Business internet service providers offer business-specific internet with stronger connections, fewer restrictions and more bandwidth than consumer plans. With dedicated connections, internet security, encryption and network protection, business ISPs offer more quality, more freedom to download and exchange data, and better security options for businesses. Popular business ISPs like CenturyLink, Frontier and EarthLink offer residential, small business and large business internet solutions.
Business ISP: What to Look For
Choosing the best business ISP for your needs means selecting features, choosing security and networking protection, and considering your bandwidth and downloading needs. The following criteria can help you with decide which internet options suit your business.
Network security is important for most types of business, even if you are only handling basic internet searches. With credit cards, online purchases, orders and potential data transfer, you need your connections to be secure. Depending on the business internet company, security might include firewalls, DDoS mitigation, email and web defense, encryption or even personally managed security.
Bandwidth speed affects how many connections you can have at once, as well as how much you pay for certain amounts of data and performance when using applications such as video streams, VoIP and file downloads. Most business ISPs offer service levels, and charge according to the bandwidth cap that you want to set. If you go over your cap, you have to either pay extra or you lose connectivity or internet speed for the rest of the month. For this reason, it is important to choose a service plan that offers the bandwidth you need for all of your devices and applications.
Network connections are important for supporting speed, download types and number of connections. The basic option is DSL, which uses standard phone lines, supports up to 15 Mbps for download and 1 Mbps for upload, or around 12 simultaneous connections. Cable connections are faster but cost more money. They require that the ISP runs a cable to your business, but they usually offer speeds of 50 to 100 Mbps for downloads and 2 to 10 Mbps for uploads, with enough bandwidth for a few dozen connections, or several point-of-sale applications. Fiber-optic cables are the most expensive but offer the fastest speeds with up to 150 Mbps download speed and 5 to 35 Mbps upload speed.
Hardware installation allows you to get your internet and other online services set up without needing to hire a separate IT technician to do the work for you. Most business ISPs only set up a single router and may charge fees for doing so. Other internet providers offer full installation. This means that they will ensure that all of your computers and devices are connected, although this may be for a separate fee.
Bundles & Packages
Bundles and packages allow you to add telephone, TV and sometimes various functions like remote IT, IT service, backups and VoIP (voice over internet protocol). Packages allow you to get everything you need from one provider, but it is important that you make sure they offer everything you need.
Choosing the right business internet service allows you to get the best internet options for your business, no matter how much you rely on the web.
AT&T U-verse Review
AT&T U-Verse offers business internet with Wi-Fi and hotspot access, bundles and internet security. However, with very few business internet services, the business ISP is more suitable for providing small business internet.
U-verse internet options include DSL internet with up to 45 Mbps download speed, but you can choose slower packages as well. The slow connection makes the business internet an option if you don't have a large server or data based VPB because downloading files of 5 gigabytes can take up to 30 minutes. This is a disadvantage for large business but does not affect most small business usage.
AT&T's business internet options include packages with email addresses, online storage, email download via POP and a SpamGuard to protect your connection from pop-ups and spam ware. You also get access to all AT&T hotspots and Wi-Fi with the connection, allowing you to use your internet from anywhere.
This business ISP installs your router, a backup battery and a Wi-Fi gateway for connecting multiple computers and devices wirelessly to the internet. The battery backup is a nice feature, because it ensures that you can still access the internet with your mobile devices if the power goes down, but only provides a limited four-hour charge.
With very few business internet services, the business ISP may not be suitable for larger businesses. The business ISP does not offer any security features other than anti-spam, no controlled networks, managed networks, cloud services or VPN, which does limit its usability and functionality if you need any of these services.
Package options allow you to get Wi-Fi and phone services with your internet. You can build your own scalable bundles with different speeds and different telephone lines, with mobile internet and calling available in the packages. An optional AT&T Internet Security Suite adds malware protection and McAfee Antivirus to your internet connection. However, this does cost extra and is not included in the basic cost of the bundle. Because you only get basic security software with the bundle anyway, you can purchase your internet security elsewhere if needed.
With no high-speed internet options and only limited internet options, AT&T's offerings are convenient for small businesses who only need connectivity and not much more. With no real business internet services, it is not a good fit if you need any network management or security with your connection.
CenturyLink is a business ISP with a reputation for offering a variety of business internet services including business mail, security, web services and phone. However, with a maximum download speed of 50Mbps, the ISP is suitable only for small business internet because it does not offer enough speed for large downloads or more than a dozen accounts.
Business internet options offered by CenturyLink include DSL connectivity with a maximum download speed of 50 Mbps. This makes the business ISP a good fit if you mostly browse the web and use email, or if you have a website but don't include large scale uploads, downloads or internet streaming as part of your business services or daily activities. The connection is suitable for three to five devices, which may not be enough for larger businesses.
While slow compared to cable and fiber optics, the DSL connectivity is suitable for basic internet access and supports up to a dozen accounts for normal web browsing. Phone packages offered by the business ISP include unlimited nationwide and long- distance calling with scalable options for adding as many phone lines as are needed. This allows you to connect additional phones as your business grows. Phone packages do not include mobile internet or mobile telephones.
Business internet services include web services and email options. These include web hosting, professional web design, website hosting, domain registration, web conferencing, instant messaging and directory submission, allowing you to get all of your website needs from your ISP. Email hosting and managing allows you to integrate antivirus security, professional email names, fax over email, and professional services including Microsoft Outlook into your email. The business internet services cost extra and are not included free with any of the available plans.
With no managed networks, network setup or managed cloud or content sharing options, the business ISP is better suited to smaller businesses. It offers limited internet security, with antivirus options only available for email. This may be a disadvantage if you're looking for a full-service ISP with networking options or static ISPs for your VPN.
CenturyLink offers a variety of small business internet services including website setups, domain registration, templates, design, web mail and some management. However, with no security and a slow network, it is not suitable for medium or large businesses that need more features.
Charter Spectrum Review
Charter Spectrum offers home and business internet services with 24/7 support, a security suite and 60 Mbps download speeds. With customizable packages, the business ISP is suitable for small to midsize businesses but does not offer enough business internet options for enterprise solutions.
Basic business internet services include download speeds of up to 60 Mbps, but you can also choose to purchase a fiber-optic cable installation, which boosts your bandwidth and download speeds. Fiber offers up to 10 Gbps, allowing you to scale your business bandwidth to exactly where you need it, although you do pay for scaling up. This allows you to get extremely flexible business internet because you can scale up or down at any time based on your specific needs.
Security options offered by the business ISP allow you to add full security onto your network with managed security, including a firewall, antivirus, intrusion detection, content filtering and traffic shaping. These business internet services allow you to block specific visitors, decide how much traffic can access your website at once and block unwanted access. You can also block viruses, malware, spam and attempts to hack your network and data.
VPN and remote VPN business ISP services allow you to add virtual private networks for your business as well as for remote contractors and employees working at home. This lets you keep track of all of your employees and to ensure that they handle sensitive data on a secure network. Other networking features include Ethernet, Layer 3 VPN and Wavelength with speeds up to 10 Gbps.
Cloud services let you upload all of your data for backup or quick access. You can also add on managed network services so that you can have a fully functioning network without hiring your own IT staff.
Charter Spectrum offers telephone and TV packages in addition to business internet. You can get one package with all of your data and requirements, including full support, VPN, Ethernet and security. This allows you to combine everything into one package for quick handling and budgeting.
With flexible business internet options, a variety of add-on services, security and managed networks, Charter Spectrum offers a lot of features for most types of business, but primarily focuses on offerings for small and midsize businesses.
EarthLink offers a full suite of business internet services with fully flexible and scalable internet access plus a range of management and security options, making it simple for small to large businesses to set up networks.
With multiple connectivity options including cable, DSL and satellite internet access, the business ISP offers scalable internet connectivity for small to large businesses. With download speeds that range from low 15Mbps up to a gigabit, you can scale your connectivity options to suit your business download requirements. Plus, with satellite internet available, you can add internet to remote locations, where it might be too expensive to install a cable. Cable options include DSL, T1 and Ethernet, allowing you to create private networks and access data in gigabit speeds.
Fully managed business internet services including cloud services, voice and networks allow small and midsize businesses to set up networks and content distribution or backups without hiring an in-house IT staff. Fully managed cloud services let you back up and upload all of your data into the cloud, with someone watching over it to ensure its safety.
Technical support offered by the business internet provider includes full 24/7 monitoring to ensure that you have connectivity and help when you need it. Managed routers ensure you get suitable configurations and profiles for your needs, because the manager can change them in real time for you to improve connectivity or provide fixes. Disaster recovery plans include re-routing of your business internet to provide you with as much connectivity as possible in any situation.
Business internet services include email, voice, CRM, cloud storage and file sharing networks, allowing you to use the business ISP provider for several of your web services. It does not offer network setup or management but does monitor through your router to control incoming connections.
You do not get security or security monitoring, which is a downside if you want to handle sensitive data on your network. However, you can add network security through a third party of your choice.
With multiple business internet services and full-time management options, EarthLink is a viable option if you need managed internet but do not want other features such as network setup or security. When combined with extremely versatile connectivity options including satellite internet, the business ISP makes a good fit for most businesses.
Frontier's small business internet options include various internet packages with a maximum of 40Mbps download speeds for up to 10 employees. However, you can also get Ethernet and private data lines with support for gigabit Ethernet.
Basic small business internet packages include four offerings with download speeds varying from 7Mbps to 40Mbps. These accounts include email, routers and installation, making it simple for small businesses to get basic internet options. However, these packages do not include anything in the way of security, tech support, managed networks or VPN.
Custom data services offer more advanced business internet with gigabit Ethernet available with scalable connectivity from 2Mbps to 1Gbps. These require that the business ISP come to your place of business and install a cable. Ethernet connectivity offers secure networks and 24/7 monitoring to ensure connectivity.
The business ISP also has dedicated internet access options, allowing you to get up to 10Gbps download speeds. You also get a managed router, reverse DNS services and 24/7 monitoring and customer support to ensure that you always have connectivity.
Private data lines offered by the ISP ensure fast connectivity from lines that are not part of a shared network. Because no one else uses private data lines, you get unrestricted access and unlimited bandwidth, suitable for instantaneous transfers and high-quality video conferencing. Business internet services also include protection and online security options which you have to purchase separately. These include antivirus and anti-spam options for computers, mobile devices and servers. You can also get remote wipe options for removing data from your devices. Real-time backup options offer storage for all of your business data, although you can only add options in a maximum of 100Gb at a time.
Enterprise internet options include a variety of additional features with customized options including internet pay and dedicated devices, plus mobile Wi-Fi. While not part of the basic business internet offerings, you can purchase packages with voice options including Voice over Internet Protocol, toll-free calling, international calling, office-based communication systems and digital voice solutions for equipment. These offerings are scalable for large and enterprise size businesses.
With a variety of business internet services, Frontier is suitable for small to enterprise size businesses. However, it does not provide managed cloud or network setup, which makes it less suitable for midsize businesses in search of a network solution.
Level 3 Communications Review
Level 3 is a business ISP with full package deals for internet, phone, VoIP, web tools, hosting services and managed office solutions, including free additions like access to Microsoft Office. However, with cable-only connections and data caps at 100 Mbps, and long-term contracts, it does have disadvantages.
A variety of features and services including VoIP, data management, managed networks, security, encryption and web suites make Level 3 a suitable business ISP if you are looking for a packaged deal. The company also offers phone services, data management, backups, tech support and web hosting to allow you to get everything you need from one company. A content delivery network supports video, software and web properties for seamlessly delivering business data around the world.
Level 3 uses a cable internet connection, allowing you to get TV and web services over the same lines. It also includes tech support and setup, ensuring all of your hardware is installed and set up by the technician, rather than asking you to do it. This gives you a maximum of 100 Mbps of download data, so you should have plenty of high-speed internet bandwidth for more than a dozen connections or several point-of-sale applications.
Managed internet options allow you to get professional help and dedicated managers for your security, web connection, data sharing and network services. This allows you to get extra help when needed. You can also pay for additional backups, with automatic data and network backups so that you are always covered if your computer crashes.
The business internet service offers multiple security options including DDoS mitigation, firewalls, custom filters, limited logging and reporting, email and web defense, secure access services and managed security. You can also get a security consultation to improve your overall network and website security.
Cloud connections, CDN (content distribution networks) and data centers make the business internet service a good solution for sharing data over the web. It is also flexible enough to work with small to large businesses, allowing you to choose the level of services, including maintenance, management and security, that you need. While most additional features cost more, you can add them on individually rather than having to pay for them as part of your package.
Level 3 has a lot to offer in terms of internet options and security, especially if you need a CDN. However, with a minimum of a 12-month plan, consultation-only services and extra charges for many services, it is not for everyone.
Mediacom is a business ISP with gigabit internet, multiple combination packages for web and phone, and adjustable packages for phone lines, internet speed and web hosting. However, with no security or managed network solutions, it is a good fit for small and midsize businesses that do not need additional features.
The business ISP provides fiber connections for gigabit internet, offering download speeds of up to 500 Mbps, allowing you to download data extremely quickly. With scalable business internet packages, you can also choose slower internet and scale up based on your specific needs and requirements.
With no management and no included security, you do have to look for these business internet services elsewhere, which makes the ISP a good fit if your business is small enough to not need VPN, managed networking or security, or you already have these features from another provider or company.
While the business ISP will install your routers and connect you to the internet, it does charge a separate installation fee for these features rather than including it in the package. You also do not get 24/7 customer support, which may be a problem if you experience issues in non-business hours. Packaged deals, including options with TV and phone, are available from the business ISP. You can choose options with up to 23 separate phone lines, international calling and toll-free numbers included in the deal. The included multiple phone lines are useful if you have to set up customer service or are primarily a telephone business.
Specific solutions for government, education, healthcare, finance, hospitality and customer care allow you to quickly find solutions that fit your industry. Small business internet services including mobile data allow you to add mobile internet to any of your devices without using a phone plan. You can also look for web hosting and web setup options, but you only get limited help and setup. Web hosting comes with templates, free email accounts and management tools depending on your chosen subscription.
With gigabit internet offerings, Mediacom has a lot to offer if you need fast business internet. However, you will have to wait while the company installs a fiber-optic cable, and customer service is limited.
TDS Business offers high-speed business internet over cable for data networking, up to 100 Mbps download speeds and multiple packages available for combining VoIP, Phone and management services. With a variety of services available, including T1 and DS3 data networking, TDS offers highly customizable solutions for most types of business.
Basic business internet services include high-speed internet with up to 100 Mbps download speeds, with fully scalable connections and router management. Included security means that you can immediately protect your business and data with secure routers, encrypted transfer options and encrypted wireless networks. Standard high-speed internet packages also include dynamic and static IP options, 20 free email accounts and 24/7 customer support in case you have a problem.
Other internet options offered by this business ISP include multiple types of data networking with SDI, T1, DS3 and MetroEthernet. These packages are suitable for a variety of services including connecting servers to the internet, managing business uploads and downloads and remote connectivity. These packages come with up to 256 static IP addresses per connection, making them suitable for a variety of business activities. They also offer additional email addresses and email storage, making them a good fit for smaller businesses just setting up.
Phone, VoIP, managed network, managed services and full phone systems are available from the business internet provider. It offers packages with management, hosting, additional security, phone and Voice over Internet Protocol all combined, allowing you to get everything you need all at once.
The business ISP offers security and protection options for blocking viruses, malware, hackers and attacks but also works to prevent unauthorized access. This makes the provider a good fit if you are using the network for sensitive or valuable data. Security includes managed network options, meaning that someone else manages and takes care of security for you. MPLS VPN allows you to set up IP-based networks for your business, and with customizable static IP addresses, you can add addresses per computer, as well as for at-home employees, with a maximum of 256 locations per network.
While TDS Business offers a wide variety of business internet services and options, its confusing array of choices and lack of comparison options means that you may have difficulty choosing a plan or package without help from customer support. However, the company does offer nearly everything for small to midsize businesses with some offerings specifically for big business.
Verizon's business internet offering, FiOS, offers highly flexible internet packages with speeds ranging from 25 Mbps to 500 Mbps, allowing you to choose the level of internet speed that suits your needs. While this business ISP offers highly flexible internet package options, it does not offer much else in the way of businesses services and has no managed networks, static IPs or business level security.
Flexible business internet packages allow you to set your data uploads and downloads anywhere you want, with average download speeds ranging from around 30 minutes to under two minutes for a 5GB file. This means you can scale your internet exactly where you need it to support different amounts of devices or specific upload and download requirements. These speeds support anywhere from a maximum of three to upwards of a dozen devices using the internet at full capacity at once.
High-speed DSL options are also available but offer significantly lower speeds, with a maximum of 15 Mbps download speed. This option is a better fit for small businesses or if you only need basic internet and don't want to wait for additional cable installation. Bundle and package options allow you to combine business services, telephone and internet. However, you cannot add on managed networks, hosting or VPN, which makes it a poor choice if you need these services and don't want to look for them separately. Cloud storage should make it simple to upload your business files to the web, where the business ISP offers scalable storage solutions based on your needs with encrypted storage.
Multi-device internet security is a good fit for small and midsize businesses, with features including firewalls, antivirus, password managers, social network protection, file shredders and call and SMS filters. This allows you to block out potentially harmful data as well as calls, websites and items that you do not want your employees accessing while at work. Premium tech support allows you to add full-time support onto your business ISP, so you can always get help, even after hours.
While Verizon offers extremely high speeds and a variety of useful functions, it may be best suited to small or midsize businesses that only have to connect a few devices. The company also offers no large business internet services such as VPN or managed networks, making it a good fit if you already have these services, or do not need them.
Windstream offers DSL business internet, with quick installations and setup, but slow speeds at a maximum capacity of 4 Mbps upload speed and 40 Mbps download speed. While Windstream also offers a variety of enterprise services such as dedicated internet, managed networks, web hosting and cloud solutions, it is a good fit for small to midsize businesses thanks to its slower connectivity options.
The business ISP offers multiple packages with different internet speeds, starting at 3 Mbps and going up to a maximum of 40 Mbps. Because they install over DSL, you usually do not have to run any additional cables to your business, which allows for fast setup and budgeting.
You can also purchase a T1 Ethernet connection, which requires an additional installation and a cable connection but does allow for much faster upload and download speeds, with download speeds reaching a maximum of 1 Gbps or 1,000 Mbps. These internet options are more expensive but do offer extremely fast downloads and uploads for businesses that need the connectivity for data transfers, uploads or cloud services.
An extra connection option allows you to add a separate hotspot onto your service for use by your customers or your employees. This includes a free professional installation, so you can be assured it's set up correctly. The extra connection is Wi-Fi only, which makes it a good fit for adding a service for your customers.
Other optional business internet services include static IP, which allows you to choose your own IP address. This allows you to assign a specific number to your business internet, allowing you to track, use with servers and add remote management. The business internet provider also offers several enterprise network and cloud services including cloud solutions, managed networks, compliance and help with colocation and connectivity.
Additional web hosting and design ensure small businesses can get up and running on the web because the business internet provider offers everything you need, including cloud solution setup, website setup and full design and development packages. Business internet and phone packages are also available with choices for one or more lines included in the package. All of Windstream's business internet packages come with 24/7 live support, which is ideal if you need assistance.
With basic business internet packages offering low-speed internet, Windstream may be a good fit for small to midsize businesses that need user-friendly services and constant customer support rather than the fastest speeds available.