Reliable business broadband needn’t be as expensive as you might think. You can get your company online without it costing the earth.
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Think about what you will need from your business broadband package before signing up; do you want a package that includes free domain names so you can set up your own website? Do you need to send large files securely over the internet? Do you need a number of individual email addresses?
These are all questions you should ask yourself when choosing broadband for your business.
Email addresses and web space
As well as offering free email addresses for your company, many business broadband packages will include dedicated website domains. For example, Plusnet (www.Plus.net) include up to two free .co.uk addresses with some of its business broadband packages so you can have a professional address from which to run your business's website.
Spam filtering, email virus protection and our Broadband Firewall come as standard with Plusnet business broadband packages, to help guard your system and vital data.
All of Plusnet's business packages support simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) - which most email services use to send mail over the internet - and include webmail and an unlimited number of email addresses and mailboxes. A fax-to-email facility that allows you to ditch the fax machine and simply receive faxes direct to your inbox is also included.
Eclipse (www.Eclipse.net.uk)is an award winning provider specialising in providing small businesses with broadband. All of Eclipse's business broadband packages come with as many free static IP addresses as you need and a free domain for your website. It's non-fibre business packages also give you a performance optimisation tool - enabling you to prioritise your connection for email, web browsing, filesharing or other online activities.
An IP, or internet protocol, address is a unique set of numbers that identifies each computer connected to the internet. The majority of home broadband connections have dynamic IP addresses meaning they are refreshed each time the internet is accessed. Business broadband packages usually come with static IP addresses, which means the connection keeps the same address, making it easier for your computer to be identified and located.
You need a static IP address if you want to run your own business website, send and receive emails using an address that includes your websites name, allows you to connect to your PC from wherever you are, securely send large files to partners and clients, and eliminates the risk of downtime each time a dynamic IP address refreshes.
Priority network access
You might think that, because your home broadband connection offers speeds and a usage allowance comparable to some business packages, you don't need a dedicated business connection. However, many business broadband packages offer priority network access, meaning traffic from these connections is given priority over residential internet traffic.
Priority network access basically means your business's web traffic will take precedence over that of home users on the same network, which can make a significant difference to the service you receive, how your site runs and your customers' user experience, especially during peak hours.
Lower contention rates
Standard residential broadband packages have contention rates of 50:1. This means that up to 49 other people can be sharing the same line as you and their activity will affect the speed of your connection. This is sometimes expressed in terms of throughput speed - the traffic speed you experience from your service. Business broadband packages often offer lower contention ratios of 20:1, or even 1:1 when it comes to leased lines, but the lower the contention ratio the more it will cost you.
Priority customer support
Because businesses are likely to lose money if they aren't able to get online, most business broadband packages come with, or can be upgraded to include priority customer support. This means that the provider will either have a dedicated business support team, or it will put business calls and problems before those of other users. Plusnet's 'Enhanced Care' is a chargable support service available on all of its business broadband packages, which offers business customers prioritised support on reported faults and a higher level of service. Plusnet has a target of responding to faults within 1 hour and resolving faults within 24 hours (Monday-Friday 8am-8pm).
High or unlimited download allowances
Your employees emailing and browsing the web, uploading content to your business's website and transferring large files to partners and clients would use up the download allowance of an average home broadband package pretty quickly. While unlimited broadband business packages are still often subject to a fair usage policy and traffic management, providers know that business users tend to use the internet more intensively and will accommodate that. This means you're less likely to end up with a warning from your provider to curb your usage or be charged extra for excessive downloading with a dedicated business broadband package.
If you upload a lot of content to your businesses website, or frequently send large files or back-up a lot of data via the internet, it could well be worth your while shopping for a business broadband package that offers faster upload speeds than the average broadband package. If your business uploads a particularly large amount to the internet, you might even want to look at a SDSL - symmetric broadband that offers matching upload and download speeds.
All businesses using the internet need to make sure they take the necessary steps to protect themselves online. Security software is imperative in order to protect sensitive information and to ensure your network doesn't get infected by a virus or malware. Almost every business broadband package will offer you the kind of protection you need; many providers now offer software from reputable internet security companies to guard your business against phishing emails, as well as keeping you safe from viruses and malware online.
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