While researching business internet providers may not be the most exciting part of starting a business, it might be one of the most crucial: Whether you run a tech startup or a brick-and-mortar shop, it’s likely that you rely pretty heavily on a reliable internet connection to get the job done.
And for business owners, an unreliable internet connection isn’t merely a nuisance—it can spell the difference between optimal productivity and distracted, frustrated employees; or even a sale and a missed opportunity. Essentially, the best small business internet service should embody the adage “out of sight, out of mind.” If you don’t notice your internet acting up, then it’s doing its job perfectly.
But there are so many telecommunications companies out there, offering so many internet services and packages (and, naturally, all of them claim to be the best). So, we’ve made the process a little easier for you by picking out the five small business internet service providers you should consider first.
What to look for in a business internet service provider
Comparison shopping on business internet providers can seem daunting (or at least tedious). Here are some guidelines to get you started.
First, begin by checking whether the provider in question is actually available in your area—naturally, this will be the easiest way to weed out internet service providers at the top of your search.
Next, consider the number of employees you have, the number of devices that require internet connection, and the bandwidth necessary for the kind of activities you need to perform, whether that’s video conferencing, extra-large downloads, or simply web browsing. And if your company needs more than one solution from your provider—like phone, fax, cable, or web hosting services—then it might be most efficient to choose a bundle.
If your office only uses the internet mostly for emails and other simple functions, you can certainly get away with a provider’s lowest bandwidth tier. But if you’re running a company with many employees, or if you absolutely rely on the internet to conduct your business, opt for the fastest speed available. And if you’re debating between packages, consider springing for the speed just above what you think you need. When it comes to your internet connection—which, for many businesses, is essentially their lifeline—it’s better to make room in your budget for foolproof speeds, rather than contending with constant disruptions in your daily operations (and, eventually, paying for that faster speed anyway).
But before you sign any contract, make sure you thoroughly understand its terms. Pick out where additional fees, such as early cancellation or installation fees, might be hiding. Flexibility in your contract is key, too. If you’re a quickly growing company, for instance, look out for your plan’s policy on upgrading your services fee-free.
It’s also worth checking out user reviews on your provider’s customer service. These days, there’s little more frustrating than spotty internet service—and an unavailable or subpar support system to help you fix it.
With those guidelines in mind, you can dig deeper into all five of the following business internet service providers, tailoring your research to suit your business’s unique needs.
5 best business internet service providers
The following internet service providers aren’t listed in any particular order. But based on a few key factors—including geographical availability, service speeds, customer reviews, pricing, and contract flexibility—we’ve deemed these five companies worth looking into first.
Verizon Fios Business
Verizon has been ranked the highest in customer satisfaction for small and medium businesses from J.D. Power for six years running—just one reason why Verizon Fios makes the list of the best business internet service providers.
Verizon Fios Business offers five internet plans, with download speeds ranging from 75 mbps up to 940 mbps. Prices range from $64.99 per month for the first year, then $69.99 per the month for the second; up to $214.99 per month for the first year, then $224.99 per month for the second. Fees and equipment charges aren’t included in those prices, however.
All Verizon’s contract lengths are two years, with an early cancellation fee of 35% of the base monthly charges for the remainder of the term.
On the downside, Verizon Fios Business is only available in certain metro areas in nine states on the East Coast. But they also offer several phone and internet bundles, some with the additional incentive of a Visa Prepaid Card of up to $200.
Pro: Great customer service and reliable connection.
Con: Service is limited to a handful of states on East Coast.
Spectrum Business offers three download speeds: 200 mbps, 400 mbps, and 940 mbps, with bundles starting at an incredibly affordable $44.99 per month. Pricing for other download speeds isn’t readily available on their website, however. You’ll have to enter your business’s address to find out which offers are available, and at which prices, in your area.
Perhaps the best feature of Spectrum Business’s internet services is that they’re all contract-free. Instead of the standard one- or two-year contracts, Spectrum Business charges customers on a month-to-month basis. So if you’re growing quickly and anticipate needing to upgrade, there’s no need to worry about locking yourself into a multiple-year deal, and potentially encountering early-cancellation fees. Plus, Spectrum services are available in 41 states, including Hawaii.
Do be aware, however, that Spectrum Business customer reviews are less than stellar.
Pro: Affordable pricing and widely available.
Con: Mixed reviews on customer service.
Servicing 39 states across the country, Comcast Business Internet stands out from the pack for offering one of the highest-speed services you’ll find with their 1 gig (1,000 mbps) plan. Other than this “Blazing Speed” plan, Comcast Business offers four business internet tiers ranging from 25 mbps to 300 mbps. And signing up for their Comcast Business Connection Pro feature means that if your connection goes out, you’ll be automatically connected to a 4G LTE wireless backup.
Pricing-wise, you’ll need to provide your business’s address to receive a quote. We were also unable to find contract details, but reviewers have stated that Comcast has two-year-long contracts, and their early termination fees are hefty. Also be aware that their highest-speed plan might not be available everywhere.
Pro: Super-fast download speeds.
Con: Large early cancellation fee.
Although Frontier offers the slowest internet speeds on this list—ranging from just 7 to 40 mbps—their bundle prices are some of the lowest you’re likely to find. And if you’re a sole proprietor, have only a few employees, or simply don’t rely too heavily on your internet service (if you run a brick-and-mortar store, for instance), Frontier’s lower speeds may actually be just right for you.
On the lower range, Frontier’s Business Max + Voice Service bundle gets you 7 mbps internet speed, free installation, a free WiFi router, and a business phone for just $49.98 a month for a two-year contract. Their highest-tier bundle, the Business Extreme + Voice, gets you the same add-ons as the Business Max + Voice, but with a 30 mbps internet speed.
Pro: Reasonably priced bundles.
Con: Low internet speeds.
AT&T offers a few business internet packages at varying speeds and price points. Business owners who want the highest possible speeds with the most advanced features can opt for one of their three Dedicated Internet Service packages, which offers customers internet speeds of up to 400 mbps.
Of course, you will need to pay for those super-fast speeds. Prices for AT&T’s Dedicated Internet Service packages range from $993 per month to $1,770 per month, and contracts range from 24 to 36 months. Keep in mind, though, that offer availability and pricing will vary depending on where you’re located.
But if you don’t want to shell out $1,000+ for your internet, AT&T does offer lower-priced options, too. Look into their AT&T Wireless Internet product; for either $60 or $100 per month, users get either 50 or 100 GB of data with a 4G LTE wireless device.
Pro: Super-fast internet speeds are available.
Con: High-speed plans can be pricey.
Which small business internet service is right for you?
First and foremost, the business internet provider that works best for your business is the provider that services your area—so always start your search by plugging in your business’s address. Keep in mind that providers’ offers and rates will vary according to your location, too.
On that note, it could be worth looking into regional business internet service providers in addition to the five marquee providers we mentioned here. It’s possible that they’ll offer internet speeds just as fast as the larger companies can, but at even better price points.
And if you’re wary about locking yourself into a years-long contract, make it a priority to find either a provider that offers a month-to-month contract, or that doesn’t incur punishing early termination fees. That way, your business can expand as much and as quickly as it possibly can—because the last thing you need to worry about is whether your internet connection can support your growth.
This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.