provider of internet services for businesses.
- Prices start at $24.99 per month with a one year contract and a qualifying voice (e.g., telephone service) product
- Speeds for the entry-level packages go up to 3.1 to 5 Mbps
Frontier Business offers its users 24/7 customer support. Depending on the plan you choose, you may see speeds as fast as 25 Mbps for uploads and downloads.
To use Frontier, you’ll need to rent or purchase a wireless router — the company does not offer equipment to its customers free of charge. More, to get the best prices, you’ll need to sign up for a contract that lasts at least one year.
Learn about Frontier’s internet for businesses at Business.frontier.com.
Spectrum is a national company that offers a variety of telecommunications products, including internet, telephone, and TV.
- Prices start at $44.99 per month (with no added taxes, hidden fees, or contracts)
- Up to 400 Mbps download speed
Spectrum Business offers three tiers with speeds ranging from 4x to 35x faster than DSL. All tiers, however, come with free email, Wi-Fi, modem, and desktop security tools.
If you need a static IP address, that will cost you extra, as well as a private Wi-Fi network (a public network is free). Furthermore, Spectrum doesn’t mention upload speeds.
Explore Spectrum’s business internet plans at Business.spectrum.com.
Video: Viasat goes as far as encouraging business owners to take their service as a secondary, reliable internet service.
- Plans begin at $50.00 per month
- Entry-level plans begin at 35 Mbps, with speeds up to 100 Mbps available to customers in certain geographic locations
Viasat emphasizes its cable-internet offerings and boasts that it owns and operates in-house networks. In addition, the support staff are available 24/7 to assist businesses with connectivity queries.
Find out more about Viasat business internet plans at Exede.com/business.
Comcast’s Xfinity is, strictly speaking, not a small business internet service provider, but a provider of consumer internet services. Even so, Xfinity has an infrastructure that you can certainly use to get your business online.
It will be slower and come with fewer additional business services, but if you’re just starting out or don’t need the fanciest internet, Xfinity might work well for you.
- Prices begin at $29.99 per month with a one-year agreement
- Up to 60 Mbps download speeds with entry-level packages
As we mentioned, Xfinity won’t offer as much as a true business plan, but for new small businesses and individual entrepreneurs, Xfinity might be more than sufficient.
However, there are limitations that might be problematic, such as device restrictions, annual contracts for the best price, and bundling requirements (e.g., you might have to purchase TV services).
Learn about Xfinity’s business internet offers at Xfinity.com.
What Makes A Reliable Business ISP?
When choosing a small business internet service provider, you’ll want to get the most reliable internet option that will fit your budget, given the importance of internet access to your day-to-day operations.
You’ll want to make sure that your ISP provides you with high-quality hardware, while keeping their technology up-to-date. Security is another vital consideration since malicious parties can interrupt your connection and cause problems. If you can protect your data, that’s all the better.
No Empty Promises
Above all, you want easily available, reliable internet connection. All of the features we mentioned serve one goal, and that’s to make sure that you have the best internet access whenever you need it. You want a provider that delivers on the download and upload speeds they promised when you signed up for an internet package.
The needs of each business are unique, and every business has a different portion of its budget allocated to the internet. As such, the best value for someone will vary. Luckily, there are plenty of popular options around, so you will likely find one that fits your needs.