Business Broadband Guide
Quality broadband internet access is a valuable asset to many businesses, particularly those in the technology sector. B2C e-commerce was valued at almost £1000 per person in the UK during 2011, according to Ofcom. So in order for these companies to provide a quality service to customers and operate effectively, a strong internet connection is definitely required. Therefore, most companies will benefit from a good business broadband package as we’ll see later in this guide.
Broadband is a high bandwidth internet connection and is now the standard for internet access here in the UK. Broadband carries a large amount of data to your PC, smart-phone, laptop or tablet using either cable telephone networks, satellite or mobile phone networks,. Ofcom announced in March 2013 that the average speed of residential households in Britain is 12 Megabits per second (Mbps), although depending on the area that you live in, that speed will vary.
However, UK businesses have needs that are different to that of a domestic household. As well as fast download/upload speeds, businesses need uniform email addresses, enhanced security, networking capability and higher levels of technical support.
What to consider when choosing a business broadband package
Here are the main factors you will need to consider when choosing a business broadband package:
- Security: You will require a level of security that is higher than that needed by a domestic user. Most internet service providers offer enhanced anti-virus and spyware protection in their packages. Look out for those that also offer firewalls and online data back-ups. The former is especially useful for retrieving files that have been lost locally.
- Networks: Do the business broadband packages you are looking at allow for computer networks? It they do, find out how many computers they support and whether there is room for future expansion. Additionally, check for wireless networking capacity too.
- Download/Upload speed: Basically, you’ll need the fastest speed you can afford. Typical speeds offered are usually around 8Mb, 2Mb is the minimum, but speeds of up to 24Mb are available. A fast upload speed is also desirable, especially if you need to upload a lot of information to websites etc.
- Contention ratios: Due to factors such as traffic volume, speeds can vary, especially at peak times. The larger the amount of people online, the higher the contention ratio. Therefore you should be looking for low contention ratios in order to get regular high speeds.
- Static IP addresses: A static/fixed IP address gives a look of professionalism to prospective clients. It allows you to have uniform company email addresses, run your own email server, website and connect to your computer wherever you are in the world.
- VoIP services: Most ISP’s offer this type of software in their business packages. They are especially useful for overseas conference calls with foreign clients.
- Contracts: Remember to consider the length of them and do not get taken in by introductory offers. Contracts offered by the main ISP’s are generally either 12 or 24 months long.
The advantages of business broadband
The advantages of using a business broadband package are many, providing practical solutions and giving a sheen of professionalism. This type of set-up will allow you to network your computers, use company email and run your company website. If you have more than one office, then networking your computers through a business broadband package will help them communicate more effectively.
Obviously, businesses are at risk from viruses and hacking attempts, but most ISP’s bundle excellent anti-virus and spyware programmes in their business broadband packages. Many also offer prioritised technical support, especially useful as for many businesses, as being offline for long periods of time costs money and sometimes customers!
On the down side, business internet packages tend to be more expensive than a domestic set-up. They are usually more complicated to install, although set-up is often offered by the ISP either for free or for a price of around £50.
Finally, static/fixed IP addresses are prone to being hacked, although the anti-virus and spyware packages provided in these packages should be enough to evade hacking attempts, as long as they are regularly updated.