Broadband is essential for most businesses, but domestic packages designed for home use probably won’t cut it. Your business needs a reliable connection, a fast broadband speed and a good level of service that only a business broadband deal can provide.
What is business broadband?
Business broadband caters for small to large businesses by providing a service beyond that of a personal broadband connection. Services vary depending on provider, but can range from free set up and free equipment such as routers, to bundles that include free calls and unlimited usage.
Why business broadband?
Business packages differ from domestic broadband deals in a few ways, but the most obvious are that you may get dedicated technical support and you may experience a better bandwidth at peak times of the day (around 50% compared to domestic broadband of 20%), so your internet shouldn’t fall off when it is most-needed. Furthermore, many business broadband deals include a static IP address.
Static IP address
Having a static IP address allows you to host your own servers. In layman’s terms an IP (internet protocol) address is the way other computers identify your business computer over the internet.
Most domestic broadband connections have a dynamic IP address, which means it changes each time you log on. But business broadband connections normally use a static IP address, which means your online identifier stays the same, much like a business address you would send and receive post to.
A static IP address is great for businesses because you can host your own servers, host websites, host email servers, create your own virtual private network (VPN), and log on to your network from anywhere in the world. Plus, if you wanted to, you could run a CCTV system via your network so you would be able to see the business premises anytime.
But of course, this is only the beginning, business broadband packages can also provide data management privileges, backup up and recovery services for your devices, and cloud-based software for when you are away from the office.
How much technical support you need and receive will differ considerably with a business broadband account. This is due to the importance of your server and website. And if your server does go down, it is imperative that it is not down for too long because your company could lose business.
So when considering a business broadband provider, make sure you look though the service level agreement (SLA). The SLA will identify when you can get support (business hours or 24 hours), how much support you’ll get, if you can get engineers to fix the problem, and any response times. Any worthwhile business broadband provider will have an SLA and will often be open for negotiation n certain clauses.
You should also make sure to check for antivirus and anti-spam filtering features for your website and email, respectively. These security features are a must for businesses using a static IP address, because they are vulnerable and more easily hackable. Think about getting a password-protected extranet – a place to store data – which can be backed up daily or with a cloud-based network.
Business broadband mobile
It might be a good idea to get a mobile broadband account too, if you or your employees are out of the office a lot while going to meetings, for example. This will enable your company members to browse the internet, read and respond emails and generally keep on top of work when you are away from the business.
You should also check about whether your provider has cloud features, because you can then use your server and data from anywhere, making your business completely mobile. Obviously you could also have a business mobile contract, or use the local Wi-Fi but these might not be as secure as a dedicated mobile broadband package or cloud service.
What about web hosting?
Web hosting is different to broadband, but worth knowing about. Companies will often offer three different ways of hosting your business’s website.
- You can have shared hosting, which means you share a server with different companies. This can be slow at times but are good for websites with a slower bandwidth.
- If you have a dedicated server, then you have the entire server alone, which pretty much guarantees a faster performance.
- Finally, you can have a cloud-based server, which draws from a pool of resources allowing for dynamic hosting.
How to compare business broadband
Before you compare business broadband, you need to be clear about your requirements. To get the best idea of what you need for your business you should do a data audit, so you know exactly how much data your company would download or upload – including documents sent over email or uploads and downloads to and from file sharing sites.
It’s advisable to get the best broadband package you can afford and then let your business grow into it, rather than opting for a cheaper deal that leaves you at risk of not having enough data, speed, or services.
There quite a few UK internet providers that offer well-priced and very fast business broadband connections, catering for small and large businesses and everything in between. When you compare business broadband deals, you can find options tailored to the needs of your company, whether that be high-speed fibre or unlimited data, or a dedicated support team for any problems that arise. But remember to give the postcode of your business premises, as some packages aren’t available everywhere.