The internet is one of the most powerful tools of the 21st century. It allows businesses to tap into a wider pool of customers, so speed and reliability are necessary for broadband connections.
Many people assume they can use the same broadband they use at home for business. But there’s a reason why business broadband comes at a higher price – for one, it won’t grind to a halt at peak times.
You can’t afford the same sluggish pace that comes with everyone tuning into their favourite TV drama. For a business, a slow website means a loss of customers.
In a sense, business broadband is more geared towards driving online performance, offering increased speed and around the clock support.
Here we discuss the benefits of business broadband and take a look at the best UK broadband providers.
Main benefits of business broadband
While some providers charge extra for business broadband packages, it’s not often obvious what the advantages are. We outline six key benefits below:
Business broadband providers typically offer faster upload speeds compared to consumer counterparts.
Another reason for its quicker speed is a low contention ratio – the number of people using the line at the same time. Some 20-50 people share the same consumer bandwidth. This number decreases to 1-5 for business services.
You’ll be privy to better security, to help combat the likes of malware and trojan viruses.
Support lines are open 24/7, with providers offering access to specialist contact centres and engineers.
Most business broadband packages include web hosting, emails and domain names.
You get a static IP address. With consumer broadband, you’re allocated a new one every time you connect. The benefit of having a static IP address – one that doesn’t change – is that you can run in-house services.
Main things to consider when signing up for business broadband?
Network provider Lumitri suggests “you’ll want to be confident that the line you use is able to deal with your data requirements. The most common metric used to measure such things is bandwidth. Typically, higher bandwidth connections cost more, so you’ll want to investigate all the options.”
A lesser-known consideration is that of latency, according to Lumitri.
“Latency is the amount of time required for packets of data to move from one location to another. In other words, latency can be considered just as important as bandwidth for choosing a lightning-fast business broadband connection.
“Also, the best broadband in the world is useless if it takes months to connect. While many consumer lines may take two to four weeks to connect, business lines can be far more variable.”
There are two factors that could impact speed of installation. The first is your chosen package and the second is the provider – leased lines can take longer to install, for example. Know what the lead time is between sign-up and connection. Faster options could soon be available via Google Fibre broadband which is capable of 1GB speeds and is currently available in some parts of the USA.
What to look for in a business broadband provider
Aside from cost, there are several things you should look for when comparing the best business broadband suppliers; these are:
Speed – the speed of your business broadband depends on the provider you choose. If you have access to fibre then you’ll achieve much better speeds than traditional broadband through a phone line, and the distance from the exchange can also play a part in what speed you get.
SLAs/guarantees – look for providers that offer a short support time, or who guarantee that your service won’t drop below a certain percentage
Security – most UK business broadband providers will make security of your connection one of their most important factors, but ask them what features they have to ensure your data is secure
Static IP address – if you’re planning on running an email or FTP server you’ll need a static IP address. Check with your business broadband provider if they’ll provide a static IP.
Breakdown of the major business broadband suppliers
Picking a broadband provider isn’t easy. So to help you make a decision we compare some of the best UK business broadband suppliers – and the packages they have to offer.
Sheffield-based plusnet is known for its affordable and straightforward packages. While it’s owned by BT, the company runs independently. It has a multitude of offerings, from broadband, fast fibre optic broadband to mobile.
There’s unlimited broadband, with no download limits.
Special offers can be found on a regular basis.
The company is known for its good customer service.
Fibre optic broadband isn’t readily available everywhere.
There are limited extras as it favours simple and affordable.
One of the best business broadband packages offered by plusnet
TalkTalk Business broadband packages are ideal for smaller companies. Its offerings fall under two categories: ADSL and fibre optic. The company zones in on VOIP and mobile services – and allows you to manage data through hosted data centres.
Its prices are fixed for 18 months, so you won’t face sudden price increases.
Phone plans offer unlimited calls.
Static IPs are a standard.
There’s a lot of flexibility within the packages, making some a bit complicated in nature.
SMEs can choose from two primary business broadband packages: Essential or Voom. The former is dedicated to businesses with only a few people in the office. Voom, on the other hand, is more pricey, but offers greater speeds.
There are unlimited downloads for all available packages.
It’s been lauded for its fast fault response.
You can get managed internet access – a connection that you don’t have to share.
Onebill has a penchant for the “unlimited,” offering unlimited calls and downloads. The company has mostly geared its packages towards SMEs. Each includes a free router and comes complete with a 24 month contract.
It offers cheap and unlimited calls on mobile and phone landlines.
Low-cost packages are specifically geared towards businesses.
Technical support and customer service is said to be outstanding.
Fibre optic options aren’t available at all locations.
Business features such as cloud storage is missing.
bOnline offers three packages for businesses: normal business, business plus and fibre. Where the first is for small office use, the fibre package caters for multiple people being online at the same time.
You get access to your invoices and accounts through a mobile app.
SEO tools are available to boost your search engine rankings.
It offers web design help.
Fibre optic options aren’t available at all locations.
Fibre optic packages only come with 18 month contracts.
Topple does basic and straightforward business broadband really well – for the new startup or small business. It’s easy to use, coming without all the bells and whistles that other broadband providers offer.
Free routers are included.
Unlimited and international call packs are on offer.
There’s a super fibre optic package.
It’s more suited for smaller companies than medium ones.
Many common business broadband features are missing.
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