Question: Sky recently had an outage across its network, and we were “lucky enough” to suffer the outage with it. We’re a fairly new business so we weren’t sure how to handle the problem. In the future do we let customers know it’s a provider problem or leave it be? And is there a short cut to ensuring we stay online even if there’s another outage?
Answer: Many businesses starting out are based at home, and may use a consumer broadband service. Sky, in its terms and conditions makes it clear the service is sold for consumer use, so in the first instance you want to move to a broadband provider that is happy to deal with you as a business, even if this means the connection is identical but that they can now generate VAT invoices.
Consumer and SME broadband is generally provided on a best efforts basis and while for major outages you can claim some money back, and Ofcom is looking at removing the ad-hoc nature of these currently and formalising a compensation scheme, the compensation is never going to make up for lost custom or trust of your customers.
One useful tip is to have two different connections to an office using different technologies. For example, if you have Fibre to the Cabinet and cable broadband available, taking a connection from both of these means you are using different networks. The probability of both failing at the same time is minimal. A common option is to have a main fibre to the cabinet service, and a slower ADSL/ADSL2+ service on a second phone line with a different provider – if your office has visitors on a regular basis the ADSL backup line could also be the guest WiFi.
If you are successfully running your business on a £30/m broadband connection, you don’t want to spend £100’s a month on backups., but things like making sure company email will work even when your office connection is down. Don’t do what many small firms have done in the past and host the mail server in the office.
Some broadband routers will support multiple connections to the Internet, so you can do things like plug in a 4G USB dongle and if the main broadband fails people in the office would switch seamlessly to that. Of course 4G usage allowances and the monthly cost need to be considered.
Other options are arrangements to share a connection with another nearby firm to share a connection, or letting staff work from home.
Business broadband connections can often have increased service level agreements that will mean you get priority when there is a fault with the telephone line, and maybe better compensation if there is a network wide outage at a provider. You can also take a look at best broadband provider post.
This article is part of our Real Business Broadband campaign, which seeks to provide a mouthpiece for business leaders to vocalise the broadband issues preventing their businesses from reaching full potential. We’d love to hear your take on the debate and where you think the UK needs to make drastic changes – and feel to ask us your broadband queries. Get in touch via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or join in on the action using #rbBroadband.
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