On the list of things you need to get your business up and running, setting up reliable internet access is likely near the top. And if you’re like most people, you want to know just how long that’s going to take. The answer depends on several factors, including which type of internet you choose and what’s available in your area.

Choosing an ISP

Choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP) can be challenging. So many companies claim to have the best services, rates, customer service, and more, that it’s enough to give you a headache trying to sort it all out. The following steps can help you get started. 

  1. Find out who provides internet in your area.
  2. Determine which provider works best for your business (based on services and prices offered).
  3. Ask how quickly each provider you’re considering can deliver service.
  4. Make sure you can get the support you need.       

You may know the internet you need for your business, but actually getting that service depends on the resources available at your location. Some ISPs don’t have the services you need at the location you want. In that case, you’ll have to explore your options. For example, you may have to settle for lower speed or go with a broadband or coaxial (coax) solution instead of fiber.

Sometimes setup is simple.

If the service you need, whether it’s broadband (BB) or fiber-optic, is currently available in the building–meaning if someone in that building already has the same service you need–you’re in luck. The install process will be quick with little-to-no delay. Usually, broadband services can be installed within seven days from when you place the order. Fiber most often takes 30 days from your order date.

Sometimes it’s not.

You may run into delays with broadband service setup. For example, if the conduit (the tube outside the building that holds all the electrical wires coming from the street) is full, you may need to add a new one. Or if the building has a contract with a single provider, you’d be wasting your time trying to set up installation from a different one. 

You can also run into delays setting up a fiber connection. If you are requesting fiber connection and the building doesn’t currently have fiber running to it, the ISP will need to build–that is, dig, trench and extend fiber to the building–in order to deliver the fiber services requested. In that case, the ISP will determine what construction is required by conducting a site survey or walkout to determine the scope of work. If the provider determines the cost to build exceeds their original estimate, the job will end up costing more than you expected. 

You’ll have a better idea of what to expect once the site survey is completed. 

What is a site survey?

On a “walkout,” or site survey, the ISP technician will determine whether construction needs to be completed to bring fiber to the building. If so, he or she will gather information for a design and determine what the cost will be for the project.

Obviously, if there’s existing fiber running to the building, the install process is much quicker. 

A build will increase your overall cost for service.

If a technician determines that a build is needed to get your requested services, then your project becomes a “high cost project” and you’ll get an estimate for the total cost. However, usually you won’t have to pay up front. In most cases, the ISP will break up the build cost in monthly payments and evenly distribute it throughout your contract terms.

If construction is required, the ISP will need to build through your property. In this case, they will need a Business Entrance Agreement (BEA) to allow them access to the property. Remember, once the project goes “high cost,” the rates go up depending on the build cost. It also pushes out your firm order commitment (FOC)–the date the ISP commits to having finished provisioning and is ready to turn the service up. A build pushes the standard interval of 30-60 days to 90-120 days.

The local loop

The local loop is a simple process. It basically means the ISP technician will go to the site and connect you to the world. He or she will connect from the street to the demarcation point (demarc).

The demarc is the point where the ISP’s network ends and the customer’s network begins. The demarc is usually located in the main distribution frame. The main distribution frame is the main electrical room in the building.  All the electrical wires coming in from the street through the conduits will meet in this room and be distributed throughout the building.

What to expect on installation day

The ISP will schedule an appointment for the installation and that’s when a technician will come out and install the equipment. If you have decided on the BB connection, the tech will bring a modem. He or she will connect everything, make sure it’s working, and run a speed test to confirm the speeds match up to what you’ve ordered.

If you go with fiber connection, the technician will provision a port on the demarc for your equipment. If this is a managed internet circuit, the ISP will have shipped out a router prior to this date (most likely an Adtran Netvanta).

The technician will install the router at the demarc location, configure the router, and run a speed test. Then you’ll get the configuration information so you can connect to the network.

So, how long does it take? 

How long does it take to get business internet? It depends, but you should be able to get broadband service within seven days and a fiber-optic internet circuit within 30-120 days if things go as planned. 

Consider using a managed service provider.

A lot of businesses find working with a managed service provider (MSP) easier than going it alone. And for good reason. With an MSP, you don’t need to shop around for the best prices and service. A good MSP will do the comparisons for you and bring you the best deal for your needs. Another advantage of using an MSP is that you don’t have to do the dirty work. The  MSP can help schedule installation appointments, send you maintenance notifications, open tickets, and more.


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