Ten Ways to Make Your Life As an Internet Provider Easier

From ISPs and WISPs to networks in libraries, businesses, and universities, Internet use is on the rise. Yet, as the demand for Internet access continues to grow around the world, so do both the opportunities and challenges for service providers. Just as quickly as your user-base grows, the obstacles facing providers begin to emerge.From competition to unhappy customers, the venture that once seemed certain to succeed can quickly test the will of even the most battle-hardened and tech savvy business owners and network administrators. However, for all types of Internet providers, there are ways to make the process smoother.

For All Providers…

1. Set Boundaries from the Start – When starting up a new service, don’t let your users run wide open. You may be OK without putting rate caps on users when you have only 10 users sharing a 10 meg link, but when you get to 100 users sharing a 10 meg link, you’ll need to put rate caps on them all. The problem with waiting is that your original users will become accustomed to higher speeds and will not be happy with sharing as your business expands – unless you enforce some reasonable restrictions up front.

2. Keep Your Network from Locking Up – Many Internet providers believe that if they set maximum rate caps for their users that their network is safe from locking up due to congestion. However, if you are oversold on your contention ratios, you will lock up and simple rate limits are not enough. Don’t make this mistake.

This may sound obvious, but let me spell it out. We often run into operators with 500 users on a 20-meg link. They then offer two rate plans – 1 meg up and down for consumers and 5 megs up and down for businesses. Next, they put rate caps on each type of user to ensure they don’t exceed their allotted amount. Somehow, this is supposed to exonerate the operator from being oversold. This is all well and good, but if you do the math, 500 users on a 20 meg link will overwhelm your link at some point and nobody will be able to get anywhere close to their “promised amount.”

If you are oversold, you will need something more than rate limits to prevent lockups. At some point, you will need to go with a layer-7 shaper such as Packeteer or Allot NetEnforcer. Or, you can use a NetEqualizer. Your only other option is to keep adding bandwidth.

3. Good Tech Support Is a Must – Don’t put all your faith into the local guru who set up your network. There are many good technical people out there and there are many more that will make a mess of your business. This can create some really tough decisions. I like to use this analogy:

I’m not a concert pianist – not even close – so I can’t tell the guy that hacks away playing Beatles tunes in the piano bar at my local pub from a Julliard trained pianist. Since I can’t play a lick, they all amaze me. Well, the same holds true for non-technical business owners hiring network techs or developers. They all seem amazingly smart when in fact they may run you into the ground. The only way to tell is to find somebody with a really good track record of making things work for people. So, ask around.

The good ones have no vested interest in making a custom dynasty of your business (another thing to watch out for). It’s like the doctor who needs the patient to stay sick. You don’t want that. Poor or misguided tech support may be the single largest cause for failed ISPs or issues with selling your business.

4. Don’t Overspend – ISPs and WISPs, remember that on the open market your business is likely only to be valued at three quarters of your revenue, so don’t delude yourself and overspend on equipment and borrowing thinking that a white night will come along. If your revenue is $500,000 per year, you will be in good shape if you get $400,000 for your business. And this may just cover your debt. Yes, there are exceptions and you might get a bit more, but don’t expect two-times your revenue. It’s just not going to happen, so plan your expenses accordingly.

For network administrators in both public and private companies and institutions, funding is not always a given. Budget cuts and funding reallocation can leave administrators in a bind. So, be judicious when planning and managing your network. Take things like recurring costs and licensing fees into consideration when making purchases. Over time, these expenses can add up.

5. Optimize Your Bandwidth – A NetEqualizer bandwidth controller will allow you to increase your user base by between 10 to 30 percent without having to purchase additional resources. This allows you to increase the amount of people you can put into your infrastructure without an expensive build out. Yet, a purchase like this can be a difficult decision. It’s best to think in the long term. A NetEqualizer is a one-time cost that will pay for itself in about 4 months. On the other hand, purchasing additional bandwidth keeps adding up month after month.

For Commercial ISPs and WISPs…

6. Make Sure You Have a User-Base to Grow Into – For ISPs and WISPs, perhaps 500 households before you start building out. Yes, you can do it for less, but 500 is sort of a magic number where you can pay yourself and perhaps some hired help so you can be profitable and take a day off. WISPs and ISPs with 100 customers are great, but, at that size, they will remain a hobby that you may not be able to unload a couple of years down the road.

7. Be the Reliable Alternative – If you are in a dense metro area, and have the resources, you can offer Internet connections to hotel and business customers with pay-as-you-go services. Many hotels and businesses have unreliable connections, or none at all. Obviously you’ll need real estate across the street, but once secured, you can point a directional antenna into the building and give your signal a recognizable name so your users will connect. Then, offer them the connection for a daily fee. For many users, paying a small daily fee for reliable service will be worth it – especially if the hotel or business offers sub par Internet service, none at all, or a connection for an exorbitant price.

8. Make Payment As Easy As Possible – When a customer is delinquent on paying their bill, make sure you have a way to direct them to a payment site. Don’t just shut off their service and wait for them to call. For small operators, you don’t need to automate the payment cycle, just send them to a static page telling them how to pay their bill. For larger operators (3,000-plus users), the expense of automated bill payment may be worth the extra cost, but with a smaller set of customers, a static redirection to a page with instructions and a phone number will suffice.

9. Look for a Competitive Credit Card Processor – Your bank will likely provide a service for you, but they are generally a middle man in this transaction. There are credit card processing agencies that sell their services direct and may be more cost effective. These are no-brainer dollars that add up each month in savings.

10. Cross Market – Don’t be shy about it. Once you have a captive audience, there are all kinds of cross marketing ideas you can do for extra revenue. Done tastefully, your users won’t mind. This could be a special with the local car dealer running coupons for them. Or for something like a pizza place. There is unlimited potential here, and if you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re missing out on easy revenue.

Obviously, these 10 tips won’t apply to every Internet provider, but it’s almost a given that at least some of these issues will emerge over time. While there’s no guarantee that any network will operate perfectly, these tips should help steer Internet providers and network administrators in the right direction.

Satellite Internet Providers – How to Settle for the Best Provider for Yourself

It is extremely important that you select the ideal internet service that will suit you perfectly as the necessity for a prompt and high speed internet connection is very essential to conduct any kind of business today. If you happen to hail from a place where cable internet facility is quite poor and you have to rely on dial up connection, your best choice would be to settle for a satellite internet connection. Even though even the cheapest satellite connection will cost you quite a tidy sum compared to the regular cable connection, if you can afford it, this will no doubt be the ideal choice for you.

When satellite internet was introduced for the first time, there were only very few satellite internet providers who used to provide this service, but with the great strides that have been happening in this field, there have evolved umpteen companies that have made their mark as providers. As a result, it is not quite easy to choose a provider for yourself. You have to settle for a provider that offers you the ideal service, is most dependable and provides you with excellent customer support and comes within the most reasonable rates.

Most of these internet satellite providers have a wide variety of schemes to offer you. Even though most of these packages offered by the various companies are quite similar in nature, each package will have some exclusive feature. Remember that it will always be advisable to choose a renowned company as they are sure to have better offers as compared to other providers.

Reliability as mentioned earlier is of vital importance while choosing a provider. When you choose a provider you will have to rest assured that your personal, business and financial data will not in any way be made public or encroached by any other person or company.

Another important requirement of good satellite internet providers is that their system should be one that is easy to operate. Very often companies that are new in this filed make tall claims that they are not even able to abide by when it finally comes to be put into practice. So make sure that you finally choose a provider that offers you a very simple and easy to use system that seems extremely practical and well designed.

The three main priorities that you should look into are whether the service that these providers is really fast enough and have extremely quick file upload and downloads. Also enquire whether they provide you with customer support twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

With the internet facility it is not at all difficult to search out for the best provider out there. You just require a few clicks of your mouse to browse the web and find out which of these internet satellite providers will be ideal for your requirements. So, go right ahead and find the best satellite internet provider for yourself today!

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Changing a Broadband Service Provider

Broadband or high speed access to the net has continued to be a famous way of accessing the internet. This particularly because it offers much higher speeds than the other means of getting access to an internet connection such as dial-up connections. Since many important activities including business and education are increasingly becoming more reliant on the internet than ever, the need to make the access to the internet much faster cannot be overemphasized. Since the number of broadband service providers has skyrocketed, there is no need to settle for less speed. If your high speed internet services provider does not have the capacity to provide you with much higher speeds, you may be left with no choice but to shift to another provider. You can also take this step if you seem to be paying too much for services that are not worth paying more.

Is it always a good idea to make a move to another of high speed net provider? There are many factors that you have to take into account before you can make the famous move. The simple fact is that there are advantages as well as disadvantages of making a move to another broadband provider. At times, the pros might outweigh the cons. If this is the case with you, making a move might be the best decision. Similarly, you can avoid making a move if the cons outweigh the pros. It is entirely up to you to weigh the two options.

Suppose you want to settle for a new broadband deal, what are the pros that are likely to be associated with your move? To start with, making a clear indication to the provider of the current deal that you have prospects of signing up for a better deal might compel your current provider to give you a better deal. Most companies usually find it hard to lose one of their valuable customers and they are more than willing to offer a better deal if the customer makes it clear that one has prospects of signing up for a new deal. In a bid to keep you, the company that is providing you with the broadband service might just give you a better offer when they learn that you want to leave.

When signing up for a better deal, you must call to mind the fact that other customers are also making a similar move. If this is the case, you might face some problems in the future. Suppose the number of customers that are making a move to that company increases beyond its capacity to handle all of them, you will begin to face many problems which can be anything from poor services to congestion.

If you are about to make a move to a much cheaper provider, it will be a good idea if their services are more reliable. Sometimes it is usually vital to take your time to read a variety of broadband reports or broadband news related to the high speed internet provider you wish to make a shift to.