How Much Broadband Does Your Company Need?

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One inescapable fact of business life is that your broadband needs will increase as your company grows. Even year-on-year, your needs and broadband spending increase.

Broadband is an inescapable running cost of doing business online. It’s like taxes, there is no escape. However, unlike dealing with HMRC, you do have choices: You can choose your provider, or to pay more for a better service.

Mobile Broadband

We all know that ‘unlimited’ in the context of broadband and data transfer has been rendered meaningless by well-hidden ‘fair usage’ clauses in our contracts.

Speed and network coverage are the most important factors driving your mobile broadband decision.

You and your salespeople will need access to your company’s data apps and they need to do that using your company mobile data plan rather than over an insecure Wifi network, especially with the absolute requirement to protect customer data post-GDPR. 

Discuss your needs with your two preferred networks to see which offers you the better deal.

Office Broadband

You have a range of options for office broadband, from using a basic domestic connection, to a leased line that can handle hundreds of times more data. Different technologies are used, including fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), 4G, satellite, and a leased line.

You have five options in decreasing order of usability:

1. Leased Line

A leased line is the best way to connect your business operations to the Web. The investment is high, though there are grants of £2,500 available from the UK government, with an extra £3,000 available from the Welsh Government. 

The leased line cost is worth it because the line is all yours; no sharing it with neighbouring businesses, no slow-down at peak time, no glitch-filled video calls. Every leased line is a fibre-optic cable connection laid directly to your premises. In terms of speed and power, it is like having an aircraft carrier with the speed of a jet fighter: You have massive data capacity and your data transfers (upload and download) are virtually instant.

When you need commercial office space to accommodate your increasing number of employees, a leased line is your only realistic option. It is the only way you can keep everyone online at the same time, prevent frustration, and keep everyone working.

2. Business Fibre Broadband

Your ISP may offer you a business deal. This will have a lower contention ration, but the line will still be a shared one with all the attendant frustrations when other users are online. It might work out better for a while, but you are going to reach its limits pretty quickly. This article includes useful information on business broadband packages in the UK.

3. 4G Broadband

4G is a last resort if you cannot get a leased line or other physical connection. It is expensive, has low data limits, and is unreliable. Average download speeds of 33Mb/sec sound good compared to the UK government’s definition of superfast broadband (24Mb/sec), but it still isn’t fast enough for a connected business to operate.

4. Domestic Broadband

When you are still working from your garage or spare bedroom, your home broadband connection will suffice. However, domestic broadband is frustrating when everything stops working at 9am when every other company comes online, or at 3.30pm when school students get home. A domestic connection costs less than a business one because your line is shared between fifty homes. ISPs never talk about this high contention ratio, which was used to allow a faster initial broadband rollout twenty years ago, but it is the main cause of slow internet connections today.

Sharing your line between fifty households might have worked in 1999, but it makes for an unreliable and slow connection in 2019.

5. Not a Real Option - Satellite Broadband

Forget satellite broadband. Your data limits will prevent you from even downloading images in emails, and forget VOIP or video. The cost is totally unrealistic for the low speed, high latency (lag) and low data limits. If satellite is your only option, then locate your business somewhere else.

In Summary

When your business is just you, your broadband needs are limited and your home broadband connection will do the job, most of the time. 

Once your operations grow, your data needs will need a better connection, possibly a business broadband or 4G deal. Once you grow to the stage where you are renting offices, you will need a leased line, otherwise, your employees are going to spend a lot of time thumb-twiddling.