Network support services are becoming increasingly popular these days, and this is evidenced by the growth rate in this sector.
From $838 billion in 2022 to $886 billion in 2023 and a projected $1.12 trillion worth by 2027, the value these support services bring to businesses cannot be overemphasized.
One knowledge area most organizations seem to be in the dark about, however, is the cost of acquiring these indispensable network support services. While some organizations may understandably be hesitant because of the seemingly unaffordable expense of network support without knowing a way forward, others have little knowledge of the cost and how to prevent wastage.
To give you a clear picture, our article dives into everything you need to know about network support pricing, including quick definitions for beginners and expected costs for different regions across the world.
Also, learn the factors that determine the final cost of network support services, as well as the way out for small businesses with limited financial resources.
What is network support?
The term «network» is one we hear almost every day in the digital world. It is what we describe as a system of interconnected devices with the primary purpose of sharing data, information, and other resources.
When it comes to support, network management comes into the picture. This describes practices for administering devices and tools in a computer network, such as switches, routers, repeaters, gateways, and firewalls. Administration here focuses on achieving optimum security and performance while maintaining perfect configurations, reducing network errors, and monitoring financial expenditure.
Now, network support brings humans into the networking environment. It describes the technical services needed to manage networking devices - the specialists that take care of network faults, monitor network performance, and improve networking configurations. Network support ensures the networking environment remains reliable enough for dependent IT systems to run smoothly.
It isn’t uncommon to see IT enthusiasts and even IT-powered business owners interchange their use of the term «network support» with «IT support» and «managed IT services». For individuals new to IT terminology, it gets confusing, we know.
Thankfully, these can be differentiated on clear lines we’ll see next.
Network support vs IT support vs Managed IT services
While network support specializes in managing and optimizing networking setups for reliable data sharing, the scope of IT support extends beyond network environments.
IT support connotes the overall technical expertise required to maintain the entire IT infrastructure. Alongside the networking environment, IT support takes care of the systems and devices behind product development, product testing, product deployment, and IT maintenance. It also involves the services needed for hardware and software installation, scaling the IT environment, and even taking care of customer IT complaints, to mention a few.
In other words while all network support activities fit under IT support, not all IT support services pass for network support.
How about managed IT services? Managed IT services, refer to the outsourcing of IT support services to third-party providers. These companies specialize in taking care of clients’ IT management tasks, through services such as:
- Data storage services
- Data backup services
- Cybersecurity services
- Customer IT servicing
- Server management
- And, of course, network support services.
Managed IT service providers are highly skilled external professionals who help to free up the hands of internal staff to engage in more productive IT/business-related endeavors.
As an organization and depending on resource availability, you may opt for internal network support, external network support, or a hybrid of both. These choices determine how much you will ultimately pay for network management, which is what we’ll discuss next.
The cost of network support services
When preparing for this article, we analyzed internal data from our platform, IT Companies Network. We found that the global cost of network support services ranges from as low as $25 per hour to as high as $300 per hour.
Regional and continental averages differ, and the final cost of network support services additionally depends on other factors like the pricing model, setup costs, the frequency of network support needed, and the number of devices in the networking environment.
Before we discuss these factors, let’s first look at the approximate costs of network support services for major regions across the world.
1. The cost of network support in North America
Organizations should expect to pay the most in North America, as the US is where service costs can reach up to $300/hour or even more.
However, a majority of network support services in North America cost between $50 per hour to $149 per hour.
2. Cost of network support services in in Western Europe
While some services may be offered for as low as $25/hour, network support services in Western Europe cost a general average of between $50 per hour and $149 per hour.
3. Cost of network support services in Eastern Europe
Eastern European network support services generally cost between less than $25 per hour to $149 per hour.
4. Cost of network support services in Asia
Network support services in Asia can offer highly skilled IT professionals for a more manageable price quote. However, cost expectations ultimately depend on where you will hire within the vast Asian region.
For instance, services from countries like India commonly cost an average of below $25/hour to $49/hour, while services in countries like Malaysia can cost between $50 per hour to $99 per hour.
5. Cost of network support services in the Middle East
The Middle East follows the same cost expectations as Asia, as network support service providers commonly charge between $25 per hour to up to $99 per hour.
6. Cost of network support services in Africa
The African region has the least number of network support services at the moment and also charges the least of all. You can expect to pay below $25 per hour, with some services charging up to $49 per hour.
Pricing models for network support services
Network support services come with at least 6 different pricing schemes, giving organizations multiple options to choose from.
Some of these models are great for small-sized businesses without extensive budgets for network management. Others are available for businesses who wish to outsource their entire network support tasks without fearing cost.
The major pricing models include:
- Per user
- Per device
- Tiered pricing
- Value-based s
- Tailored pricing (A la Carte)
We have a related article that discusses these models in detail. Please check it out to understand the different pricing models that are often offered by service providers. Even though this particular guide addresses managed AIT services, the pricing models are standard and will apply the same concept even for network support services.
Factors that affect the cost of network support services
As mentioned earlier, alongside the location of the network support service and the pricing model opted for, there are other factors that affect the ultimate cost of network support services. These factors include:
1. Size of organization/IT Infrastructure
Here, the more employees there are in the enterprise or the more devices used in the network environment, the higher the network support expenses.
Even when per-user and per-device models are not adopted, the need to scale higher brings the necessity to patronize more expensive pricing models.
2. Compliance requirements/license fees
If your organization operates in a highly regulated industry, the need to meet network compliance requirements can force you to patronize more expensive models or service providers.
3. Experience level of the network support agent or provider
As with any other industry or profession around the world, the amount of experience a network support personnel has also determines labor cost. Glassdoor, the research site for specialist salaries, gives us a perfect example.
Per Glassdoor, while the yearly salary of a network support specialist in the US with one year of experience peaks at $70,000, a specialist with 15 years of experience earns up to $107,000 per year.
4. Frequency of support that’s required
Part-time network support services expectedly cost less than full-time options, given the lower amount of hours paid for. However, they could expose you to unreliable network management coverage, as there may be no professionals on deck to deal with unexpected network issues.
Full-time network support, on the other hand, offers full coverage and can come in the form of both in-house and managed service options. Of course this also means that they cost more.
How to calculate the true cost of network support services
Calculating the final costs of network support services requires that we add up direct costs, indirect costs, and hidden costs associated with setting up and maintaining the network infrastructure.
For internal network support, please factor the following items:
- The hourly cost of retaining network specialists
- The cost of networking devices, such as routers, switches, servers, gateways, firewalls, and bridges.
- The cost of network support software, including configuration management software, network security software, network design software, and network monitoring software, to name a few.
- The indirect cost of energy to power support hardware and software
- The cost of compliance
- The cost of training employees to seamlessly collaborate with network support specialists
- The cost of continuous network infrastructure upgrades and maintenance.
For outsourced network support, however, pricing is typically straightforward. You only have to worry about the charges of service providers and the possible loss of revenue from inadequate network management.
Best practices for efficient network support cost management
Before we round up, we find it important to caution that choosing the lowest-cost pricing models doesn’t always guarantee cost savings.
A weak consideration for network support cost management best practices exposes you to unexpected expenditure in the future — expenditure that may prove detrimental especially for small and tight-budgeted businesses.
The most important best practices that you should never ignore include:
- Define business status and goals, and use these to determine the best pricing model to adopt both for the short term and long term. Failing to consider scalability is one of the most common mistakes that businesses looking for network support services make, and this mistake can easily lead to other inefficiencies.
- Identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will help to measure performance and pinpoint areas for improvement or correction. Please note that without a clear business goal, this step is not possible. KPIs should also be reviewed from time to time to ensure effective monitoring at all times, whether this monitoring is to be done internally or externally.
- Adopt AI and machine learning to speed up network management and future-proof network support selection.
Other best practices include adopting cloud-based network support services for seamless scalability. You should also pay keen attention to reputation before selecting third-party support services.
Can a small business afford network support services?
As we have seen, network support services come available through a range of pricing models. These models are designed in a way that can fit the needs of both tight budgets and abundant financial resources.
What this means, therefore, is that small businesses equally have an opportunity to enjoy network support services thanks to pricing models such as monitoring-only models, tiered pricing, and tailored (A la Carte).
If you are a network professional keen to advance your career through certification in this field, please check out the best network security certifications.