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How Much Internet Do You Need for Your Business? Here’s What to Consider

Running your business in rural Alberta’s beautiful, wide-open tranquillity is a dream come true. But while the laid-back prairie lifestyle can be amazing, a laid-back internet connection is not. You need a reliable and fast internet connection that you can count on for your business’s success.

When it comes to selecting the right internet plan for your business, it’s important to select an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that understands the unique challenges and benefits of operating in rural Alberta. Internet in rural Alberta can be affected by rough terrain, harsh weather, and proximity to major urban areas.

Luckily, the internet options for rural Alberta businesses now are better than ever. From processing customer payments to managing operations and sending critical emails, your internet speed and reliability play a vital role in your day-to-day operations.

We’ve created this ultimate guide to business internet in Rural Alberta to help you hone in on your internet needs while considering the available options given the unique challenges of rural Alberta. This comprehensive guide will empower you to make the best decision for your needs so you can focus on running your business quickly and seamlessly.

If you want to skip straight to our business internet plans, you can review them here.

Let’s get started!

Understanding Business Internet Needs Based on Occupation

As of 2023, 28% of all business activity is conducted online. This is not a small statistic – if one-third of your business is online, you can’t allow your network to hold you back.

Just like your business, your internet needs are unique. The best internet plan for a one-person consulting business will be different from a large-scale manufacturing business. To help you nail down the perfect plan, let’s dive into the different internet needs by industry.

Retail and Hospitality

Grocery stores, clothing stores, bookstores, home and lifestyle stores, pharmacies, hotels/motels, restaurants, cafes, bars, catering companies, spas, event venues.

If you’re a retail or hospitality business owner, your main priority is processing payments. Even a slight disruption to your network can mean missing out on sales and impacting your customers. You might offer customers free Wi-Fi, which should be fast and reliable for them.

Technology and Software

Operating systems, gaming companies, software companies, cybersecurity firms, app developers

If you work in technology or software, you need more bandwidth than the average business. Think about all the coding, testing, and data-heavy software applications in your day-to-day work. From collaboration to video calls to cloud access, you need high speeds and enough data.

Industrial and Manufacturing

Consumer goods manufacturers, farming companies, heavy machinery manufacturers, food and beverage production, chemical producers

For those in the industrial/manufacturing world, your internet needs are complex. Your main priority is to keep automated and internet-enabled systems afloat to manage your operations. Add in a need for seamless communication and large volumes of data in your operations, and you need a plan that can do it all.

Home Office/Remote Workers

As of 2021, 20% of Canadians were working from home – a drastic increase from just 4% before the pandemic (Made In CA, 2023). If this is you, your data and bandwidth needs have greatly increased, especially if there are several people in your house working or learning from home. Adding more data and bandwidth may be necessary to avoid lag or additional data fees.

Professional Services

Law firms, accounting firms, management consultants, architectural firms, real estate agencies, financial advisory services, PR agencies, HR agencies

If you offer a service, you need an internet connection in your space that is reliable. Dropping off video chats and missing crucial emails is both annoying and bad for business. Clients trust you, meaning you need a network you can trust in turn.

Now that you understand the needs of your business based on industry, we will show you some examples of this in action. Here are some different plans that we have recommended to some of our business customers from a variety of industries.

High-Speed Business Internet: Industries We’ve Helped

CASE STUDY

Can-Traffic Services Ltd, Sherwood Park

  • About: Can-Traffic Services is a leader in traffic signal design and installation. Their team is made up of engineers, electricians, tradesmen, and technicians who ensure that traffic moves smoothly and safely through top-tier design
  • Requirement: Can-Traffic Services is a complex organization. Their internet needs include a variety of data-intensive tasks like video conferencing, large file sharing, and working collaboratively across teams.
  • Internet Package: To accommodate their vast data need with strong speeds to help them work efficiently, we recommended a Dedicated PTP connection. This plan gives them unlimited data, 100 Mbps download and upload speeds, and their own dedicated internet that isn’t shared with anyone else. Additionally, this plan grants them up to 10 static IP addresses for improved security, reliability, and location stability so they can have seamless access to their work network even on a job.
Stars Joel Storey

“MCSnet has been an invaluable partner for our business operations. From video conferences to data-intensive tasks, our connection performs without hiccups. Having a dependable internet connection is non-negotiable, and MCSnet has consistently delivered. ”

Joel Storey, Sherwood Park (Rural), AB | Can-Traffic Services Ltd.

Now we can begin to dive into different plan offerings. First up: let’s determine the pros and cons of unlimited and limited business internet packages.

Unlimited vs. Limited Business Internet Packages

Unlimited Business Internet Packages

With unlimited packages, you don’t have to worry about how much data you’re using. No matter how much video conferencing, downloading, or Wi-Fi sharing you do, you’re covered – it’s 100% unlimited!

However, these plans are not one-size-fits-all. Unlimited plans tend to be pricier than the limited plans, and during peak hours, speeds might dip (though an ethernet cable can help).

With an unlimited internet package, you pay a fixed amount each month — your internet bill stays the same, no surprises. And as your business grows, and your data usage grows with it, you don’t have to transition to a new internet plan.

Limited Business Internet Packages

For small- and medium-sized businesses out there, a limited package might be your perfect fit. These come with a predefined data cap each month, and while they’re leaner on data, they’re also more cost-efficient.

If you go over your cap, you’ll be billed for the extra usage. As you scale larger, you might outgrow your package and need to level up, so you may have to end your contract (fees!) and re-select a new plan.

If your business isn’t about constant streaming, massive downloads, or file-sharing in the cloud, this option might be your perfect match.

I need more help deciding!

Still unsure if limited or unlimited data plans are best for your business? Here’s a  step-by-step process to figure out which one will best balance cost and benefit.

Step 1: Assess your Data Usage Needs

Take a good look at your business’s typical day online. If you have workers or customers flooding the net during specific hours or you’re running data-heavy applications or software, you may need more data. If you are a solo business with light web surfing and e-mail, a limited data plan should be good enough for your needs.

Skim through past internet bills and review how much data you’re consuming. Starting out brand new? Ask your ISP for usage reports for similar businesses!

Here is a guideline:

  • Low usage: Mostly e-mailing or web browsing, with some file sharing and video calling, few transactions
  • Moderate usage: Streaming video, storing regular data backups, moderate file-sharing, regular collaboration with others, moderate transactions
  • Heavy usage: Large file downloads and sharing, cloud-based file sharing and collaboration, interactive software, a high amount of transactions

For more information on the types of plans we offer for rural Alberta businesses, check out our blog post.

Step 2: Consider your day-to-day

Consider your daily business activities! Every business has unique data and speed requirements. A design company sharing large files will use more data than your favourite retailer updating their latest Reel to Instagram.

Do you use a cloud-based collaboration platform? Sharing large files and online collaboration can use more data than you think! Make sure to account for this when considering data needs.

Step 3: Consider the Future

Future Growth: Thinking of launching a new service? Need to expand your company by hiring extra help? Consider your business’s growth projections. As you grow your business, make sure your package is prepared to grow with you.

Step 4: Review the Pros and Cons of Each

Limited Packages

ProsCons
Cost: Limited packages often come at a lower monthly cost.Data Cap: When you go over your allotted data, you will need to pay a fee for additional data.
Contract Terms: Limited packages might come with more flexible contract terms, allowing you to adjust your plan as your business's needs change.Inflexible: If your company outgrows your plan, it’s back to the drawing board for a new contract.
Table Swipe Finger

Unlimited Packages

ProsCons
Peace of mind: All of your usage is unlimited, no catch!Cost: Pricier than limited plans.
Cost predictability: Your internet cost stays the same month-to-month, making budgeting easy and predictable.Contracts: Generally, with an unlimited plan, you’re locked into a contract
Scalability: Your plan will cover you no matter how big you grow.
Table Swipe Finger

Step 5: Contact Us!

If all else fails and you’re still feeling a bit unsure, don’t worry – we’re here to help! Contact us today to discuss the right plan for you.

In the end, the choice between limited and unlimited packages boils down to what your business needs are now and what they might be down the road. Striking the right balance between need and cost is the key.

Now that you have a clearer idea of your data needs, we’re going to shift gears and dive into another crucial part of your data plan: the Static IP.

Static IP for Businesses: Do You Need One?

Before we determine if a static IP is necessary for your business, let’s start by explaining what an IP is.

Just like your house has an address, so does your device – each device you use to access the internet has its own IP (Internet Protocol) address. When you’re using the internet, your device is using its IP address to communicate and gain access around the web.

A Static IP address stays the same every time you connect to the internet. Think of a Static IP address as having the same parking spot every single day – no hunting for a space, no fuss, no waiting. Unlike Dynamic IPs, which change regularly, Static IPs stay constant.

But why does this matter for your business? Let’s get into it:

  • Consistency: Changing IP addresses can mean a loss in internet connection, so with a dynamic IP address, you may find yourself having to reconnect while working on tasks.
  • Speed: Static IPs can be drastically faster than Dynamic IPs. If you tend to upload or download a lot of files, this one will be noticeable for you.
  • VIP access: Imagine working remotely and accessing your office network or using apps regularly. With a Static IP, you’re the VIP guest who knows the owner of an exclusive restaurant. Applications and networks know and trust your device, so you get access immediately.
  • Security: Online businesses that need secure connections for point-of-sale systems or customer data can use a Static IP to protect this information from hackers.
  • Email delivery: If you want to stay out of others’ spam inboxes, you want a Static IP. Many email services view emails from dynamic IPs suspiciously and can mark them as spam.

However, not all businesses necessarily need a Static IP. Smaller businesses that primarily use the internet for e-mails and occasional file sharing may be fine with a Dynamic IP. If you’re confused about which one is best for you, contact us – we’ll help you out.

Now that we’ve determined data and Static IP needs, we need to determine what internet service is best. This can range from availability to budget, so we’ve made a handy checklist for you to help guide you on this decision

Business Internet for New Locations: Checklist

Infrastructure Availability

Having the right infrastructure in place (towers, data centres, transmission equipment) is necessary for reliable business internet. Renewing infrastructure in rural communities is part of Canada’s Rural Economic Development Strategy. View our internet coverage map to see if your area is covered.

Installation Time

Quick installation ensures minimal downtime for your business operations. Depending on your location and plan, we have different internet options with different installation needs.

Provider Availability

Selecting a provider with coverage in your rural area is essential. If the provider’s service is available, you’re well on your way to seamless connectivity.

Data Requirements

Determining your data requirements is key to selecting the right plan. You don’t want to overpay for data you won’t use, but you also don’t want to be stuck paying additional fees for extra data if you run out!

Scalability

Your business may grow, and the last thing you’ll want to worry about is going back to the drawing board on an internet plan. Make sure to leave some room for growth in your plan.

Redundancy and Backup

Consider plans with redundancy options (alternative internet connection) that can be activated quickly in the case of an outage.

Data Security

Choosing a provider with robust security measures is essential– not just to protect your sensitive information, but to protect your customers’ information, too.

Budget

You want to be sure to balance your business budget and your internet needs. Running a business is expensive enough – you don’t want to be overpaying for data you won’t use!

Contract Terms

Make sure you thoroughly understand your contract terms. Look for hidden fees and make sure you have options to scale up or down if you need!

Local Laws

Be aware of local regulations that may impact your internet service or future, such as net neutrality rules.

Customer Support

Excellent customer support is non-negotiable when dealing with your internet service provider. Look up reviews from customers on customer support experiences, especially in an outage.

At this point, you should feel like you have an idea of the plan you’re looking for. Does your current ISP offer what you’re looking for? If not, deciding to switch from your current ISP can be a tough decision. Let’s get into some serious considerations when deciding to make the switch.

Switching Business Internet Providers: What to Consider

If you’re thinking of making the switch to a new ISP,  there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some questions to consider when researching a new ISP.

What are the options?

Explore what different internet service providers (ISPs) can offer your business in terms of plans and speeds. Whether you’re managing an e-commerce hub or a cozy local cafe, you need a plan that aligns with your business’s digital demands.

What are average speeds?

Keep in mind when comparing plans that the upload/download speeds listed are often the max speed of that network. Ask the ISP for information on the most common speeds to expect. At MCSnet, we own our own network – we don’t share infrastructure with any other companies, like some of our competitors, so there’s less traffic. Less traffic means higher speeds!

What is the coverage like?

Coverage is king, especially in rural areas. You wouldn’t want to switch and then find out your new ISP has blind spots in your location. Make sure they’ve got your back with reliable coverage, wherever you operate.

What is the cost?

Cost matters, but this is more complicated than just the price tag. Look beyond the monthly rate and read the fine print for any hidden costs or contract terms that could catch you off guard. We’re all for pleasant surprises, but not on your monthly bill.

How does this ISP handle data caps?

Data limits can sneak up on you. If your business thrives on data-intensive activities, ensure your new ISP won’t either cut you off due to data caps or charge you a hefty overage fee.

What is the customer service experience like?

Check out reviews for the ISP, particularly around customer service. The last thing you want in an outage is an agent who brushes you off, or worse: doesn’t even answer the phone. Here’s what to look for when selecting an ISP that offers excellent customer service:

  • Proactive Communication: Does the ISP notify customers if there’s a known issue affecting the area, even before they reach out?
  • Detailed Guidance: Instead of generic troubleshooting, does the support team provide steps that address the specific scenarios?
  • Educative Support: Does the ISP take a moment to educate customers, making them more informed for future instances?
  • Empathy: Does the ISP listen and understand the frustrations of customers, especially when critical business operations are at stake? Also, do they make resolving the problem their top priority?

When you’re facing tech troubles, it’s crucial to know the quality of customer support you can expect. Research the responsiveness and efficacy of the service team in advance. In the case of an outage, you’ll want to lean on a team that truly understands and prioritizes your needs.

Transitioning to a new ISP might sound like a daunting experience, but if you’ve answered the above questions, you’ll have your bases covered.

Speaking of bases covered, does your business rely on a security system to protect your assets? If so, this can affect your internet needs. Let’s get into that in more detail.

Reliable Internet for Business Security Systems

So you’ve invested in a high-tech security surveillance system for your business and you are breathing a sigh of relief. Now you don’t have to worry about protecting your business assets when you’re not around! But are you really in the clear?

These systems use the internet to alert you to any security breaches and allow you to connect to live, real-time video footage from your device. Network outages or even lag from a slow network can put your security system out of commission. Also, even if your connection is stable, if you don’t have the right internet speed to support your security cameras, they won’t transmit video clearly to your device (if at all!).

Think of using your security system with unreliable or slow internet like buying a fancy sports car and filling it with basic gasoline. It will work – but it won’t work to its full potential. At that point, why invest money in a sports car if you’re not going to fill it with the right fuel to ensure it works optimally?

Spending a little extra on a plan that can service your security system can be well worth it, but you don’t have to break the bank. Let’s get into some ways to get the best deal on your new plan.

Securing Affordable Business Internet Plans

The first thing you want to do when you’ve selected the perfect plan for you is to reach out to the ISP and negotiate the cost. Ask about any promotions, discounts, or special offers for business customers.

After asking for their best deal on offer, ask them to further sweeten the deal – If they’re unwilling to budge, you have a trump card. Leverage your loyalty into signing a long-term contract to get that price down low.

Next, you will want to make sure you thoroughly understand the terms of your plan. This includes the monthly fee, installation charges, activation fees, and equipment rental costs. You want full transparency here, including extra data charges and how long you’re locked in for.

Remember, affordability doesn’t mean giving up quality. While finding a plan that suits your budget is important, you also want to make sure the plan provides reliability, speed, and support.

Striking the balance between what you need and the right price point for you is the key to selecting the right business internet plan for you. After all, you need an internet plan that you never have to think about, so you can focus your attention on growing your business.

Choosing the Best Business Internet Provider for Your Business Needs

You’ve made it to the end of our comprehensive guide! Hopefully, by this point, you feel informed and prepared to make one of the most important business decisions you’ll make. If you’re ready to start browsing plans, you can check out our business internet plans.

If you are still looking for some guidance and would like to speak to us directly, feel free to contact us. We are happy to answer any questions you have and go through what option would be best based on your business’ unique needs.

We are committed to customer satisfaction and proudly offer a dedicated support line for our business customers. For now, we wish you a seamless, fast, and speedy business internet day!

Have Questions About Business Internet? We’ve got answers.

Can I get business internet at home?

MCSnet has the flexibility to provide internet packages for as low as $39.95 per month for home-based businesses. Need more internet capacity than just the basics? MCSnet Business plans, including Custom Fiber, are available in many parts of our service area. Contact one of our business advisors at corporate@mcsnet.ca or 1-866-390-3928 ext. 3.

What is the average cost of business internet in Alberta?

Business internet in rural Alberta generally ranges from $119.99/month up to $299.99/month depending on speed, data cap, and availability.

What is the average internet consumption by businesses in Alberta?

Internet consumption by businesses depends on the size of the business. Small businesses are most likely sufficient with 600 GB per month, whereas larger corporate companies conducting regular server updates, may need up to 10 TB. MCSnet’s Corporate plans offer traffic caps of 10 TB with a variety of services from Dedicated PTP connections to Custom Fiber and Corporate GigAir.

What is a good internet speed for businesses in Alberta?

Again, this depends on the size of the business. Small to medium businesses are most likely able to operate on 50 Mbps even with a Point of Sales machine. Larger corporations with their own servers and required daily back-ups require faster speeds of 300 to 1,000 Mbps. MCSnet is able to find you the business packages you need depending on your requirements. Contact one of our business advisors at corporate@mcsnet.ca or 1-866-390-3928 ext. 3.

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