Feel Secure About Your Decision
As for security issues, I admit to being somewhat bewildered. I don't know the DSL providers you contacted, but most include a firewall application in their packages. Honestly, any DSL provider worthy of consideration has a firewall application included in the basic package. You are able to access the firewall settings online for all computers on the network. It is not a complicated process. Besides, I suspect you may have a firewall installed at this time. If not, here are some of your options:
- ZoneAlarm: Offers a free download you can install on all the computers. It may be the only reliable, free download available at this time.
- Norton: One of the mainstays for securing Windows operating systems. They even offer a five-license package that could cut your software costs.
- McAfee: Considered by many to be equal to or better than Norton, offers a 10-license package that may prove financially competitive to using Norton.
Competition for DSL service is very intense. You are certain to find a DSL provider that will satisfy your budget. I conducted a search, on the beta site of Google's new local search engine for DSL service providers in a 15-mile radius of downtown New York and secured 93 listings.
Any initial investment in modems and other equipment and monthly fees for DSL service will likely not exceed the company's present annual online budget, assuming you get competitive bids.
Assuming the boss lets you go with DSL, I suspect there may be many immediate and noticeable differences:
- Much quicker online access
- Simultaneous access by all computers
- Simultaneous phone conversations and online access
- Increased productivity
- Improved employee morale
- Increased volume of online communication with customers, if it doesn't already exist
You do have some work ahead of you, but I really don't doubt your ability. In the first place, I am confident you are a competent manager. I also believe you fail to give yourself due credit for the ability to deal with computer hardware and software issues. However, be careful with sales people. Remember, you are the customer in this case. You should demand that each sales representative does the very best to be the one who wins the sale. It is your company's money. If a DSL provider really wants your business it will "shake a leg" to meet your needs.
One last item ... when you succeed in becoming a hero with the bosses, then you may want to request an upgrade from Windows 98 and ME. Of course, Windows XP is the rage, and I have noticed the retail price on the personal and professional editions has dropped since they were introduced. If you don't want all the "bells and whistles," Windows 2000 Pro is still available and provides a very stable platform.
I wish you the best, and do let me know the good news when DSL is installed in your place of work.
A Survey of Small Businesses' Telecommunications Use & Spending. Written by Stephen B. Pociask, TeleNomic Research, for the SBA Office of Advocacy, March 2004. [PDF]
For a good perspective on what others think about DSL and cable modem high-speed access check the feedback on the forums at BroadbandReports.com.
In case you have trouble understanding some of this terminology go to Webopedia. It is an invaluable online dictionary of tech terminology, which is also part of internet.com's Small Business Channel.
Steve Windhaus is principal of Windhaus Associates, a business plan consulting firm serving small, existing and startup ventures throughout the United States and overseas. His clients range from technology-based firms in software development, e-commerce and telecommunications to retailers of ATV's and watercraft and a variety of service firms. Steve is a published author who also conducts training in business plan development and participates as a judge in business plan competitions. Steve can relate to small biz environments relying on computer technology. His skills and use of many related technologies are all self-taught. If you have a question your would like to see Steve address in a future article, send it to us today.
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