Procurement 18 August 2015

Business broadband: The options out there and how to improve connectivity in rural locations

They may be scenic but rural places can be particularly hard to reach  meaning businesses struggle with  broadband options
They may be scenic, but rural places can be particularly hard to reach meaning businesses struggle with broadband options
Matt Powell of broadband comparison website BroadbandGenie.co.uk provides a guide to what’s available for micro businesses when it comes to broadband including how to improve your options if you’re based in a remote area.

Modern business is heavily reliant on the internet. But as the demands we place on our connections increases it’s important to ensure you’ve got a broadband connection that’s up to the job. The good news is that there are many options for business broadband at prices that make it affordable for sole traders and home workers.

How to choose a business broadband package

What’s on offer Broadband coverage varies across the UK so your first step to getting the ideal business broadband connection is to check what services are available in your area.

There’s a few ways to do this. Any ISP will be able to tell you if they can supply a service, though if you’ve not yet decided on a provider that doesnt give you the whole picture.

At Broadband Genie we have a postcode check tool which can quickly provide an overview of possible broadband options based on your location. And for a more detailed look the broadband tools at SamKnows.com will give a comprehensive breakdown of the types of connections at any exchange in the country.

Download and upload speeds

When it comes to download speeds youll be limited to a maximum 17Mb for an ADSL service, 76Mb for a BT Openreach fibre connection or 152Mb for Virgin Media cable. In some areas there’s also the choice of next-gen Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) providing an incredible 1Gb.

Depending on the size of your business you may find that up to 17Mb is perfectly sufficient, but if you add in the demands of a few staff members on top of whatever your business needs this older standard could become quickly overwhelmed.

Upload speed is very important too and it’s here the more advanced technology may be a necessity. ADSL services are limited when it comes to upload – usually a maximum of 1Mb for a single line – and if you need to send large amounts of data on a regular basis you may find this to be excessively sluggish. Fibre optic or cable is much better, usually managing 10-20Mb.

Support

Support and customer services are a major cause of complaint for home broadband, and when it comes to business this is a critical area as downtime could mean financial losses.

Before signing up with a provider check what kind of support they offer business customers. This is particularly important if you expect 24-hour help or may have more specialist support requirements.

Do you need specialist business broadband?

Many business broadband packages are using the same technology as a home broadband service, with certain aspects geared toward business users. But there are also different types of broadband technology which are intended exclusively for businesses and come with more advanced features and support.

Leased lines provide a guaranteed speed and service uptime and great deal more flexibility than regular connections. They be customised to focus on a particular task such as VOIP calling or uploading, and will come with a service level agreement where lengthy downtime may be compensated.

The cost of a leased line service can be very high so it’s definitely not for every business, but if your connection is mission critical the reliability and performance may be worth paying for.

More affordable are alternative ADSL services. Bonded ADSL combines multiple lines in one to give the impression of a single fast connection. Another variant of ADSL is Annex-M, where upload speed can be increased by reducing the download rate.

These types of services do not tend to come with an SLA, but you can expect a higher level of support. And because it is using ADSL they can be helpful for premises that are not yet covered by fibre optic or cable broadband.

Options for rural business broadband

Rural businesses may find that their choices are very limited. Although ADSL should be available to most it may be limited to a maximum 8Mb, and actual performance could be very low if you’re far from the exchange.

This can be a serious problem for organisations in remote areas, and upgrades could be years away.

But there are some solutions available right now to improve connectivity in rural locations.


 
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