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Getting a business broadband deal

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usiness broadband deals are aimed at small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Business broadband is usually more expensive than home broadband – but you get more for your money.

This guide is aimed at SMEs – larger corporations will usually need a bespoke broadband deal tailored to their particular business.  

What is business broadband?

Business broadband deals are designed for both companies with offices or other premises, and those with staff working remotely from home.  

Business broadband offers features not usually included on home broadband deals. These include faster speeds, service guarantees, enhanced customer support, static IP addresses, and web services.

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How does it differ to home broadband?

While they may not be immediately obvious, there are a number of differences between home and business broadband.

Customer service

Business broadband generally offers much better support than that available to home broadband customers. 

In the event of a service outage, call centres for business callers are usually UK-based, open 24/7, and are adequately staffed to answer calls without a lengthy wait.  

Business users are generally prioritised over residential broadband customers, so if your broadband goes down it will be dealt with quickly.

Static IP address

An IP address is the code that identifies your computer when it goes online. Home broadband services offer a dynamic IP address which changes each time you log on.  

But business broadband deals normally give you a static IP address, or multiple static IP addresses.  

Why does this matter? You can do a lot more with a static IP address, such as run your own server, host your own website, and use services such as remote desktop applications.

Service level agreements

Most business broadband deals offer a service level agreement (SLA). This agreement will set out uptime guarantees, connection speeds, timescales to repair faults, and compensation if your broadband provider fails to meet these targets.

SLAs vary between packages with the same provider so read the small print carefully.

Home broadband doesn’t generally come with any service guarantee – meaning you’ll struggle to get compensation if your connection is unreliable.

Priority over home broadband

Broadband providers’ traffic management policies work in favour of business users – they get priority over home broadband users.

Home users can suffer from slow speeds due to the contention ratio – the number of users sharing data capacity – but business users don’t have to worry about this so much.

This means your broadband speed is more likely to be consistent and reliable.

A better router

Home and business broadband routers have some significant differences. Business-grade routers tend to have improved wireless signal strength and better security. Depending on the router, they can support larger areas (i.e. big multi-storey offices) and more devices.

Improved security

Cybersecurity is vital when you’re running a business, so business broadband deals tend to come with better security designed to protect your firm against malware, viruses and Trojans.

Other features might include data backup, and use of a virtual private network (VPN).

Faster speeds

Most business broadband deals are delivered via fibre optic connections that offer faster speeds than ADSL broadband.

Download speeds will be similar to residential broadband with the same speed connection, but upload speeds are likely to be faster. Upload speeds are important to businesses which need to upload files, make video calls, and work on shared drives.

Better contention ratios mean there will be fewer people using the line at the same time as you.    

Integrated phone systems

Home broadband normally comes bundled with a phone line. But business broadband offers a lot more – it can be set up with a phone system or switchboard, extra lines, VoIP phone calls, video calling, individual voicemails, and non-geographic phone numbers.  

Web services

Web services can normally be added to a business broadband deal. These include things like web hosting and servers, an extranet or intranet, PC security, domain names, cloud storage, and multiple email addresses.  

What types of business broadband are available?

ADSL

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) broadband is delivered to your business via a phone line using the Openreach network (this used to be part of BT).  

ADSL is the most common type of broadband, usually the cheapest, and could be enough for a small business. Pretty much every business will be able to get ADSL broadband installed.  

Cable

Cable (Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial) broadband offers faster speeds than ADSL broadband, and is usually more expensive. Virgin Media is the only national cable broadband company in the UK, but there are small local cable companies too.

Fibre optic

Fibre optic broadband is usually faster than both ADSL and cable. It has the potential for much higher speeds, so usually costs more. The speed you get depends on the type of connection you have.  

With fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) connections, the fibre optic cables end at the street cabinet, with a normal phone line used to connect your business. Fibre to the premises (FTTP) offers faster speeds as the fibre optic cables run all the way to your business premises.  

Leased line

Leased line broadband offers a dedicated broadband line for your business, which means you are not sharing a connection with anyone else.  

A leased line might be best if your business needs to transfer large amounts of data all the time or run a big website. Leased line broadband is the most expensive option.  

Which providers offer business broadband?

Most of the home broadband providers such as BT, Virgin Media, Vodafone, Sky, O2, TalkTalk and Plusnet, all offer business broadband.  But there are other business broadband providers you might not have heard of too. These include bOnline, Hyperoptic, and XLN.  

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Do I need business broadband if I work from home?

If you are a sole trader working from home, a business broadband package is probably not necessary.  

A decent home broadband deal can provide the same speed as a basic business package. The main exception is if you would benefit from the extra features, such as a service level agreement or web hosting, offered by business broadband.  

What should I look for when comparing business broadband deals?

When comparing business broadband deals you should look at the following:

Availability

Which business broadband deals you’ll be eligible for depends on where your business is located. Most areas will be able to get an ADSL connection, but cable, fibre optic and leased line deals might not be available everywhere.  

An online broadband postcode checker will show you the deals available in your area.

Set-up costs and monthly costs

Some business broadband deals include free set-up, while others have an initial cost. Then all come with a cost to be paid monthly.

Whereas home broadband prices are quoted including VAT, business broadband deals are quoted excluding VAT.

Data limits

Most business broadband is unlimited, and any limited deals on offer are generally not worth it. But even on unlimited deals you should watch out for “restrictions apply” or “fair usage applies” as this means there’s a traffic management policy in place.

Contract length

Business broadband contracts usually vary from 12 months to 36 months. Some deals have an introductory offer where you pay a cheaper monthly fee for a number of months.  

In some cases the cost can jump significantly at the end of your contract – for example, Hyperoptic’s Hyperfast deal is hiked up to £300 a month after two years.

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