Many internet providers offer a broadband bundle, or package deals, that come with extras to make them more enticing. So, what is out there, and which extras would be helpful to your business?
Choosing a broadband bundle can mean sifting through a plethora of extras. Trying to work out which providers offer what benefits, and which ones your company would gain from, can be tricky.
A lot of people may be used to a broadband bundle including TV, broadband and telephone connections, but for businesses the extras can be more specific.
Some benefits – such as being able to access free WiFi at hotspots around the country – are fairly well-known, whereas others – such as offering unified comms or call centre solutions – might not be. One thing is certain however, if your business relies on broadband, there are likely to be some surprise extras that could make a difference.
“Broadband is only a means to an end. As the digital age progresses it’s what you can do with it that’s important,” says Melvin Griffiths, broadband product manager at Virgin Media Business.
“PAYG cloud applications, flexible working, collaboration tools, the internet of things – and whatever the future may bring – will all be dependent on fast, reliable, secure internet connectivity. Its these extras that meet the needs of small businesses and deliver the step change in performance.”
Here, we outline some of the most useful extras available on the market today.
The classic broadband bundle: communications
First and foremost, your broadband connection is about communication, and there are lots of broadband extras out there that are geared around improving your telephony.
Some providers now offer VoIP products as part of the package deals. VoIP, or Voice over IP, simply means taking calls over the internet, but it has its advantages over a traditional landline.
For a start, you aren’t tied to a desk – you can make calls from anywhere you have a connection, and your number will remain the same. VoIP services are also typically cheaper, more scalable, and offer a range of features such as call recording that can be useful for training.
In addition, some providers offer unified communications services, which integrate options such as phone, video conferencing and email. It makes for a more collaborative approach, anywhere, anytime.
Looking suave: professionalism
One thing you might consider is getting a static IP address. An IP address is a number that your provider uses to identify your computer when you go on the internet, and usually they change every rime – this is known as a dynamic IP address.
Having a static IP gives you better remote access to your data, plus it enables more reliable VoIP calls. In addition, it allows you to run your own server so you can host your own website and have personalised business email addresses. Overall, it offers more professionalism, and used correctly it can give an impression of scale to an outsider.
Some providers will give you a static IP address automatically when you sign up for a business account, and with others you may need to request it.
Furthermore, some providers offer call centre solutions. This again can offer an impression of being a much larger business, and can help your business out if you are short-staffed.
Making it work for you: flexibility
As previously mentioned, some of the extras allow you to work more flexibly – for example, having a static IP address means you can easily access files remotely, and VoIP calls don’t have to tie you to a desk like old-fashioned landlines.
Some providers have expanded upon this theme to enable small and medium-sized business owners to work even more flexibly – not everyone has an office, or set working hours, and flexible working is increasingly becoming the norm.
Look out for cloud business application extras in broadband bundles that allow you to take your business with you. For example, Microsoft Office 365 uses the cloud to give business owners easy access to programmes like Word, Excel and Outlook – no matter where they are.
Not all broadband bundles will be right for you, but chances are, something will strike a chord.
“We use size and industry amongst other factors to help guide customers towards the solutions that are right for them,” explains Griffiths.
“Every customer gets 350Mb, and then they can tailor the service by adding phone lines, SIM-only plans and cloud apps as incentivised elements of their bundle.”
If your business could be improved by accessing files in the cloud, anywhere in the country, or by hosting your own website to build a stronger reputation, the first place to look is your broadband contract – make it work for you.