Choosing the right internet connection for your NFP

In this guide, you'll find actionable tips and advice to help you choose the best internet for your NFP.
Connecting to the internet

In today's digital world, a reliable internet connection is a lifeline for non-profit organisations, with a multitude of internet service providers (ISPs) and connection types available, choosing the right fit can feel overwhelming. 

This guide simplifies the process by explaining the role of ISPs, different connection options and key factors to consider when selecting the best internet solution for your NFP’s needs.

Types of connection

The type of internet connection you choose or have access to significantly impacts your organisation's online experience. Here's a breakdown of the main types of connection available: 

Fixed line connection

A physical connection to the internet. This could be any number of different technologies, the majority of which are hosted by the National Broadband Network (NBN). Fixed line connections generally provide the best combination of speed, reliability, and value; however NBN availability can be limited in rural areas, so research if NBN is available to your location.

Fixed wireless or satellite

Where a physical connection isn’t suitable, a fixed wireless service may be another option. In this situation, an antenna or dish is installed on the outside of your building and connects to a high-speed signal from your internet service provider. 
Starlink, a new satellite option for remote and rural locations, relies on a massive network of satellites orbiting Earth at a much lower altitude compared to traditional satellites. This lower orbit translates to significantly reduced delay in data transmission meaning faster internet for your NFP. 

Mobile broadband

Mobile broadband uses the same connection as your mobile phone. While it is fast, it can be quite expensive when used regularly. It’s recommended that mobile broadband only be used for light external work.

Benefits of high-speed broadband

  • A fast internet connection creates new ways of working with and supporting clients, staff and other organisations

  • File transfers and data sharing allows more seamless online communications between organisations and clients. Faster internet speeds allow organisations to make more use of audio and video

  • Video conferencing and remote working facilitates working from home

  • Real-time and interactive video calls, video conferencing, webinars and online meetings can be more effective communications tools than email or onsite meetings

  • Faster networked connections across multiple sites improve remote access

  • Internet telephony can lead to savings on communications costs

  • Improved staff training through better access to online training and education resources such as webinars, training videos and training programs (for example, Microsoft’s Digital Literacy program).

How to choose an internet provider

Internet Service Provider’s own and maintain the infrastructure that carries internet data, like fiber optic cables, satellite networks, or wireless towers. They offer different service plans with varying features like data speed (bandwidth), data caps, pricing, and customer support.

Our advice for selecting an internet provider is:

1.    Leverage IT Expertise: If you have a trusted IT support partner, consult them first. They can analyse your specific needs (number of users, bandwidth requirements, etc.) and recommend the most suitable connection type and ISP based on your location and budget.
2.    Future-Proofing Your Plan: Consider including an upgrade option in your contract to accommodate potential growth in your organisation's internet needs.
3.    Contract Flexibility: While longer contracts often offer lower rates, weigh the benefits against the flexibility of month-to-month plans. Internet prices tend to decrease over time, so a shorter contract may allow you to take advantage of better deals in the future.
4.    Researching Beyond Comparison Sites: Utilise online resources like Canstar Blue and WhistleOut, keeping in mind their residential focus. Supplement your research by consulting with IT experts familiar with non-profit internet needs. They can provide a more comprehensive picture of options specifically tailored to the unique requirements of NFPs.

Things to consider when assessing your needs

  • How many users will be using the internet at once?
    The more users there are simultaneously online, the more bandwidth (data capacity) is required.
  • How much data will my organisation be using?
    Unlimited data plans are becoming industry standard. They mean you don’t have to worry about surprise bills or bandwidth reductions after a certain quota of data has been reached.
  • How long can I commit to a plan?
    Some plans are month-to-month, others have a fixed term. As a rule of thumb, month-to-month plans have tended to be more expensive, but this is no longer always the case.
  • Does the network connection meet my needs?
    Will your organisation require rural or remote-area connections?

Note that if you're in an area of rural australia that has poor NBN connectivity, quite a few organisations have reported to us that moving to StarLink has worked for them.  

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