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Business on a budget: How to save money on tech and telecoms

in Advice & Guides by . .

This week: dial in to telecoms and broadband savings

Tip 1: Navigating the broadband jungle

There is a bewildering array of broadband packages out there – all with headline grabbing offers and deals. But don’t just go for what appears to be the cheapest offer. You will save time - and money - by finding the right package for your business. Ask yourself what would happen to your business and productivity if the internet went down or slowed right up? 

Some important points to consider include: 

Speed – up to 24MB is typically available but you need to check the small print carefully and find out what your can expect in your local area. 

Contention – check the maximum contention ratio. The higher the contention ratio the higher potential volume of traffic. The lower the contention ratio the higher the speed.

Support – look for a strong service level agreement and dedicated 24 hour support. Online comparison services are a useful starting point to wade through the range of offers:

http://www.uswitch.com/broadband/compare/business_broadband

http://www.broadbandgenie.co.uk/broadband/business-broadband

Tip 2: Extra extra – read all about it!

Some broadband providers give you some important added extras. Ask yourself the following questions: 

Do you get added security including anti-virus and spyware protection and firewalls?

Do you get access to free back up data facilities?

Do you get a static IP address which gives you more flexibility to set up your own email service or have remote access to information?

Do you get a free wireless router (rather than a standard router)?

Read the small print to avoid making a big mistake.

Tip 3: The right combination 

Most broadband services offer an attractive headline price – but only if you get a telecoms package with them as well.

So always look for the total package price and compare like for like.

It takes a bit of time to wade through the marketing blurb but it is worth it. You need to know what you are letting yourself in for.

A standard wheeze is to offer say free broadband for a few months, but only as part of a combined telecoms deal and only as part of a 24 month contract. 

On telecoms packages are there any hidden extras such as voicemail or caller ID?

Services like First Telecom (www.firsttelecom.com), XLN Telecom (www.xlntelecom.co.uk) and Daisy Group (www.daisygroupplc.com) offer a range of business packages to look through. 

Tip 4: Deal or no deal 

It you already have telecoms and broadband in place it is worth checking if you have got a good deal and the right deal – especially as packages and prices change regularly. 

Services like DMSL and Auditel offer audits of your current bills and suggest options. 

Huddlebuy is currently offering a free audit through telecoms specialists DMSL.

Services like Make it Cheaper (www.makeitcheaper.com) are a useful way to compare broadband and telecom costs. 

Negotiating yourself with your current supplier when your contract period is coming to an end is another useful tactic – especially if you come armed with what details of deals you can get elsewhere. 

Tip 5: Talk can be cheap

Voice over internet protocol (or VoIP) is a great way of saving money on the cost of calls. If you contact someone else who has VoIP call (including international calls) can be free through a normal internet connection. 

And you don’t need much equipment to get started – in most cases speakers, a microphone (or a headset) and you are ready to go. 

Calls to normal numbers through a VoIP provider can also be significantly cheaper than calls made using an ordinary landline or mobile phone. And if you make a lot of international calls some providers offer you several numbers in different countries to help avoid hefty global bills. 

Skype (www.skype.com/intl/en-us/business/#t_small_business) has a range of VoIP services for businesses. It is also worth shopping around and trialing a few of the growing range of VoIP services available. For example Viber (www.viber.com) offers VoIP on iPhone and Android phones. 

A word of caution – VoIP services are a great way of saving money but you should probably use them in conjunction with a conventional phone service as they rely on a strong and reliable internet connection and cannot be used for things like emergency or operator services. 

Tip 6: Ringing up more cost savings

There are a whole range of other services that can help improve your business productivity:

Call management services can really help small businesses – and help ensure you never miss a call. Services like ereceptionist (www.ereceptionist.co.uk) provides a virtual phone system featuring 24/7 answering, call forwarding, call scheduling and voicemail to email.

Freephone 0800 numbers can boost trust and credibility – and sales. You can pick up a free number for three months to try it out for your business

Or you can get a 0844 local number.

Conference call, services like Pow Wow Now are useful. You can set up a call pretty quickly for free - and you pay the cost of a local 0844 call.

And for the busy international business person cheap roaming options are a must. Truphone (www.truphone.com) and MaxRoam (www.maxroam.com) can help.

Andy Yates, entrepreneur and director of Huddlebuy.co.uk, the daily deals site for entrepreneurs gives Real Business readers regular top money saving tips to help business owners save thousands of pounds.

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