Finding the right broadband service for your small business

Businesses are encouraged to opt for a dedicated business broadband package by Internet Service Providers. But if you’re a sole trader or you only have a small team do you really have to opt for these higher subscriptions?

16th January 2009 at 8:31 am

Most of the popular broadband providers offer separate services for the business user, albeit at a higher price. The truth is, if you run a small business or are a home worker there’s nothing stopping you kitting yourself up with standard, home broadband. There are no rules to say that if you are a business you must sign up to business broadband. Here are seven tips to help you decide which broadband service is right for you and whether you should consider a dedicated business package.

1. First of all, think about what your business will be using the internet for on a daily basis. Are you a multimedia company, or are you more likely to be sending and downloading Excel spreadsheets? A recent study by Analysys Mason found that most businesses actually have less demand for broadband than the average home user. Rather than using the internet to download demanding multimedia content most businesses simply use the internet for basic web browsing and email. If your small business doesn’t require you to upload or download large amounts of data then business broadband probably isn’t the most cost effective option.

2. If speed is of the essence then dedicated business broadband tends to offer a faster service. At the moment this ranges from anything between 8Mb to 24Mb. However, don’t underestimate the power of home broadband. Virgin Media recently launched its XXL package providing speeds up to 50Mb. Just to give you an idea, it is estimated that with this new broadband service installed you would be able to download around 340 full-length music albums in an hour. Faster broadband always comes at a price though. This particular package will set you back £51 per month and you have to pay for a £80 set-up fee.

3. It goes without saying that you will want to use your broadband service without worrying that your business has exceeded its download limit. Business broadband packages from the likes of BT and Be offer either an ‘Unlimited’ cap or a limit that’s generous enough you shouldn’t find yourself ever being charged for additional data.

4. Sign your small business up to a business broadband package and you will have the extra back-up of 24-hour support. With such importance placed on access to the internet for the smooth running of your business, that’s got to be handy!

5. Business broadband packages tend to come bundled with some attractive extras that really suit those who always need to be in touch with what’s going on – no matter where they are. For example, BT bundles in 500 BT Openzone minutes every month with their cheap BT Business-class Option 1 package for a mere £15 per month. Alternatively, their more expensive Option 3 package (£40.50 a month) comes complete with free mobile broadband.

6. Think carefully about your monthly budget. Business broadband tends to be a little more expensive than home broadband, but there are obviously a few more perks. If you want to test out a business broadband service without committing to a long, two-year subscription Be’s ‘Be Pro’ package only requires you to sign up for 3 months at a time. You will have to fork out for a £24 set-up fee for this privilege though.

7. Don’t forget about mobile broadband. There are several dedicated packages out there for great for small businesses whose employees aren’t always confined to their desks. Mobile broadband gives you the advantage of being able to log on to the internet wherever you are – perfect for that train commute home, or if you’re stuck in a hotel on business. If you want the freedom to be able to log on and download without worry that you’re going to go over your data cap, be warned – unlimited mobile business broadband can set you back up to nearly £100 per month. The perks, however, are priceless.

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Ciaron Dunne is editor of, the independent comparison website for broadband and mobile broadband.

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