Internet options for small business

Internet options for small business

When choosing the right internet for your business think about:

  • How many people will be using the connection, because this affects if you really need fibre or not.
  • Avoid cheap 'bundled' packages which combine energy/phone/water, you're almost always being ripped off by a broker
  • Choose technically competent providers. If your connection goes down, avoiding brokers (as above) will mean you get support from technical people and not sales staff.
  • If you're a small business there's no harm in starting with ADSL and then upgrading to Fibre, and you may benefit from shorter contracts

Choose reliability over price

Especially in the service industry, customers come to you if you have decent internet. People expect it.

We've known cafe visitors turn away from entering a cafe because there's no WiFi. Choose a reliable supplier- Try calling their support line before you buy, how fast do they answer?

Especially if you are a business which attracts students or business professionals who need the internet you should focus on support and reliability.

Email or call their support line to test the wait time, it costs you nothing. Get an idea of how fast they can deal with your support request. Don't be fooled: Sales lines are always answered quickly, it's the aftercare that matters.

How to decide between all the internet provider options

If you're looking for reliable and quality internet for your business, avoid all-in-one "deals" with energy and phone rolled into one. These tend to be sold by brokers earning commission on a sale, with little technical knowledge in-house or care for your support after the sale-they simply pass on your order and pocket the commission. This matters when you need support.

Again, try calling support first, to see what their response time is.

The Internet Options

There are simply two internet options available to most small business.

  1. Standard broadband referred to as ADSL
  2. Fibre which is faster.

If you're just using internet between you and a few office staff for office admin tasks, ADSL is likely perfectly suitable. Unless your small business is involved in media (photography, video production) then uploading and downloading large files probably won't impact your day to day so choosing ADSL might save you between £10 - £20 per month. ADSL contracts almost always have shorter contracts, whereas fibre tends to be 12 months minimum.

Fibre in the UK is generally delivered to the green boxes in the street, and then from that box to a slower copper wire to your business premises. This is called "Fibre to the cabinet" (FTTC). Some properties have faster "Fibre to the premises" (FTTP) which is where a fibre line goes the entire way to your building (much faster) but not available everywhere. We have a free broadband availability checker to find out what you can get, and can arrange an installs if no wire is present.

Who actually runs the network? Who am I buying from

This is an important question to understand if you experience problems with your supplier or connection. A lot of the time problems you experience may be due to the underlying network (wires) which your communication provider has little or no control over. However, your internet provider is still expected to help resolve these issues on your behalf (like a mediator).

Most of the time, you're actually at the mercy of Openreach, who you cannot buy directly from but manage the majority of the UK's broadband network. For instance, your internet provider might seem slow, when actually they're waiting for Openreach to give them information. Why is it like this?

Since 2004, the UK allows communication providers (CPs) to sell access the what was British Telecom's network. In 2004 Ofcom imposed rules to break up BT:

Ofcom determined that BT has significant market power
(“SMP”) in the market for wholesale local access in the UK excluding the Hull Area
and Kingston ... The provision of local loop unbundling
(“LLU”) services is a specific remedy imposed on BT within the wholesale local
access market.

Now you know this, you'll understand there's little point in switching providers if there's a fault on your line. No amount of switching will resolve a dodgy/corroded wire.

I've personally spoken to an ex BT Openreach engineer Geoff Grove about this who manages a network of Ex BT engineers to help people resolve faults on their lines.

What type of business are you?

If you're a small business just using an internet connection for your office admin with less than five people, then ADSL broadband will likely be all you need.

If you're a heavy internet user - or your small business is heavily involved in media (video, photography, or watching/streaming videos then you will need fibre.

Larger businesses will need to consider downtime. How much does being offline cost you? Increasingly your software is "cloud-based" which requires you to be always online. What happens if the connection breaks? Do you have a backup way to get online?

A backup connection?

Some providers offer a backup connection in case you go offline. This might be an entirely separate line (so at least double the cost), or, a backup mobile internet connection which automatically kicks in if you go offline.

What matters here is that you factor in the cost of being offline vs the expense. Risk management. A mobile broadband backup is probably sufficient if you're offline for a short period, but these are expensive if you're offline.

Discuss your internet options

Feel free to give Karma Computing a call to discuss your internet options. We specialise in helping small business get online and can help identify and provide the right internet connection for your business.

Check what internet options you have

Use our free broadband availability checker to find out what's available at your business premises right now. It will tell you if you can already get either ADSL, Fibre (or both) to your business. If you don't have a line to the building yet, we can also help you arrange getting one installed.

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