Buying broadband and telephone services for your business has a few differences to home broadband. Sure, most of the time the technology used is similar, but buying the package that is right for your business is more important. We’re going to run you through the options that a small business in the UK has.
The phone line is actually important
When buying home broadband, customers are finding minimal use of the phone line choosing instead to just use their mobile phone. This is different for business broadband – you need a fixed line number for your customers to contact you on, and you need a reliable line for conference calls. Luckily pretty much every business broadband package comes with a phone line.
If you are looking to make conference calls you’ll find that most speaker phone functions on a normal handset sound terrible, or that most conference phones are aimed at large companies that run IP phone networks. You’ll be needing a conference phone that runs on a standard analogue telephone line. We’ve used this one can really can’t fault it: Polycom VoiceStation 300 Analogue Conference Phone.
The absolute best supplier technology wise is Hyperoptic. This company will put a dedicated fibre optic wire into your property (see this page for an explanation of the technology) with speeds up to 1000mb per second. Their coverage is limited however, so failing that your looking at about 200mb from Virgin Media or 76mb from everyone else including BT (who license their broadband lines from Openreach). All of these are very capable offerings.
When browsing business broadband you’ll also see options such as a leased line, or Ethernet lines. These remove the effect of contention ratio from your line (see a contention ratio explanation here) giving you more reliable speeds, but you really do have to pay for it. Usually they’re not needed for a small business.
Download vs Upload
Whilst the download speed is what will be used most, also pay attention to upload. If your going to be holding video conferences and WebEx meetings, or maybe giving your employees remote access you’ll need a good upload speed too. Be warned they’re usually slow than the download speed. For example, using BT’s Infinity Business broadband you get an upload speed of 19mb – for reference this is perfectly capable. You should beware of standard ADSL lines that may only offer circa 1mb upload.
What are the extras?
Small business broadband is often loaded with extras. Sometimes ones that you just don’t need, but sometimes there are some useful bits. For example, BT Business Broadband gives you a free subscription to Office 365 (which includes Microsoft Word and Excel). If you look to XLN Business Broadband they will give you access to national WiFi, which may be helpful for getting you online of you are on the road a lot.
TV packages are not important
Come on, you should be doing work not watching movies! Unless you have a really compelling reason to require a TV subscription then focus on what matters, reliable phone and broadband.
Bandwidth shaping often refers to a practice that internet providers make use of to limit your broadband at peak periods. You’ll find that, unlike home broadband with business broadband this should never happen during daytime working hours if at all.
Remote Access and Static IPs
If you, or your employees, need remote access to your office computers or servers the best way to do this is with a static IP; there are work arounds but they are not as reliable. An IP address is the numeric address that identifies your broadband line on the internet and it is usually dynamic; this means that it changes each time your router restarts or connects to the web. This causes problems for remote access because each time it changes you have to find it out.
A static IP ensures it never changes. Most broadband providers will give you one, BT for example will give you multiple static IP addresses if you want to make some more complex setups.
Limited or unlimited
Whilst the budget conscious may find broadband with a monthly allowance appealing it really is not worth the risk. The broadband connection can be the lifeblood of a business – if you use up your allowance in the middle of a webex it really doesn’t look good. Unlimited business broadband is not that expensive and should be considered essential.
Write down the costs
Bear in mind that the cost of the broadband and telephone needed to run your business are a deductible cost. This means that they come off your profit figure and so you don’t pay corporation tax on it.
Who to buy it from?
You need to take the time to decide which business broadband supplier is right for you. We like BT Business Broadband for the reliability and peace of mind it gives you as a business owner. However, we can recommend the following vendors and have provided direct links to their business broadband pages: