Businesses large and small are ever-increasingly dependent on internet-access for day to day operations. With many transactions being internet-based, the rise of VoIP, use of cloud-based systems and data storage offsite, etc. a reliable business broadband service has never been more important.
With this in mind, here we consider the various aspects of selecting a business broadband package which ideally suits the needs of your business.
Key differences between home and business broadband
First of all, let’s understand why business broadband is necessary and how it is different to home broadband:
· Balanced download/upload speeds – most home broadband lines are set-up to optimise download above upload. This is because most home-users typically download more content (e.g. TV, videos, etc) rather than upload. This can be entirely different in business where video conferencing, VoIP services and offsite data backups (e.g. to cloud), etc. all require high upload speeds
· Zero tolerance for poor performance – let’s be honest, most home users can tolerate below-par internet performance (e.g. speed issues or failure to connect) from time to time. This is totally different in business though where “time is money” and internet access is (usually) crucial (e.g. for payment processing, communication if VoIP, etc.)
For any business, needing reliable broadband the solution is obvious, which can grow/contract as your business does is required. A business broadband connection is needed rather than a standard home broadband offering.
Factors to consider when selecting your business broadband solution
There are a vast number of factors to potentially consider. In this section, we have listed six of the most popular factors to consider for your broadband solution.
Speed is an obvious essential quality in any business broadband service, it is important for both the download and upload of data. Clearly, old-fashioned technologies like ADSL are going to be inadequate, but how much speed do you need?
It’s important to understand offers of potential providers and what you get for your money. The flexibility in a contract to upgrade speed if you need to is important too.
Don’t necessarily believe the speeds advertised by providers, actual speeds are usually somewhat lower than the advertising and will depend on factors such as line quality, the age of line, distance to the nearest cabinet and noise distortion, etc. Test speeds after installation with online checkers to check the speeds you are receiving.
2. Reliability and failover availability
If the internet is crucial to your business operations, then you need to plan for 0.00% (or very close to this) downtime. This is more difficult to achieve than it sounds and depends upon two main factors – i) the reliability of your provider and ii) failover availability.
“Time is money” and internet downtime (or lack of reliability) therefore costs money, as well as causes staff and customer discontent and irritation. The actual cost will vary from business to business but choosing a business broadband package which is highly reliable and has minimal downtime is crucial. Therefore, research potential providers, read articles from neutral sources, check their KPIs about reliability, etc. Ask providers what processes they have in place to ensure reliability (e.g. of their network and equipment).
Failover is your backup when a generally reliable system fails. This is alternative internet access for when your main internet fails. This could be air (rather than line) based broadband or having a second (usually lower spec) broadband line from a different provider (although it’s possible this might have a similar issue to your primary line).
Failover is often expensive and is not necessary for many businesses, but for some, it’s critical and can make a huge difference.
The next factor to consider is the support package available. Carefully consider the hours of support required, if you operate 9 to 5 this is probably not a problem but check the contract and verify what hours are covered. Don’t pay for support you don’t need, but if out of hours is needed, make sure you have this at a reasonable price.
Also, as a part of the support, it’s worth asking about the speed of installation of the business broadband service. Some providers will quote longer lead-times than others, it’s worth knowing the time needed for installation if this is important to you.
Every factor we are discussing is important, but almost certainly none are above security. Research the provider you are interested in and look to see if they have experienced any major data breaches. Ask what their policies are for data security and hacker prevention?
Remember, small and large businesses alike are vulnerable to hackers who make a living from hacking businesses. Some providers offer basic security protection with upgrade options (e.g. monitoring services).
5. Price (value for money)
The top factor on many businesses list is price, but generally, if you negotiate well you get what you pay for. Above the price you pay is the overall specification of your business broadband service. A low-priced business broadband solution, which has low-reliability will very quickly erode any cash-savings made on the deal!
The best idea is to ask various providers to quote for the exact same level of service provision and compare each quote, i.e. try to compare each provider from a level playing field.
6. Static IP address
Perhaps underestimated is the importance of a static IP address as a part of the broadband service. This has advantages in terms of businesses being able to host their own website rather than having to rely on an external company to provide this as a service. A static IP address is also important for remote working, the operation of CCTV systems and also in hosting an email server.
Invest in a business broadband solution now
We hope that you have learned from this guide to selecting a business broadband package. It’s crammed with useful advice which should put you in a good place to select the ideal package for your circumstances.