Business Internet Connectivity

Home internet and business internet are two different things, don't be fooled.

Best Business Internet Service Providers in South Africa | WhichVoIP

Internet Service Providers For Business in South Africa

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A common misconception is that there isn’t really a difference between the internet you use in your home and the internet you use in your business, but don’t be fooled.

Although a home internet connection seems like it will do the job, a business internet connection provides the consistency, power, quality and security that you need to run a successful operation.

Having a good internet connection has become increasingly important since the internet is the foundation for VoIP and phone systems used in business today and making the wrong choice could clog your operations and bring your business to a halt. WhichVoIP is the independent resource for finding the best Internet Service Providers for businesses in South Africa. 

Ground or Air? Which shall it be?

Fibre Service Providers in South Africa

Fibre Connectivity

Fibre optic cable is one of the fastest-growing transmission mediums for both new cabling installations and upgrades, including backbone, horizontal, and even desktop applications. Compare Fibre Internet providers in your area. Find the best Internet connection for your business.  We’ll help you compare fibre service providers in South Africa, choose the best deal for your location, and then connect you with your provider. Save money with our Fibre Internet Plans Comparison.

Fibre optic internet is becoming the de facto and preferred choice for businesses because it offers superior accessibility, reliability, speed and performance.

Made with glass material, it has so many benefits over traditional copper connectivity, and with so many providers building open access Fibre networks, it is an ideal medium for enhanced communication, cloud-based applications, and general online activity.

Fixed Wireless Connectivity Providers in South Africa

Fixed Wireless Connectivity

Wireless as a technology has matured from a cutting edge “only-to-be-used-in-an-emergency” technology into a mainstream, and in many cases, primary means of providing connectivity.

Fixed wireless, also known as microwave wireless is where networks provide internet services from transmission equipment placed at towers in strategic locations, which connect wirelessly to local antennae installed on client sites.

Nowadays there isn’t much you can’t do with wireless networks.

Whether starting from scratch, augmenting or replacing existing wireline links, wireless is the high-speed data networking alternative you should know more about.

Why Fibre is better for Business

When and Why Wireless is better

Before you take the leap, some things you need to know:

Fibre Service Providers in South Africa

Fibre Connectivity

Depending on what infrastructure already exists, your provider may very well require permission from the authorities before they can conduct any civil or installation work.

This can have a sever impact to your delivery timelines so be sure to take this into account when planning your project.

Building a Fibre network is not an easy task, nor a cheap one. There are only a few who build infrastructure (known as Fibre Network Operators or FNOs), who lease this infrastructure to various Internet Service Provider’s (ISP’s).

Irrespective of the level of service your chosen Internet provider can give you, they are ultimately at the mercy of the Fibre network operator. 

Find out who this is, and whether you have an option between different providers? Find out why one is better than the next?

When you connect to a local exchange you acknowledge that if that exchange is, for example, driven over by a bus, that all businesses connecting to that exchange will not have any service.

If you want to mitigate those risks, ask your provider about possible fail-over solutions.

Fixed Wireless Connectivity Providers in South Africa

Fixed Wireless Connectivity

Since wireless requires the physical installation of a dish or antenna, it may be necessary to receive consent from your landlord for this equipment to be installed.

If you do not own the building which your business operates from, then your provider will most likely require written consent from the Landlord before any installations will commence.

There are two broad subsections within the greater wireless access technology family, simply unlicensed products and licensed products.

Both have a vital role to fulfil and are viable technologies but they must be applied to the correct requirement.

The biggest disadvantage of using unlicensed technologies is simply the risk of interference from other devices using the same unregulated piece of spectrum.

The biggest advantage of using unlicensed technology is the relatively low cost. The attractiveness of the low cost makes sense in the correct area but the short term benefits of low cost are not worth the risk in areas with a high noise floor. Anywhere in Gauteng, an unlicensed link may be a perfect option for a very small business using data services only but certainly not for anything bigger than a very small business. In the middle of Burgersfort, it may make sense for a big company to make use of unlicensed technology.

With fixed wireless, you have a physical dish or antenna installed on your premises which needs direct line of sight to its base station, connecting you into the service provider network.

If for whatever reason, your dish moves position or the sight is intercepted, you will suffer from degraded service, and possibly even full service interruption.

Ready to go?

Questions to ask your provider

In the case of Wireless or Fibre, getting service is always subject to whether there is infrastructure available to connect your business.

For Fibre, this could be how far the Fibre termination point is – perhaps on the street curb or is it in the basement of your building, and only need to be connected to your office?

For wireless, this is usually whether there is direct line of sight from the provider’s tower to the roof or point of your building where they will place their antennae.

It is due to this, that it is always necessary for the provider to do a feasibility analysis. In this, they will understand what infrastructure exists already, or what infrastructure will need to be implemented (and at what cost) to deliver service to your location.

This really depends on the provider who will usually conduct a feasibility analysis to identify if there is available infrastructure or signal for your premises.

Most providers will advertise the areas they reach on a coverage map of some sorts.

Once feasibility has been approved, the process could take from 4 weeks up to 6 months depending on how much infrastructure needs to be installed or built.

In some cases, when ordering Fibre services, we have seen some carriers provide customers with temporary wireless services to use while the Fibre infrastructure is being built.

Most systems can be designed to provide near 100% uptime and availability (outside of downtime required for maintenance) both in the provider’s network, and on your site.

You must understand the factors which could impact your connection, and ask what steps your provider has in place to mitigate these risks, and how they handle these occurrences as they come along.

Lastly, depending on how critical it is for your business to have connectivity, you may want to consider having multiple links at your site, such as a mix of both fibre and wireless. This could prove effective in combatting any issues on either the fixed or wireless networks.

This is determined by several factors, but mostly based on the package which you have purchased, and also begs the question of how fast of an internet line do you actually need? The answer is very much based on your businesses specific requirements considering the size of your business and the type of business operation.

Even if the equipment you were provided can carry higher speeds, you may be limited by the service you have subscribed to which has specific policies for throttling, shaping or contention ratios.

What is the contention ratio?

It is simply a ratio used to measure the extent of the sharing of infrastructure between multiple users or customers.

A typical contention ratio for services is 10:1, meaning that the connection the network provider has put in their network has been provisioned to provide services for up to 10 parties.

It is not financially viable for providers to sell low-price internet services with low contention ratios since networks are costly to build and to operate.

For corporate connections and/or demanding environments, providers are known to be able to deliver dedicated 1:1 connections or lower contention services.

This is usually determined by the package you have purchased.

Although there are a lot of providers offering uncapped data packages, the question should always be asked of how much data you actually require for your business?

Having a set package allows the provider to also control where their capacity needs to be channelled, and can work towards providing a better quality of service, whereas if everyone is on uncapped package then it is a free for all and there is always bound to inconsistent quality connections.

Look at the options available from your provider, and ask them whether there is any quality difference between uncapped and capped packages.

Jumping into a new agreement is not always seamless, and you need to make sure that your new provider understands exactly what services you have at present, and what is required once you move services.

Services which need to be considered include lines which may be in contract, hosting with a different internet provider who has issued you an email address on their service (for example, yourname@internetprovider.com) which may be cancelled if you cancel the hosting package.

When it comes to telephone services, understand what lines are in use, and what is needed to move your telephone service over to a new provider. There will be porting involved, and in most cases, you will need a new VoIP device or handset which becomes your new phone.

Most importantly, understand your current contractual obligations and what services or functionality you possibly will lose by moving to another provider.

Work with your chosen provider to understand all the FIXED and VARIABLE costs involved in receiving the service for your business.

Fixed Costs – are usually made up of line rentals, subscriptions, hardware and service level agreements.

Variable Costs – are made up from usage-based services or ad hoc services, including any out-of-bundle charges.

Ask what costs there are at the different stages of your partnership too.

Start-up Costs – these could be costs related to any service activation, installation and provisioning, training and hardware required for the service.

Note: If there are no setup or hardware costs, make sure that you understand whether you are liable for any of these costs at any stage of the partnership.

Subscription Costs – these are the anticipated costs for use of the services. Be sure to understand what other costs may come into play and ensure that you agree to those costs upfront.

Conclusion and Exit Costs – at the end of the agreement term, ask what happens. Is there a cancellation notice period, is there an automatic renewal? What happens to the hardware, and are there any fees for removal of the equipment or infrastructure?

Having clarity and complete transparency on all costs will help you to do an apples for apples comparison between providers, and ensure that you don’t sit with any unexpected surprises.

It is always advisable to read and understand the full service terms and conditions which will state the contract duration, renewal and cancellation terms.

You may want to place particular focus on notice periods, automatic renewal clauses, and fees associated with renewals and cancellation – especially when new equipment was provided at no direct cost to you at the start of your agreement.

Most of the time everything should work as expected, but when it doesn’t, the real difference between providers can be realised.

Each service should be accompanied by a service level agreement which will give a clear understanding of how you can expect to be supported.

Questions you may want to ask you provider include:

  • What are your coverage hours?
  • How can I contact support?
  • How long will you take to respond to my request?
  • How long will it take to resolve my issue?
  • Is there a cost for support? When do costs apply?
  • What happens if I am not happy with the level of support I receive?

 

This is where it becomes extremely important to research the various providers before you make your decision! Read past customer reviews, see what their other customers have to say about them online, and don’t be shy to ask for references which you can personally contact!

The best way to protect yourself against rouge products is to insist on a watertight SLA.

Service providers peddling cheap and nasty hardware and services may be reluctant to offer an SLA with penalties if they are aware of the deficiencies of the products they are using.

Network uptime and guarantees

Make sure you understand more about the network your service provider has built or manages. Ask what network redundancy and resiliency is in place, and what uptime guarantees there are? If these are important to you, then they will be important to the service provider too.

Network and device monitoring

Find out whether your chosen provider monitors your connection and the hardware which connects you to their network. Will they know about connectivity issues before you do? And what happens in the case of faulty hardware? What will it take to restore services and at whose cost for collection, delivery and provisioning?

There are a number of industry associations such as the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) and the Wireless Access Service Providers Association (WAPA) which play a vital role in maintaining a high quality standard between providers, and often also act as a conduit between the network providers and government to drive the industry forward.

Learn more about these organisations here:

Internet Service Providers Association 

Wireless Access Service Providers Association 

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