Five things to look for in a business broadband provider

Five things to look for in a business broadband provider

Neill Hughes, Head of Direct New Business and Small Business Service

Neill Hughes, Head of Direct New Business and Small Business Service

High-quality broadband is now a must for any successful small business. Without it, it is much harder to connect with customers, make arrangements with suppliers and even perform essential activities such as financial reporting.

There's a range of options out there for small and medium-sized companies, so we've laid out the questions small businesses should ask potential broadband providers, and key factors to take into consideration, before committing to a contract.

Speed

Having a fast connection is crucial, and for most businesses, an old-fashioned copper ADSL line simply isn't going to cut it. While many providers make claims about their lightning-fast speeds, choosing the right service isn't always about going for the option with the biggest headline numbers.

For instance, you'll need to consider upload speeds as well as download speeds, particularly if you're going to be sending large files or relying on services such as cloud storage. There are also a number of factors that can affect your ability to receive the headline, advertised speeds, such as how far you are from your nearest cabinet and the quality of lines in your area, so be sure to ask potential providers about your particular circumstances.

Static IP

Every device that connects to the internet has a unique IP address that identifies it. Some consumer-grade connections work on a system called dynamic IP, which means the IP address changes every time you connect. But for many businesses, this won't be an adequate solution, especially if they have plans for expansion in the future.

Having a static IP address - one that's constant and reserved only for you - is hugely important to businesses as they grow. If you want to host your own website rather than have an external provider do this for you, for instance, a static IP is a must. The same is true if you want to host an email server, access your business PC remotely, or set up a CCTV system.

Reliability and support

The fast-paced nature of the business world means you need to be able to get online at all times. Any outages or downtime could cost you significant amounts of money, particularly if you rely on connectivity for key activities. Therefore, you need to ask potential providers what processes they have in place to ensure reliability, and what obligations they offer when it comes to uptime.

As well as looking for services with high reliability, you need to ask what services each provider offers if something does go wrong, whether it's with their network or with your own equipment.

For instance, not all business broadband providers operate out of hours support for small firms. These days, business operations aren't restricted to the traditional nine-to-five, and if something goes wrong with your network on an evening or weekend, you'll need the peace of mind that comes with being able to get timely help.

Security

Even the smallest businesses are vulnerable to data breaches - in fact, they are just as likely to be attacked as their larger counterparts, and suffer proportionally more harm from an actual breach.

Business broadband packages typically come with a much more comprehensive set of measures to defend against this than consumer ones, so if you're still getting by on a home broadband deal, this may be a key factor to consider. Make a note of the protections included in the base price and as some, such as advanced monitoring services, may require an additional subscription.

You can read our cyber security summary infographic, or view more information about the range of broadband packages available from TalkTalk Business.

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