Best practice: Choosing a satellite Internet service provider

Hughes Network Systems – This Best Practice is part of a collection of advice provided by information technology professionals on how they have solved various challenges, and addressed IT priorities within their organizations. The company: Producers Gin Company, LLC -- A cotton gin located in Theodore, Ala., that processes cotton from the field, removes the seeds, and packages it for delivery to foreign and domestic mills. The problem: Producers Gin Co. relies on the Internet to conduct day-to-day business operations. Their success depends on timely transmission of electronic warehouse receipts (EWRs) and reliable communication channels with the USDA. However, Producers Gin Co. is located beyond the reach of cable Internet and, after Hurricane Katrina, their dial-up speeds dropped so low they were written up by the USDA for late transmittal of some receipts. In an effort to maintain their business operations, Producers Gin Company sought out a satellite Internet solution. The solution: HughesNet Business Internet from Hughes Network Systems. With advanced satellite technology, HughesNet Business Internet service delivers a secure, reliable broadband connection to businesses no matter where they are located. Built for growing businesses and starting at $59.99/month, HughesNet offers seven business Internet plans to choose from, with download speeds up to 5 Mpbs. They also offer flexible billing plans and the option to instantly upgrade as the business grows. Who provided this information: Georgi Starr, Office Manager, Producers Gin Co., LLC How it worked: The specialty software we use is continually updating, so our download speeds need to be constant and high. Having a reliable satellite broadband service has allowed us to receive shipping orders, create and transfer receipts and download software updates very easily. Without satellite broadband we simply wouldn't be in business.

By the numbers

Many small business do not have Internet access

34.7% of family farm businesses don't have Internet access

26.3% have dial-up and only 26.4% have broadband

Rules for success:

  • Be picky: When you are looking to purchasing something that will literally be keeping your small business up and running, it's important to find a provider that has both enterprise experience and the high-quality equipment to go with it. Think of it as an important business investment.
  • Do your research: Very few providers have the complete package so look for one that will honestly help your business run more smoothly for a price you can afford.
  • Make it fast: Once you've made a decision, make sure they can process your order and install it quickly. Small businesses like ours truly can't afford any downtime.

Five classic mistakes: We found that the top five things to watch out for when you decide to get satellite Internet for your business are:

  • Support: Make sure that you can get the help you need when you need it and that the provider gives you easy-to-understand and easy-to-implement solutions.
  • Dependability: For our business, a reliable Internet connection is an absolute necessity. Similar businesses need to make sure their service provider can promise that they will have a consistent connection that will allow them to transmit sensitive information easily and quickly.
  • Speed: The service should make business operations easier, not more time-consuming and frustrating.
  • Maintenance: Always be sure that the service won't end up being a burden. Small business owners have enough things to maintain.
  • Ease of use: Don't get stuck with something that sounds good on paper but is impossible to use. Always ask practical questions about equipment and remember that your small office may have limited space for extra equipment and wiring.

Three must-ask questions:

  • Will the broadband service be consistently fast enough to upload large files quickly and to download program updates painlessly?
  • How much equipment, routers, cables, etc. will it take to get the Internet I need? Do I have room for everything?
  • Can I get the support I need, right when I need it? Do they have a next-day or same-day maintenance option?

Hindsight is 20/20: One thing we learned is that we wish we had our own IP address. At the time we signed up for HughesNet service we didn't think things through and thought that our own IP address would be a luxury but now we think otherwise. Final takeaway: We want to remind small business owners located in rural areas that slow dial-up Internet isn’t your only option. Satellite broadband is a true solution that will make everything run more smoothly and give you one less thing to worry about. Who's a candidate? HughesNet Business Internet is designed for small to mid-sized businesses (under 100 employees) that are located in areas where DSL and cable don’t reach and T1 lines are too expensive. It is especially geared toward the agriculture, retail, manufacturing and utility industries and businesses that find they need to speed up transactions, secure company and customer data, manage inventory loss and guard against disaster. For more information, contact Hughes Network Systems at 1-877-337-3880 or visit business.hughesnet.com. This Best Practice was provided by Hughes Network Systems. The ideas expressed in this article are solely those of the vendor and its client, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ITworld.

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