Having a fast, reliable broadband connection is now mandatory for running a successful business. In fact, research shows that it can cost an average of £904 per hour when broadband goes down during the working day.
All businesses of all kinds need an internet presence and to be contactable and accessible at any time. Getting to that point is now easier than ever, but still needs consideration.
Business broadband vs. Residential broadband
As soon as you begin researching business broadband, you will quickly realise that it is often more expensive than home broadband. So what do you get for your money and is it worth it?
Business broadband is worth the extra investment for several reasons. Here are just a few:
- Traffic prioritisation – Business traffic is prioritised over residential traffic. That means at the busiest times, your connection will always be faster than home users. Some packages will guarantee minimum speeds and bandwidth so you can always be sure of what you’re getting.
- Lower contention – For non-cable broadband customers, contention can literally be a bone of contention. Contention describes the number of customers on a single link to the core network. Residential broadband can be between 20:1 to 50:1. This means between 20 and 50 households can share the same connection at the same time. Business broadband is much lower, sometimes 1:1 to 5:1 depending on your package and where you live. This has obvious benefits for network speeds at peak times.
- Tighter SLAs – Home broadband is often provided on a ‘best endeavour’ basis. That means your internet speeds are maintained as much as practicable and any faults are fixed as soon as possible. Business broadband will have tighter timescales with compensation for faults that fall outside of that.
- Better customer service – If you have ever had to call a broadband provider for help, you will know how mixed that help can be. Usually, business broadband customers get priority help, longer support hours and much more experienced agents.
- Better security – Depending on your provider, business broadband customers have access to more security options. It is still your responsibility to manage your own network, but you may be able to access hardware firewalls, DDoS protection, cloud antivirus and other features should you want to.
- Extra features – Some packages include value-add features such as static IP addresses which are useful if you run a web server or email server. You may also be able to access virtual switchboards, answering services, contact centre features and hardware rental options.
Types of business broadband
As a business customer, you have the same connection options as a residential customer, plus a couple of others. Depending on what is available in your area you can access ADSL, cable, fibre, EFM or leased lines.
ADSL broadband uses the copper phone network run by BT Openreach. It is a legacy technology but one still in common use in areas without FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) or FFTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) services. It is subject to contention which is where being a business customer could potentially offer higher service levels.
Virgin Media are currently the only cable operator in town and offer a dedicated network that is separate from BT’s. It uses a combination of FTTP, FTTC and coaxial connections to deliver services to a property. Cable has much lower contention than ADSL and offers generally faster speeds but is limited in geographical availability.
Fibre broadband comes in a range of forms. There are the FTTP and FTTC connections already mentioned but leased lines and EFM (Ethernet First Mile) will also likely have a fibre component. Some business broadband can offer fibre to the building while others can deliver fibre to the cabinet and then copper or ethernet to the premises.
EFM (Ethernet First Mile)
EFM (Ethernet First Mile) connections are the first level of leased line and is usually for larger businesses or those who depend on always having guaranteed bandwidth. It uses a fibre network to the cabinet and then multiple copper pairs to the building. Where it differs is that speed and/or bandwidth is guaranteed and speeds are symmetrical, meaning upload and download speed is the same.
Leased lines can be EFM or fibre and describe the fact you’re leasing a dedicated connection. Leased lines can be FTTP or EFM and will offer very fast speeds with guaranteed minimum speeds and bandwidth. They also come with good SLAs and high service quality and availability. They are expensive though and are usually for larger businesses or those who depends on a constant connection with guaranteed service quality.
Like any decision, choosing the best business broadband package for your needs requires research and consideration before you make a choice. This article should help you do just that.