Broadband for businesses
Setting up a broadband connection at your business premises is important if you rely on the internet to run your business. A business broadband package that is specifically tailored towards businesses like yours can allow you to enjoy a fast, reliable and relatively cheap internet connection.
The following is a guide to business broadband, and how it can help your business.
What is business broadband?
Broadband is a type of high-speed internet connection that is now a commonly-used medium for accessing the internet for households and businesses alike. While you may be able to rely on your household broadband for your business, there are several reasons why it might be more beneficial to purchase a business broadband connection.
What are the features of a business broadband package?
Business broadband packages are designed to fulfil the broadband needs of businesses. As such, business broadband tends to be more reliable than domestic broadband, with faster speeds and an increased level of customer support and security.
The main features of a business broadband package include:
Value for money
Alongside offering the features described below, broadband providers often offer cheaper packages for their business users compared to what they offer to domestic customers. These competitive business broadband deals are structured so that providers can offer a range of prices, with premium-rate packages offering more advanced features.
Business broadband users often have unlimited access to the internet although some providers only offer unlimited usage at a premium.
Business broadband packages often provide faster connection speeds to meet the demands of a business. Business broadband should allow faster download and upload capacities than a domestic broadband package, with some providers offering unlimited downloads. Among other benefits, this makes it easier to run your business website, communicate with large volumes of customers or clients via the internet, and receive larger files.
Typical figures include up to 24 Mbps (megabits per second) for downloading and up to 1 Mbps for uploading. Your broadband provider may use technology such as symmetric DSL and optical carrier lines for faster upload speeds of up to 600 Mbps.
This refers to the volume of traffic at the bandwidth where you are logged in. The higher the contention ratio, the more people are attempting to use the service at the same time as you. Your business broadband should allow you to access a separate server that is reserved for your business. Try to find a broadband package with a lower contention ratio to provide faster speeds for your business. This should also make your business broadband connection more reliable than your connection at home.
Ensuring two or more computers can share information and resources may be an important feature for your business broadband package. Broadband providers may make networking available wirelessly as well as allowing expansion of your network as your business grows.
Static IP address
A static IP address is a unique number allocated to your business by your broadband provider. The number of static IP addresses available is limited, and as such is reserved for premium internet users such as those who have a business broadband account. Most business broadband deals include at least one free static IP address. While a dynamic IP address such as those offered for domestic broadband changes at regular intervals, a static IP address always remains the same.
Among other benefits, a static IP address can allow:
- Remote access to your business’s online presence including servers and other equipment.
- The ability to host your own website or domain name server.
- The ability to access your server from anywhere in the world.
- The ability to set up an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server to send and receive large files from your suppliers and clients.
- An email address that incorporates your domain name.
- A more reliable VOIP (see below).
Voice over Internet Protocol services allow you to make low-cost or free calls over the internet. This could be cheaper than using landlines or mobile phones and can come in handy if you regularly make calls overseas or use video conferencing.
Useful if you or your employees spend time away from your business premises for work, mobile broadband allows you to use your smartphone or tablet to access the internet. Your provider may include a dedicated mobile broadband service as part of your overall business broadband package, or they may include this option as an add-on.
Free web hosting, cloud space, web space, email addresses for employees, email storage and domain registration may be offered with a business broadband package. Depending on the size of your business’s online presence, you may only need storage space of up to 1GB. Broadband providers often place a cap on the amount of web space they are willing to provide. If you require more web space you may need to purchase it separately.
A security package is often included in business broadband packages, with anti-virus software, spyware protection, firewalls, spam filtering and data loss protection.
While domestic broadband customers often have to rely on premium-rate numbers to solve their broadband issues, business broadband customers may be given access to a specialist support centre which can also provide a back-up service where they can securely and remotely store documents.
A leased line can provide your business with its own internet connection, which can be useful if you are a heavy internet user or want greater security from your connection. Keep in mind that a leased line means you only receive the speeds you pay for, which can mean you miss out on higher speeds offered with regular business broadband.
Priority support and network access
Broadband providers often prioritise their business customers when it comes to customer support and providing access to the internet during peak periods of high demand. You are often given a free phone number you can call at any time and your provider may even include a guarantee that any problem you report will be solved within a set period of time.
Do I need business broadband?
You might need a dedicated business broadband account if your business involves any of the following activities:
- Sending and receiving email from customers, suppliers, investors and other businesses.
- Creating and maintaining a business website or online store.
- Creating and maintaining social media accounts for your business.
- Using web-based business or marketing tools and software.
- Using the internet for collaborative working with business partners overseas.
- Accessing the internet to help supplement day-to-day business activities.
Before purchasing a broadband package, you’ll need to consider each of the features offered to make sure the business broadband package you ultimately choose provides both value for money and a level of service that's right for your business. If you require a business phone line as well, you might consider a broadband and phone package instead.
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