Beginners' guide to business broadband

Learn more about the basics of business broadband, such as what broadband packages include, speed, mobile options, security and support.

Business broadband

Why do you need business broadband?

If you're a business owner, you'll know that regular domestic broadband packages are unlikely to be up to speed with your internet requirements.

Business broadband packages can provide you with a more generous download capacity, as well as additional measures for support and security that are essential for business use.

Business broadband packages

You'll typically have to pay a one-off upfront charge to your new broadband provider, in addition to your monthly payment, to cover set-up costs and administration charges.

Normally broadband packages will include all the necessary equipment that you need to get started, such as a router.

However, if you already own a modem and router that you're satisfied with and provides you with a strong signal, you may want to use this instead of the one given by the broadband provider.

You must ensure that you're permitted to use your own equipment, though, as some providers may not allow this.

Packages will vary between suppliers but you're usually able to choose the different options your business requires to make a unique package which complements your company's needs, including:

The right internet speeds

Your broadband package needs to be fast and reliable to keep up with your business's online demands, so consider buying the fastest connection available in your budget.

A comprehensive security package can help to protect your business and should at the very least include anti-virus software, spyware protection and spam filtering

The definition of superfast broadband is ever-changing.

At the time of writing (August 2014), the European Union defined it as speeds of 24 megabytes per second (Mbps) or above, but note that packages are available that are significantly quicker than that.

Businesses located in rural areas may find it more difficult to access high speeds and in some cases any broadband at all, as it's harder to lay fibre optic broadband to reach properties in the countryside.

In our quotes process you can use our handy postcode checker to see what packages are available in your area.

Remember that broadband is sold as 'up to' a certain speed, so you won't necessarily receive the maximum speed advertised.

Download and upload capacity

Unlike a domestic internet package, a business broadband set-up should be more generous with its download capacity, and some packages will offer unlimited downloads.

It's not just downloads that you need to consider, though. Uploads, which are when one computer sends information to another (for example by sending an email), can take a toll on your internet speed, and a higher-specification package should make things faster.

Security

As well as computer viruses posing a threat to your business security, data loss and phishing scams can be costly for your company.

A comprehensive security package can help to protect your business and should at the very least include anti-virus software, spyware protection and spam filtering.

Scrimping on security could really do damage to your business in the long run.

Mobile broadband enables you to receive and respond to emails on your laptop and smartphone easily whilst enjoying high-speed internet connectivity, no matter where you are in the world

Support and back-up

Many business packages give you access to a specialist support centre in case you need to phone up with a broadband issue.

If you used a domestic package you may have to rely on a premium-rate number, costing you money and taking up time.

Most business suppliers will also provide an off-site back-up service to store documents remotely and securely, so you'll always have access to essential information and vital data if your computers are lost, stolen, or broken.

Static IP addresses

A static IP address is a must for businesses. It acts as an 'internet phone number' which enables computers or devices to talk to each other and exchange information.

The unique number is allocated by your internet provider and effectively provides an identity for the computer when it accesses the internet.

Domestic broadband packages differ in that they have 'dynamic' IPs, meaning that the address constantly changes. A static address enables:

  • Staff to work remotely using other servers or equipment from anywhere in the world
  • A website or domain name server to be hosted
  • The setup of an FTP server to receive files so that suppliers and clients can connect to your remote server
  • Having an email address of your own domain, for example Abbie@Gocompare.com

Mobile broadband

Mobile broadband can be useful if you or your employees spend a lot of time away from your company headquarters, for example to meet clients or attend meetings.

It enables you to receive and respond to emails on your laptop and smartphone easily whilst enjoying high-speed internet connectivity, no matter where you are in the world.

VoIP, or voice over internet protocol, enables your business to make low-cost or free calls over the internet to anywhere in the world

Providers may offer dedicated mobile services as part of your package or as an add on, so shop around to find a deal that works for you.

Web space, email and domains

Business broadband packages can offer free web space, email storage and domain registration which could provide value for money and convenience if you're starting out.

The online presence that your business needs will dictate the amount of web space you require. If your site consists of text with few images you may only need storage space of up to 1GB.

Once you start adding video, graphics and high-resolution images you'll need to increase your web space, and streaming websites may require their own dedicated web hosting server.

If you require more web space you'll probably need to purchase it separately - any that you receive through your broadband provider is likely to be capped at a certain limit.

VoIP

VoIP, or voice over internet protocol, enables your business to make low-cost or free calls over the internet to anywhere in the world.

Phone calls are so cheap with VoIP because your voice is converted to data which is then sent through the internet connection, so effectively the service is already paid for in your monthly broadband bill.

Contention ratios

Laptop

The contention ratio is essentially the number of users sharing one unit of data capacity, so a lower ratio will result in a higher quality service.

Business broadband will need a low contention ratio to ensure a reliable service.

Business broadband and phone packages

If you require a business phone line as well as broadband, you may want to consider a broadband and phone package.

This could also include offers to help lower your telephone bill, such as free calls to other numbers with the same provider.

By Abbie Laughton-Coles