A reliable, fast broadband service is now as essential to the success of a business as capital, a solid business plan and a team of employees.
But does every business require a specialised business broadband connection? Or if you're running a smaller business, or a business from your home, can you get by with a cheaper home broadband service?
This guide will take you through the essential differences between home and business broadband, as well as the difficulties businesses could face if they choose a residential service.
Business broadband is a dedicated broadband connection that’s set up in an office or workspace to support a much larger demand for internet services.
Typically, business broadband packages are more comprehensive than residential broadband and have more dedicated services. So expect faster speeds, bigger capacity, more secure and reliable connections, and as a result, a higher monthly price
What's more, business broadband connections are widely accessible across the UK too. Recent broadband statistics show that, as of January 2022, the number of UK properties (both residential and commercial) that cannot receive a decent broadband service (having a download speed of at least 10 Mbit/s and an upload speed of at least 1 Mbit/s) from a fixed line stands at around 506,000—just 2%.
If you’re running a business containing more than ten employees, you should definitely consider getting a dedicated business broadband connection. There are a number of key features included in business broadband deals that are essential to keeping your business running smoothly.
Here's the difference between home and business broadband:
If your network has a fault, many of the best business broadband providers pledge to get your connection back up and running the next working day to minimise disruption and inconvenience to customers.
For example, many of the BT Business Broadband deals come with an ‘Always Connected Guarantee’ and will provide you with 4G mobile broadband hub to use as a backup in case there’s ever a problem with your fixed line broadband.
Service guarantees with residential broadband are much less common. And if providers do offer these guarantees, the timeframe in which they promise to get you back up and running is much longer.
In the event that a business broadband provider is unable to get you back online in the time frame promised in the contract, you're often entitled to compensation.
If your business broadband connection goes down, it's vital you get back online as soon as possible, or you could risk losing revenue and damaging your reputation. For that reason, business broadband deals typically offer around-the-clock, UK-based customer support, so you can get help with any problems whenever they occur.
In contrast, home broadband typically operates customer support services only during select hours.
Business broadband customer support staff also prioritise business broadband callers, so there’s less chance of you being stuck in a queue waiting to speak to an operator.
The likes of BT and TalkTalk prioritise business broadband traffic over residential broadband customers.
The result is that the speed and quality of your connection won't be affected by other customers' usage patterns, such as a neighbour downloading lots of HD video. This also means it won't slow down at busy times of day, keeping your business running smoothly.
If your home computer is hacked, it can be a major inconvenience. But if your business broadband network is compromised, it could be a disaster for you and for your clients.
For that reason, business broadband services come equipped with higher-grade security software.
Business broadband routers and residential routers can differ substantially. If you only need to connect 10 - 12 computers, a standard residential router or small business router will be fine. If you're a larger business, you'll need a more powerful Wi-Fi router that provides coverage between 1,500 to 2,000 square feet and over multiple storeys.
Business broadband routers also provide higher levels of security, including a VPN server and firewall, and filter content, too.
A residential broadband service gives you a dynamic IP address. This is a unique number to identify your computer, so your IP address will change every time you connect to the internet.
With business broadband deals, though, you're provided with a static IP address. This allows you to use your connection for a host of business-specific features that are critical to the day-to-day operation of many businesses.
With a static IP address, you can:
Host your own server, which is vital if your business needs to receive large files. Plus, it ensures clients can connect to your server without complications.
Host your own website or domain name server.
Remotely connect to your computer from another PC so staff can access applications remotely.
Work more efficiently with fewer distractions on business broadband
Business broadband providers focus much harder on supplying a faster, more reliable, and attentive service. There’s little point in getting an ADSL business broadband connection as these are only suitable for occasional internet users. This doesn’t fit the criteria for premises which operate as a business.
For example, Virgin business broadband runs its own advanced cable broadband network, giving you speeds of up to 500Mbps no matter where your offices are located.
Plusnet and TalkTalk offer business broadband deals with similar speeds to their residential counterparts, but the number of devices being used in your office won't impact the internet speed like it would on your home connection.
And while download speeds are similar to, if slightly faster than, residential broadband, you’re likely to find much faster upload speeds for business broadband connections than home broadband. This is essential when using the internet to upload files, make video calls and work on shared drives.
Most business broadband services are delivered via fibre optic connections, providing average speeds of 76Mbps, with some going as fast as 1Gbps.
While home broadband usually has a lower monthly price, this can actually be a bit of a false economy. As we've seen above, you could end up missing out on revenue if something goes wrong, and you're unable to get a quick response from customer support.
Business broadband is arguably also a better value because of the extras that come with it. For instance, all business broadband providers also supply customers with multiple email accounts which will be specific to your business (for example firstname.lastname@example.org) and will present a more professional image to clients.
With BT business broadband, for instance, you'll also get free access to its nationwide Wi-Fi network, so you can get online while you're on the move. Other providers offer similar services too, although larger providers are able to offer wider coverage.
Business broadband is often more expensive than home broadband, so if you're working from home situation looks to be temporary, then you probably don’t need to upgrade to business broadband. However, if your home is set to be your office for the long run, it’s a great option to get business broadband installed at home.
The benefits of business broadband, like increased security and guaranteed bandwidth, are often worth the added expense –– especially if your business relies heavily on a strong connection and being online at all times.
It’s also worth noting that the cost of a business broadband connection can be claimed as a business expense, and therefore can be deducted from your end-of-year tax bill.
Check out our latest business broadband deals to see if getting a dedicated business broadband connection could save you money and make your business more efficient.
With many of us working from home at least part of the time, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your broadband.Read our broadband guide to working from home