A Beginner’s Guide to Business Broadband
Modern businesses are usually heavily reliant on their broadband connectivity, and choosing a suitable business broadband provider is often essential for increasing productivity and sales. While having a high-speed connection is certainly a priority, reliability and customer support are even more essential. Ultimately, your broadband connection serves to make your business run more efficiently, so you’ll want to take some time to shop around for the most suitable package.
Home vs. Business Broadband
Some small business owners are tempted to opt for a home broadband package in order to save costs, but this is generally an unwise choice. Any business broadband provider should be able to offer the following over a typical home broadband package:
- Improved customer support
- Better contention ratios
- Faster connections
- Static IP address
- Unlimited connectivity
- Additional security features
The above factors present the most important considerations when choosing a business broadband package. After all, an unsuitable package could lead to decreased reliability, performance and security, leading to major consequences when it comes to the smooth running of your business.
Should your Internet connection suddenly stop working, you’ll need to be able to rely on prompt customer support without having to pay for any additional services. A business broadband package should feature priority support over any home broadband service. A single day without your connection working can quickly become very costly for any business that relies on the Internet for its daily functions.
Any business broadband provider should be able to provide help immediately, and you should be able to reach customer support by phone 24 hours per day at any time of year. Some of the better providers even have a Service Level Agreement whereby they will be committed to fixing any problems that arise within a given time span.
One of the main distinguishing factors between home and business broadband packages is the lower contention ratio. The contention ratio refers to the number of users connected to the same server. For a typical home broadband connection, there may be a contention ratio as high as 50:1, meaning that up to 50 people may be connected to the server at the same time.
Business broadband packages typically offer a much lower contention ratio of 20:1 or better. Lower contention ratios lead to faster and more reliable connections, particularly during peak times. Although many home broadband providers don’t advertise their contention ratios, business broadband providers usually do, and for the best performance, you’ll want a contention ratio of 10:1 or better.
Unfortunately, the maximum connection speed will vary depending on where you live, and there are even some rural areas that still don’t have access to any standard broadband options. However, you’ll want to go for the fastest connection available in your area, and if you can take advantage of the latest fibre-optic broadband technology, you’ll have a significant advantage.
Thanks to lower contention ratios and generally improved services, business broadband packages are often faster when it comes to download and upload speeds. The best fibre-optic broadband packages, although still not widely available, offer download speeds of up to 152Mbps, making them excellent for sending and receiving large files and managing online databases and other resources.
Static IP Address
An IP address is a number assigned to any device connected to the Internet. With home broadband connections, the IP address is usually dynamic, meaning that it changes each time a device is connected to the Internet. While having a dynamic IP address rarely presents any problem for the home user, a business broadband package should feature a static IP address that is always the same.
With their more rigid requirements, businesses should generally opt for a static IP address, since it allows you to host your own servers. In other words, you’ll be able to host your own file (FTP) server, website or set up your own database servers, backup servers and email servers instead of having to rely on other providers. It also allows you to set up a virtual private network (VPN), which is better for security.
The last thing any business user wants is to have their Internet disconnected or the speed throttled back once they reach a certain data limit. Many cheaper home broadband packages come with a limited data plan, and this can be as little as 2GB per month. By comparison, most business broadband services have no download or upload limits.
Not only will you need an unlimited connection; you’ll also want to find out if the provider has a fair usage policy (FUP). Some service providers offer unlimited downloads, but there may be an FUP written into the small print which states that, under certain periods of heavy use, the speed of your connection could be significantly reduced. Any business broadband service should be truly unlimited.
While security should be a priority for any Internet user, it should be the first priority for any business user. After all, a major security breach could present disaster for your business, so you’ll want to take advantage of any additional services that will improve the security of your connection. Important security features include a VPN, a dedicated firewall and additional authentication services.
With a protected VPN, you, your employees, customers and partners will be able to access internal systems remotely when necessary, while a dedicated firewall service will help to protect your internal resources from potential threats such as malicious software and hackers. A business broadband provider may also offer additional tools such as malicious software protection and spam control.
You’ll find that most of the companies that offer broadband packages to home users also provide business broadband packages with the features mentioned above. However, since the Internet is likely critical to your business operations, you’ll want to carefully research and review all of the options before comparing the various deals available online.