Office occupancy has been improving since the lifting of the pandemic restrictions, meaning broadband providers need to be prepared. For businesses to stay competitive, their internet connections need to be faster and more reliable than ever. We didn't ask readers about the best ISPs to work withseveral years, but in 2023 we will come back and ask what service providers employees prefer.
But this year, we went further than just surveying employees: as part of our ongoing collaboration with our company colleaguesSpiceworks(Opens in a new window)And this isAberdeen Strategy and Research(Opens in a new window)(Spiceworks is owned by PCMag's parent company, Ziff Davis), our survey also targets IT managers, identifying which providers they would recommend unreservedly for office broadband.
When it comes to how IT selects an ISP, Aberdeen said the top three criteria were reliability, speed and price. Jim Rapoza, Vice President and Principal Analyst, Aberdeen, says: “Our IT research consistently shows high costs for even short internet outages, with an hour of downtime easily [costing] six or even seven figures for many businesses. it makes sense for companies to prioritize reliability as their selection criteria.”
Here are the results, not just for the US: We also ask several thousand employees and IT managers in Canada to rate their broadband at work.
Employee's Choice: The Best Internet Service Providers for the Office
It's not uncommon for a mainly consumer-oriented ISP to be advertised when many of us work from home and test these high-speed lines with office VPNs and video conferencing. But we're in uncharted territory with an urban ISP dominating the category.NextLight— ISP found inonecity in Colorado - just passed the required number of responses; readers rate it very highly, with numbers we've never seen before for any provider in any category.
Few people would move to Longmont, Colorado - home of NextLight and one of usThe best cities to work from home in 2022— but only for excellent broadband. So we also choose a winner that serves a much larger part of the country. It's interesting to see the old manVerizon Fiosreturns to the fold: The service has won Business Choice several times in the past decade and is a frequent winnerReader's choice, strong in us tooFastest ISPsexercise.
(Note: Click the up, down, left and right arrows in our interactive tables to see the various elements of our survey results.)
Fios narrowly beat runner-up Cox - both are very close. In fact, Cox is better than Fios when it comes to ease of use. In the end, however, the high probability of Fios's recommendation deserved our award.
At the bottom of the list of ISPs are many DSL and cable providers, as well as a provider that connects DSL to fiber (CenturyLink). Any ISP with an overall satisfaction score of 7.0 or lower also has many other low scores, especially Comcast's Xfinity - although Xfinity beats AT&T Fiber in technical support and customer service. And Spectrum beats them both in those categories. Certainly no employee wants DSL when they can have a fiber connection, as seen with both Verizon and AT&T.
OurBusiness Choice ISP WinnerIn 2021, RCN Business became part of Astound Broadband which also has a business solutions division. RCN then won with a score that would beat every vendor on the list this year except NextLight (without beating the NextLight numbers). But Astound's new fusion is generally happy, finishing a whole point behind Fios this time around.
IT Manager Selection: The ISP that the IT team wants to administer
Employees have good opinions about the ISPs they use, especially at home. But in the office, the IT department decides which services will be used.
The winner in our first round is AT&T, specifically its fiber network. The ISP does not fare well with IT types when it comes to setup, tech support, and customer service, ranking second only to Spectrum. These are key factors for IT, but still AT&T's average score on our key metric - overall satisfaction - outperforms the rest. AT&T Fiber also scores highly on those criteria that Aberdeen considers the most important: price, connection reliability, and connection speed. AT&T fiber also excels in ease of use. It certainly deserves our first IT Managers' Choice award.
As mentioned, Spectrum performs decently and even has the highest score for likelihood of referrals, but ranks third in overall satisfaction behind second-place CenturyLink. Comcast's Xfinity - the largest ISP in the US - has many low scores, but again slightly ahead of AT&T Fiber in technical support and customer service. These are things anyone responsible for your company's internet connection should keep in mind when choosing a service.
Canada's preferred internet service providers for the workplace
Our first Canadian readers' survey of ISPs in action reveals some interesting wins. On the consumer side, which can be seen with usChoosing an Internet Service Provider, privileged players are often smaller service providers and ISP branches belonging to larger conglomerates - the broadband equivalent of MVNOs, i.e. operators without their own network.
However, our Canada jobs results are limited to the major players. And some major services don't get enough survey responses to be included (Videotron in particular). Among those who made it to our results, there were some surprising names.
Employees' Choice: Canada's Best Business Broadband Provider
Employee ratings of corporate ISPs show a few exceptions, but one ISP that shines was once called Manitoba Telecom Services, or MTS. It wasZwono MTSas of 2017, the parent company, BCE Inc., integrated MTS mobile customers with Bell Mobility, but operates Bell MTS ISP separately from Bell Canada. What customers think has paid off. Bell MTS scores top marks in all categories where we have enough responses, most notably overall satisfaction and dial-up speed.
Telus ranks second, slightly ahead of the bigger Canadian players Rogers and Bell (these are the big three when it comes to mobility in Canada, but Telus has about a fifth of wired broadband users than either of the other two). Telus also connects to Bell MTS for connection reliability.
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Because their sheer size leads to several additional customers completing our survey, Rogers and Bell Canada are the only ISPs on the list with results in some areas - and in all of them, Rogers is several steps ahead of Bell Canada. These categories include setup, pricing, technical support, customer service, repair, and management. The exception is the recommendation likelihood score, where every competitor outperforms Rogers.
Shaw Communications is at the bottom in all of its qualifying categories except for the recommendation probability mentioned above. For this purpose, it connects with Bell Canada.
IT Manager's Choice: Canada's Best Business Internet Service Provider
Rogers and Bell Canada are the two largest telecommunications companies in the country, and this also applies to their ISPs. Both receive enough responses from IT managers to be listed among broadband providers in this category; many other ISPs in the country do not stock.
We expected both companies to receive somewhat low ratings, in line with the results we are seeing for overall employees (above) as well as for consumers. But Rogers racks up surprisingly high numbers across the board, winning the IT Manager's Choice award.
In particular, Rogers is highly rated for connection reliability, speed and ease of use, as well as service management. Rogers leads Bell Canada by one or more points in every category except in value - Rogers leads only 9/10 points in this category.
This is one of the clearest wins we've seen. Rogers is the best choice for IT departments implementing Internet in the office in every respect.
The PCMag Business Choice Broadband ISP survey ran in the field from April 3-24, 2023. For more information on conducting the surveys, readresearch methodology.
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