Tips on searching for business broadband
Dominic Norton, Sales Director
8 March 2022
There shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to business broadband
If you use a broadband service at home, can you remember the selection process you went through before signing up? Probably not, but it might have been on the back of an offer from one of the wellknown providers offering you amazing broadband speed, for example. However, when it comes to choosing broadband for your business, it’s a different kettle of fish entirely – selection criteria differ hugely between residential and commercial. There are myriad choices these days – different speeds, varieties, providers and all promising to be the best with all the usual marketing and hype that comes from competing in such a congested market. The shift in broadband usage towards more real time applications has been especially highlighted by Covid’s impact on our working habits over the last 18 months or so. Ultimately, the outcome or experience of using broadband in the home versus in the office can be wildly different. For example, a Zoom call to friends or family that ends up being patchy or juddery doesn’t signal the end of the world. That same Zoom call to an important client discussing new business could lose you money. Likewise, when watching TV at home via a streaming service it isn’t the end of the world if you suffer a patch of poor-quality service due to buffering. However, the same kind of delay with real time applications in a business setting can cause more significant disruption and impacts on productivity.
Fast speed does not necessarily equate to high performance. Don’t forget, business activities need high performance for applications to run smoothly and effectively especially for real time applications – high speeds don’t guarantee this required execution. It’s easy to get side-tracked by the marketing push on broadband speeds. And so, what is the best speed for your business then? It largely depends on what your business does. Don’t forget, you actually need to consider two speeds, not one. There is upload speed and there is download speed. So, for example, the download speed will have an effect on receiving files such as documents, music or images and upload speed concerns itself with the sending of files. Try and work out the minimum speed you need and start from there – if you are just browsing the internet and using applications locally you probably don’t need particularly fast speeds.
It’s probably true to say that most businesses these days rely on broadband connectivity for their business operations to run smoothly. Therefore, it is important to know how your chosen service provider’s ‘service’ actually performs on a day-to-day basis. This is where a Performance Service Level Agreement (SLA) is paramount – effectively detailing the performance parameters of the service. This will normally refer to the maximum levels of delay or packet loss that can be expected when data is being transmitted over the circuit. A performance SLA should also outline what the business can expect to receive if that provider’s performance service levels don’t meet the minimum stipulations. Think service credits. In fact, these SLAs should be addressed as a priority.
Just as important as Speed and Service is what kind of support is on offer from your chosen provider. What you need to understand here is, how long is the fix time going to be if something goes wrong but also, how readily is the support service available (whether manual or automated). Again, sitting at home with poor or little service whilst you try and enjoy your favourite streaming service is annoying but not catastrophic. If your connection is failing whilst you are trying to host an important zoom meeting or trying to close a big sales deal, then the outcome to the business is more than just a minor inconvenience. This is where a support or service SLA is important. This may refer to a targeted uptime of the service and will include a contractual fix time from when a fault is reported. Again, you should expect to receive service credits if this is breached. So, make sure you know what the fix time would be if your connection does go down and have a plan B for working if the connection does drop out. And what happens if you do need to call the ‘help desk’? Is your support team on the other side of the world or are you dealing with dodgy voice automation and a series of infuriating voice menus? As we have seen, choosing broadband for your business is a different affair to choosing what goes into your home. We can all deal with the relatively minor inconvenience of a Netflix movie going down, but your business can’t afford to be affected by too many failed connections or lousy quality video calls. And remember, it’s not all about speed. Don’t forget about service and support.
As published in