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SIDEBAR: Some questions to ask an ISP

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Executives at Internet service providers offer questions you should ask when shopping for an ISP. And here we translate them into English.

  • For backbone operators, what are your peering arrangements? (Who do you connect with, and under what terms?)

  • For smaller ISPs, who runs your backbone, and what's the speed of your connection to that backbone? (Where does your Internet traffic go, and how much traffic can you handle?)

  • What's your global capability and breadth of service? (Where else does your backbone go, and what else can you do for me?)

  • Do you have backup power -- a trained engineering staff with routing expertise? Can you handle security problems quickly? Do you have adequate capital? (Will you be around tonight? How about tomorrow?)

  • What are your latencies for coast-to-coast traffic (How long does data take to get from here to there?)

  • Who are your references, your other customers? (I want to check you out.)

  • How fast can you change my speed arrangements, or mirror my site in other locations? (What if no one comes to my site? What if everyone does?)

  • Are you running hot, and how much drainage bandwidth do you have? (How crowded is your data freeway?)

  • How big is your consumer Internet access business? (Am I going to have to share your lines with millions of newbies?)

  • How do you calculate prices? (How do I know how much I'm paying? How can I compare you to others?)
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