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Useful information on Small Business Broadband

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Small Business Broadband

Small businesses today are just as dependent on their broadband connections as large organisations. They need it to ensure they can stay in touch with customers, suppliers, and business partners; to place orders on supplier websites and perhaps to take orders as well. More SMBs are now making use of voice over IP for their telephony, and to access cloud-based services.

Choosing the right broadband service and supplier is therefore just as important a choice for a small company as it is for any corporate enterprise. Small businesses need performance and bandwidth that is suited for their needs (and it’s worth considering how your needs might change in the future). They also need a service that they can depend upon. 

At the same time, broadband needs to be appropriate and affordable for the business – and there is no point in paying for speed and bandwidth you are not going to use. 

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Small Business Broadband Deals

There are many different broadband deals available and while they might all seem to be similar at first sight, it’s worth looking at them in detail before you any decision. We’d also recommend examining your own needs in some depth before you start. You may think that you simply need the fastest service you can afford, but you should also consider the following: 

  • What will you be using your broadband for?
  • Your current AND your future requirements?
  • How dependent are you on your broadband? What would the consequences be if you lost the service for a few hours or even for a number of days?
  • What’s your realistic budget – what’s the most you could afford to pay (you should consider this in the light of how dependent you are on the service)

What will you be using your broadband for?

If you are simply going to be using email and doing some research on websites, you probably don’t need the very fastest services available, But if your requirements extend beyond that, you may need to look at a higher-speed option. If you are already using online services to do your procurement work, for example, you won’t want to suffer from sluggish performance that could prevent you from placing important orders. Equally, if you are using hosted voice services, or cloud-based applications, you will want to make sure you have the speed and assured quality to support them. 

Current and future requirements

Today you may be using your broadband just for email and web surfing. But if, like many businesses, you have now started to make more use of video conferencing and remote collaboration systems, or cloud-based applications and voice services, you will be using more bandwidth. If you can see your usage of these and other online services growing over the term of your broadband contract (which is usually two years), you should take this into consideration. If you think you will need more capacity, it will be more cost-effective to go for a higher performance service straight away.

At the same time, if you don’t see your business needing any significant increase in speed over the next couple of years, don’t be tempted by offers on faster services. If you are unsure, seek the advice of a third party expert. 

How dependent are you on your broadband? 

What would the consequences be if you lost the service for a few hours or even for a number of days? It’s really worth thinking about this question. It may never have happened to you up to now – and it may never happen. But all service providers suffer outages from time to time – usually for reasons beyond their control. If you are heavily dependent on your broadband service you should look for a service that provides a good guarantee of uptime, and/ or one that comes with a 4G backup that will kick-in should the main broadband connection be lost at any point. 

What’s your realistic budget?

We’d all like to have as much speed and bandwidth as we need and not have to worry. But you also need to exercise common sense. Everyone’s budget is limited to some extent and it will help if you go into the process of selecting a service with a figure in mind – and an upper limit beyond which you really can’t go. In the end it is a question of balancing your current and future requirements, your level of dependency, and cost. 

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Small business broadband providers

Most businesses in the UK are SMB or micro businesses, so any ISP that does not cater for their needs is really be shooting itself in the foot. You should therefore expect any service provider that offers business services to have a range of options that are suited smaller organisations and home-based businesses. 

Most will provide a range of choices, from basic broadband connections that offer relatively low download speeds of perhaps up to 15Mbps, to super-fast or ultra-fast services that offer up to 300Mbps speeds and come complete with voice services and 4G fail-over capability. These will, of course, cost more. In between, there will be a whole selection of options. Don’t underestimate the bandwidth you might need today – or in the next couple of years.

List of providers

BT

BT is of course, the best-known service provider in the UK and a name that many small businesses know and trust. It has a comprehensive range of options, from basic broadband to ultra-fast services with voice, 4G backup and other add-ons. BT has a very wide reach across the UK, so you wherever you are, it should have options for you. 

Enterprise Broadband 

Despite the name, Enterprise Broadband offers services that will suit many smaller of mid-sized businesses. They are generally stripped-down services, powered by BT or TalkTalk, that offer higher speeds without frills. This means you get excellent bandwidth and performance at a relatively low price. If you want extras, you need to add them separately.

Plusnet

Plusnet is renowned for the excellent value and range it offers for smaller businesses. It offers a wide range of services that will suit all kinds of firms – from micro businesses operating from home, to larger SMBs that need much higher levels of performance. Plusnet services are available just about everywhere in the UK. 

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Maintaining high speed Internet

Whatever speed of service you have, it’s important to make sure you get the best out of it. You might think that it should just work and deliver the speed you need; and while it is absolutely the case that your service provider should deliver consistent performance that is in line with the stated service level, it’s worth checking this from time to time.

First of all, do read the SLA (Service Level Agreement); this will stipulate the level of speed and performance you can expect to get most of the time. Then, once it is installed, check the speed you are actually getting by running a broadband speed checker test. You will find plenty of free tests online.

You should also pay attention to what employees are doing online and perhaps apply a degree of control if you believe that some less important activities are slowing down more critical business functions. You may want to limit the time people can spend on social media sites for example, or on personal video conferencing and streaming sites. This is not something your ISP will be able to do for you though, so you will need to get independent expert advice.

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Office broadband vs home office broadband

While we’ve only really talked about business broadband services in this article, if you work from home or run a ‘virtual’ business, there will be ‘home’ broadband services that also could meet your needs. These will often come with a telephone number and may also be offered with TV services.  If you only use the broadband occasionally and for simple work tasks, these options might suit both your business and personal needs. 

The only problem with consumer-oriented broadband services is they tend to be much more geared to home entertainment and evening use. Most service providers do also offer broadband that is designed for the smallest businesses, whether they are working at home or in a dedicated location, and we’d recommend that you stick to these services if you want to get the best performance and reliability of service.

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