As your business grows and develops, it’s natural that your phone and broadband requirements are likely to change. Coupled with the evolving nature of the workplace, multiple locations, increased security threats and flexible working patterns, choosing the right solution can be confusing. Here are some tips for deciding on the best phone and broadband solution for your business.
Broadband packages for business are much faster than home broadband solutions and also provide greater choice; you can opt for either ADSL or fibre and can even choose a leased line. It can be tempting to opt for the highest speeds available, with some providers offering up to 500Mbps, but it is worth being mindful that coverage may be limited. As a rough guideline, most business broadband plans will offer between 20Mbps to 80Mbps. If your business requirement is for much faster upload and download speeds, it would be sensible to move away from fibre broadband and explore a leased line instead. Leased lines are symmetrical, and this means that you are able to gain upload and download speeds of up to 1Gbps.
Dynamic or Static IP
You are likely to be familiar with dynamic IP addresses as these form the basis of home broadband services. A dynamic IP address changes frequently, meaning that you are not assigned a specific IP address. While this solution is fine for smaller, simple business operations, those which are more complex or have specific needs may find that a fixed IP address becomes a necessity. Such requirements include running CCTV systems, servers for websites, email management or the need to access a desktop remotely.
There are some disadvantages to static IP addresses though, most notably, the increased security risk from cyberattacks. Because the IP address remains constant, it is much easier to track the computer which is linked to it, making it a prime target for hackers. It is also more difficult to change a static IP address once it has been assigned. For most businesses, the pros of switching to a fixed IP address outweigh the cons, it will just require more emphasis on IT security and protection.
Having a business continuity plan in place is essential for managing the unexpected, and this includes what to do in the event of an IT failure. Ensuring that you opt for a phone and broadband provider with a good track record of customer service is essential, so that you can rest assured that help with be on hand if you need it.
If your business requires a certain level of response or you need to place a limit on downtime periods, it is worth considering implementing an SLA (Service Level Agreement) with your chosen provider. This will ensure that you are able to maintain a connection even if there is a fault with their broadband. A smart move would be to opt for a package which offers 4G as an automatic back up, giving you continued coverage in the event of complete broadband failure.
>See also: Rural broadband: how to improve your speed
Now that you have a better understanding of what to look for, the next step is to consider how your business type may affect your decision.
A small home-based business is likely to need a stable internet connection, particularly if conference calls are a frequent occurrence. If usage is fairly low and limited to browsing and emailing, then an ADSL line is likely to be sufficient. For more frequent conference calling or if there are multiple devices used in the household, a fibre optic solution will provide a faster, more stable connection.
For small retailers, salons and shops who are only using the internet to process card transactions and send emails, an ADSL line is likely to be the most cost-effective option. If music is likely to be streamed into the shop, it is worth opting for unlimited downloads to avoid any additional charges.
>Cafe and restaurant
For cafes and restaurants, fibre optic broadband with unlimited downloads is a must have to ensure customers can enjoy hassle-free usage of the WiFi; this is now an essential selling-point as many more freelancers and remote employees opt to work from coffee shops and similar venues. This will ensure multiple people can use the internet at any time, providing both customers and staff with a reliable and fit for purpose solution.
Small offices would also be wise to opt for fibre optic broadband with unlimited downloads and for those with multiple employees, additional phone lines and a static IP address. Where growth is expected, it is also important to opt for solutions which can easily be scaled up and down as business dictates.
Larger offices are likely to need a leased line or ethernet solution to help service the needs of multiple users, maintain a high-speed service and support remote servers, conference calls and other essential business functions.
Obtain several quotes
In summary, while there are a variety of different business phone and broadband on offer, understanding your business and your usage needs will help to cut through the clutter and identify the best solutions for your individual requirements. Remember to obtain several quotes from different providers before deciding and reach out to your networks to see if others have had positive or negative experiences with your preferred providers prior to signing on the dotted line.
Nathan Hill-Haimes is founder of Amvia, a privately-owned, voice, data and cloud application provider based in Sheffield, which supplies services to companies of all sizes.