An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company that brings internet access into your home or office. You can think of this very much like the company that brings phone service or cable TV into your home. As a consumer, you should expect an ISP to give you very little interruption of your service as possible. When their service is working, it’s called “up time”. When the system is down for any reason, it is called “down time”.
You won’t see a lot of what your ISP does, but you will feel the results. An ISP, among other things, will monitor their service for outages and maintain their equipment so that you get the service you hard earned cash has paid for. Some of the things your ISP will do for you is route emails to you (if you are using an email address that they provided you) and perhaps store your emails on their servers. Therefore, it is important to work with a company that you trust. Friends can give you a good idea of what ISPs have worked well for them.
When it comes to ensuring that you are satisfied with your ISP, you must find a company that has good “up time” coupled with excellent customer service. If you need to speak to them for any reason, you want a company that values you as a customer and that has a helpful attitude. In many cases, you can get a very good sense of how your company values customer service by your very first contact with them.
The questions to ask yourself when dealing with an ISP the first time are: How quickly did they answer the phone? Were they able to clearly and competently answer ALL of your questions? If a person understands the technology they are working with, they will be able to answer your questions. Did they rush you off the phone? This can sometimes be an indicator that they are understaffed and have other ringing lines that they have to get to.
Customer service reflects the level to which a company is willing to take responsibility for what happens with their service. If their service crashes, will they be ready to rectify it quickly, and will that be a priority? Will they monitor their service with diligence?
You can have a local ISP which will most likely be a small, local business. There are also some ISPs that are huge, International corporations. They can often offer you more for less however the whole process is very impersonal and can be quite frustrating and limiting for the novice.