Help find a new internet service provider
November 3, 2010 7:08 AM   Subscribe

Our business needs some suggestions on replacing or augmenting our current internet service provider, which is also handling our phones. My goal is to from ISDN to straight-up voip.

Our current internet+phone (ISDN) service provider is AT&T, but it's through a reseller. We've had continual connectivity issues, with some days going with zero access for both internet and phones, multiple times per week. This is a real problem for us, not only because of the phones but because our sales/shipment/product management system is run off a web site. No connectivity == no customer phone, no customer email, no sales processing, no shipments == pissed off customers and loss of business.
We switched resellers six months ago in an attempt to resolve the problem, but so far it's the same finger pointing - AT&T has sent out multiple trucks but found no problem at our site, even when it is occurring. It seems obvious to me and the IEEE guy that the problem is downstream from our building, but no luck getting *that* resolved or even looked at.
Right now our internet service is a symmetric 1.5Mpbs up/down, and we'd like something more robust. A quick search around in our area (Columbus Ohio metro) turns up that Time Warner Business is offering 5Mbps up/down with additional higher speeds avail. WOW (which most of us have at home) only does 2Mbps up, which is bare-minimum. No Verizion available here.
Outside of Time Warner or WOW, is there anyone else I should be looking at? Our budget is reasonable, but not unlimited and we're not about to cheap out on this - we're already paying $600+ for poor service as is.
My simplistic plan is either (a) get a secondary internet line in and switch the phones from ISDN to VOIP and have our reseller route them for us (b) kiss the reseller goodbye and get say TW with a net+voip package. Any cost savings are gravy.
Any suggestions would be great. If you want more specific information such as exactly where our business is at, memail me.
posted by Old'n'Busted to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
From personal experience, Vonage was a great VOIP provider for me. However they are nightmarish to cancel (they have/had a very aggressive customer retention program which made a simple cancel request take upwards of 30-40 mins of me saying "no thank you, no thank you, no thank you, please cancel") Was a shame since their product did work reliably...just the cell phone won the primary number job.

With ISDN being the dinosaur that it is, I think you'll be better off no matter what you pick in the DSL or Cable (or FIOS if you're one of the lucky few) market.

I couldn't find a good list specific to your area, but these links containing providers might be helpful:

Cable Internet Providers
DSL Internet Providers

For what you're using your connection, you should be fine with a 5mb down/2mb up plan. VOIP demands little bandwith out of that, but does need a decent latency (low ping) to have decent phonecalls without timing issues. That is one thing to keep in mind if choosing cable, as you will generally share your connection with neighbors...if there's a lot of people on your block hitting bit-torrents you might notice some latency issues on your connection. DSL, while generally not as good on the uplink, does not have this issue. FIOS is a dream connection I'll probably never see in my area.
posted by samsara at 8:43 AM on November 3, 2010

I'm talking a little over my paygrade here, but if I were you I'd be looking at a local Asterisk/Trixbox install and paying someone else to maintain it if you think it's over your respective heads, and then run it over the fattest pipe you can get, although realistically, 2Mbits up is a helluva lot of VOIP traffic.

Asterisk/Trixbox means up-front equipment purchase or lease, up to you to pay someone for maintaining it---but really, if you've got dedicated IT guys they shouldn't have any problem handling it.

Regardless, you need to set up some rollover lines for when connectivity goes down, even if it's just a wireless data card for a laptop and someone's cellphone to route calls.
posted by TomMelee at 8:43 AM on November 3, 2010

We currently have an Asterisk system that we are using (Zultys phones on all the desk fwiw). The previous admin set up that system; it basically converts the VOIP inside stuff into the ISDN phone system. So part of my basic plan is to drop the ISDN converting bits. We own all the equipment that is inside our building.

I'll take a look at the links you provided samsara, thanks!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:45 AM on November 3, 2010

Check out some of the local ISPs to Columbia, Ohio'll find some that were initially established dial-up ISPs that are now resellers for cable and DSL lines...the benefits to you could be that they're cheaper, offer more business oriented services, and their support is local to your area.
posted by samsara at 1:14 PM on November 3, 2010

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