The need for a fast, reliable business internet connection for Businesses these days is must – to do everything from sending email to managing your eCommerce website.
And with the increased use of cloud computing – computing services accessed online – means your business may be more dependent than ever on a fast internet connection.
Types of broadband internet
Numerous internet service providers (ISPs) offer a range of connection options. Here we explain the most common types:
1. Fibre broadband
Fast and more reliable than the traditional copper wires, fibre broadband is available in two types:
Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) – A fibre cable runs from the local telephone exchange to a green cabinet on your street. Your business premises are connected to this cabinet by a standard copper telephone line. In the UK, many providers offer FTTC services.
Fibre to the premises (FTTP) – The fibre cable comes right into your office or building. As fibre cables are capable of faster connections than copper, FTTP connections tend to offer higher speeds. In the UK, although it’s also available from some other companies, Virgin Media is the main provider of FTTP.
Whilst efforts are being made to increase the coverage offered by Fibre, you may need to check as Fibre isn’t available in all parts of the UK. Fibre is worth considering if it is an option in your area and it is likely to become the standard for businesses in areas where coverage is available.
2. ADSL broadband
ADSL is provided via a standard copper telephone line which connects your business premises to the local telephone exchange.
Connection speeds vary considerably on ADSL and is dependent on the distance between you and the local telephone exchange.
Whilst adequate for many companies with fewer than 20 employees and offering reasonable value, many businesses opt for Fibre over ADSL, since fibre typically only costs £5-£10 more each month.
Choosing a broadband internet connection
As you investigate your connection options, you’ll find that business ISP services can differ considerably. Answering these questions will help you identify the best:
Speed – If many people will be sharing it you will need a fast internet connection. Speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbps). ADSL is typically 8Mbps whereas some fibre connections offer speeds in excess of 150Mbps.
Bandwidth – Most broadband internet connections let you download (receive) information faster than you can upload (send) it. If you regulalry upload large files (cloud computing services require decent upload speeds) you will need to ensure you have a fast upload speed too. Notably, cheaper packages tend to limit how much data you can transfer each month.
Usage – If you intend to host your business website on a server within on your own premises or manage your own email server, you will need to check with your business ISP to ensure they supports this.
Be wary of your business ISP’s small print – connection speeds can vary depending on the distance between your premises and the local telephone exchange – yet many ISPs only quote the best case speed.
Business ISPs often offer optional extras, such as email addresses or inclusive telephone calls. Whilst this can seem like a cost saving, consider carefully relying on one provider. If one business ISP supplies your telephone and internet connection, a problem with the ISPs systems could severly hamper your business communications.
For those with critical requirements or if you are a larger company, you may need a guranteed connection.
If this is the case you should consider a leased line – a dedicated internet connection which provides very high speeds and one on which your business can depend upon under all circumstances.
However, leased lines are expensive, for example, BT’s leased line charges start from around £195 a month or more. Leased lines also require specialist knowledge to install, configure and manage. However, many leased line suppliers can provide instalation and managed services.
Hardware and security
In nearly all cases, additional hardware will be required to connect to the internet. Most business ISPs will supply a router for free which connects to your phone line, allowing you to effectively share the line between your internet connection and phone services.
Make sure to take appropriate security precautions to protect your business from online threats.
Lastly, consider the management overhead the internet can create. Make sure your employees understand what they are and aren’t allowed to use the internet connection for, and ensure that this is documented in your businesses IT policy and ideally, is incorporated into the hiring and onboarding process for all employees.