A fast reliable broadband connection is essential for most UK businesses, especially if you rely on making video calls, online payments or downloading files. A home broadband connection might not be fast enough or come with the right level of support for your business to rely on. In this article we explain how business broadband works to help you decide if it is something that can help support your business.
What is business broadband?
Business broadband products will suit a range of different business sizes that need an internet service that goes beyond a standard residential home broadband package.
The deal your business gets may be more expensive than your home broadband, but some additional features can prove key to running your business effectively. Extras can include:
- Additional online security
- A 24/7 customer helpline
- Faster speeds
- Additional routers and Wi-Fi extenders
The exact package you are able to access will depend on the provider you choose and the area your business is located in. Some businesses will be limited by the types of broadband supported by the local infrastructure. You can find out more about different types of broadband by reading our article ‘Which broadband is best?’.
Which business broadband providers can I choose from?
Most of the major residential broadband providers also offer business broadband tariffs to suit businesses of any size.
BT business broadband
BT offers deals that will suit almost any business, from small companies with a few employees to larger ones needing to connect hundreds of devices at once. You can also bundle in a phone contract with BT and get access to personalised email addresses.
Sky business broadband
Branded as Sky Connect, this business broadband package features deals that come with a 4G broadband backup, which could be a great way to make sure your business is always online. Sky VIP customers may also be able to get a discount on business broadband through their home broadband deal.
Virgin Media business broadband
Virgin Media offers the fastest home broadband on the market, so it should be no surprise that its business package is also pretty rapid. You should be able to access 24/7 customer support and add an unlimited calls package.
Vodafone business broadband
Like its home broadband deals, Vodafone’s business broadband packages come with discounts for existing Vodafone mobile phone customers as well as cloud storage as an extra add-on.
TalkTalk business broadband
TalkTalk offers flexible business broadband and phone deals along with award-winning customer support, though download speeds of up to 76Mbps may be too slow for some businesses.
bOnline business broadband
A specialist small business broadband provider, bOnline offers speeds of up to 80Mbps and a handy guarantee to beat the price of any rival broadband offer that you receive.
What is a Static IP address?
Your IP (internet protocol) address is a series of numbers that identify the devices connected to a network. Home broadband connections have a dynamic IP address that changes every time you log on, but premium business broadband connections have a static IP address.
This is important because connections with a static IP address can run a server, support a website and create an email address connected to your domain name – all key parts of running an effective business.
A downside of a static IP address is that it is generally considered to be easier to hack, so will require advanced anti-virus software and additional support from your provider to maintain online security.
Technical support for business broadband
As much as it is frustrating for your home broadband to go down, your business losing its internet connection could be catastrophic. That is why most business broadband packages come with an enhanced support service. There is also more work involved in maintaining or repairing business broadband, especially if it requires managing a server or website.
How much support your broadband provider offers will vary, but the details should be listed in your SLA (service level agreement). This document will tell you how much support you will get, the expected engineer response times and when you can access support. Some providers will offer 24-hour support, while others will limit it to 9am-5pm on weekdays.
Many business broadband deals also include anti-virus software and advanced spam filters, as certain businesses may be at an increased risk of hacking compared to home broadband networks. This could be especially important to your business if you have a static IP address and store data on a cloud-based network.
The best business broadband for small businesses
You may be tempted to stick with a home internet package if you run a small business, but many major providers offer business broadband deals that might be a better fit. Faster speeds, a web domain, dedicated email addresses, more reliable Wi-Fi, service guarantees and enhanced technical support will all be useful to businesses of any size.
A small business may even find the extra components of a business broadband package to be more valuable than a large business, especially if it does not have its own IT department. Narrower profit margins may also mean that internet downtime can be more damaging to a small business than a larger one.
What your business does and the support it needs will influence which broadband package you should go for. If you need the internet for browsing and sending emails, it might not be necessary to pay extra for any kind of enhanced package. It might be that the cheapest possible broadband is enough for you to run your business. If you need higher-end features, premium business broadband could be a useful tool.
Do small businesses need business broadband?
A dedicated business broadband connection will suit businesses that rely on the internet to function. You might not think of your business as being dependent on online transactions, but make sure to think through your day-to-day operations to work out exactly what you need from your broadband provider.
Business broadband usually comes with a guaranteed speed, so you should get compensation if your internet drops. You can get a better idea of how broadband speed works by reading our article ‘What broadband speed do I need?’.
You may also find that some IT jobs, like setting up a website or managing a server, are much easier with a business broadband package. Though for individuals working from home as a freelancer or sole trader, your existing home broadband may already meet your needs.
What are the pros and cons of business broadband?
The main advantage of business broadband is that it should be able to cope better than home broadband with peak demand for bandwidth. Most providers also offer a dedicated support team, so it should be easier to get technical help if you run into any problems. The exact benefits will depend on the individual business broadband provider, but we list below some of the key advantages and disadvantages of getting business broadband.
Pros of getting business broadband
- Additional security
- Faster speeds
- Prioritised traffic
- Higher quality hardware (such as routers or Wi-Fi extenders)
- Company email addresses
- Web hosting capabilities
- Cloud storage
- A static IP address
Cons of getting business broadband
- Can be significantly more expensive
- Static IP addresses can be easier to hack when compared to home broadband that uses dynamic IP addresses
Compare business broadband deals
The easiest way to get the best business broadband deal for your company is to compare the packages available online. However, before you start comparing business broadband deals, you need to know what kind of package is going to suit your business.
Start by looking at what your business does online. Do you need to stream content, download large files or make regular video calls? Do you need to upload video or audio files, or send large documents online? If all or some of these tasks are essential to your business, you will likely need a superfast or ultrafast internet connection with additional features to protect your connection or access support in an emergency.
If you are unsure how the different types of internet connection in the UK work, read our article ‘Which broadband is best?’.
For businesses that only rely on light internet usage like browsing or sending emails, there will be more basic broadband packages that you can compare to find the right price. However, if you are growing your business, think about whether your usage may suddenly increase as you expand. It can be a good option to find the best business broadband package you can afford to best meet your company’s future requirements.
You may also be able to tailor a broadband deal to your business’s specific requirements, so make sure to reach out to your chosen provider to see if its packages are flexible.
Business broadband for working from home
Most business broadband companies will provide an internet connection to any address within its network area, so you don’t need to work from an office to get business broadband. Whether you are growing your business from your living room or are a well-established sole trader operating from a home office, if the address is registered to a business, you should be able to get business broadband.
The alternative to business broadband, if you work from home, would be to rely on your home broadband connection. This could work for you if you have a particularly fast broadband connection already and do not value the added extras that come with a business broadband deal. Business broadband is often more expensive than home broadband, so you would need to make sure that the extra cost is worth it to your business.
If you do plan to run a business from home using your home broadband, make sure to check with your provider. Some internet companies will limit how home broadband can be used in its terms and conditions, including whether users can run a business through their home connection.
Business broadband and phone bundles
A good broadband connection is essential to most businesses, but many also rely on doing business over the phone too. Most business broadband providers will offer a landline phone deal – such as free anytime calls – as an added extra. If your business uses a landline regularly, paying extra for a calls package can save you being charged for each call individually, which may end up much more expensive.
Your business may also be able to bundle in a mobile phone contract with your business broadband provider. This can get you a discount on your broadband tariff, as well as mobile extras such as bonus data.