A reliable, fast broadband service is now as essential to the success of a business as capital, a solid business plan and hard-working staff. But does every business require a specialised business broadband connection? Or can you get by with a cheaper, home broadband service?
To figure out whether home or business broadband is right for you, read on to learn about the essential differences between the two, as well as some of the pitfalls businesses could fall into if they choose a residential service.
What is business broadband?
Business broadband is a dedicated broadband connection that’s set up in an office or workspace. Typically business broadband packages are more comprehensive than residential broadband. So expect faster speeds, more secure and reliable connections, dedicated services and, of course, a higher monthly price.
Do I need business broadband?
If you’re running a business of more than ten or 12 people, you’ll need to get 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.
Confused? Read on and we’ll explain:
1. Service guarantee and compensation
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.
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.
2. Better, business-specific customer support
If your 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.
That's in contrast to home broadband, which operates customer support services that are only open at select times.
Business broadband customer support staff also prioritise business broadband callers, so you won't be stuck in a queue waiting to speak to an operator like you might if you chose a residential broadband provider.
3. Business broadband traffic is prioritised
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.
4. Better security
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.
5. A router that's made for businesses
Business routers and residential routers can differ substantially. If you only need to connect between ten and 12 computers, a standard residential router or small business router will be fine. If you're a larger business, you'll need a larger 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.
6. Static IP address
Choose a residential broadband service and you'll get 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 businesses.
With a static IP address, you can:
- Host your own server, which is vital if your business needs to receive large files and 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.
Is business broadband faster than residential?
Business broadband packages on the whole focus on providing faster, more reliable connections. There’s little point in getting a ADSL business broadband connection as these are only suitable for occasional internet users, which doesn’t fit the criteria for premises which operate as a business.
For example, with Virgin Media Business broadband runs of its own advanced cable broadband network, giving you speeds of up to 500Mbps no matter where your offices are located.
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.
Why is business broadband more expensive than home broadband?
With some broadband suppliers offering broadband free on select packages, the savings on offer mean it can be tempting to sign up for home broadband over a dedicated business service.
But that's actually a false economy — not least because, 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 better value because of the extras you get 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, and you'll also get free Wi-Fi via its nationwide network, so you can get online while you're on the move. Other carriers offer similar services too, although larger providers are able to offer wider coverage.
Can you get business broadband if you’re running a business from home?
Business broadband is often more expensive than home broadband, so if your 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, you can 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.