Pros and Cons of Choosing a Small Broadband ISP

License: Creative Commons image source

License: Creative Commons image source


Do you have a hard time choosing between a heavily advertised national brand and a small, independent ISP? Then consider the following pros and cons when deciding which type of ISP to go with for your broadband internet connection service.

Pros

  • Faster internet connection services and less busy signal. For a similar broadband package, a small ISP can offer you faster connection speeds. The reason is that small ISPs have fewer subscribers that will hog the network bandwidth in a given locality. However, that is not the case with a major ISP that has hundreds of subscribers all sharing the same bandwidth in a specific area. Traffic congestion and throttling may not be a constant problem with a small ISP because its online traffic during peak hours is not as staggering as a big ISP’s.
  • Topnotch technical support. Small, regional carriers are known for their impressive and personalized technical support. That is not always the case with large ISPs employing entire call centers to handle their customer service inquiries. When you call a small ISP for help with your connection problem, you may even get a system administrator on the line instead of a customary help desk employee. The small-company environment of an independent carrier forces it to function with a nominal set of multi-skilled workers who can provide a more in-depth and hands-on customer support. If you own a small business, some independent ISPs will even send someone to visit your location, recommend an optimal broadband network setup for you, and assign a dedicated account representative to handle your business’ growing internet connection needs.

Cons

  • Limited coverage and broadband package options. Small ISPs are saddled with the need to cut corners on their network infrastructure so they can offer competitive prices to their customers. This limits the coverage and flexibility of their broadband package offerings. And because they operate under smaller profit margins compared to their national counterparts, add-ons (like data storage and free online tools) are rarely included in the broadband packages of independent ISPs.
  • Possible privacy issues. Large ISPs are generally under a more careful scrutiny by federal regulatory agencies than their small, regional counterparts. Moreover, large firms are more determined to protect their brand and their reputation. Privacy issues can result from lax policies in handling customer information. For instance, in 2010, an independent ISP named Pricewert LLC was forced by the Federal Trade Commission to shut down when the ISP allegedly hosted illegal content on its servers and spied on its users to target them for advertising purposes.

Whether you select a national brand or an independent ISP, the most important thing is to learn all that you can about your carrier. Is it sufficient for your internet connection needs? Is it within your budget? Are the terms of the broadband contract fair? Is the technical support and service level acceptable?

Finding a great ISP with the right offering can be a challenging task for many people. The smart thing to do is to research your potential carrier and weigh the pros and cons accordingly.

About the Author: The author of this article K Ong likes to do a broadband speed test every week.

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