If you run a small business and required ADSL broadband and want to change your current ISP then here's our guide to the best and cheapest providers.
Almost all business grade internet broadband services offer wireless connection although none offer free stand alone broadband unless you have a phone and broadband deal.
Benefits of Business Broadband
Small business and larger businesses are offered a different service than consumers to connect the internet to your office and generally if you are in a business park then availability is not going to be the issue although prices are higher than consumer broadband packages there are always deals to be had.
In reality if you are a home office user you can still use your home broadband connection and there is no need to change but if you office has many members of staff who are connecting at the same time then a faster connection will be required because of the increased traffic from more users.
If you are a larger business then you'll need dedicated lines connected to the internet and that's where specialised companies come in who can develop the lines for you.
What to Look for
Speed - Generally the home user packages are for speeds at around 2mb although increased packages are available up to 24mb but as with all broadband it depends on where your office is situated compared to the actual location of your nearest exchange and the type of line connecting you. This is the same with business broadband but generally more investment has been made to connect groups of offices to the internet than for home usage. If you are a large business you should look at dedicated lines as these have speeds in excess of 600mb but for small business owners 24mb will be more than sufficient.
Wireless Connection - many providers will offer some form of wireless hub which can cost from £50-£100 if you buy them separately so look for offers and deals where you get a wireless hub included. Almost all laptops come with a wireless card included but desktops do not so you may need to purchase cards for those although most desktops are simply connected directly.
Contention ratios - this simply means the number of people sharing the line with you so a contention ratio of 50:1 means another 49 people share the same connection. Obviously you should look for the lowest ratio offered to provide better overall speeds when you are connected online.
Monthly usages - like home broadband not all business broadband has unlimited usage and some restrictions apply on the cheaper packages. If you already have an account ask your current provider to tell you the volume of traffic use in gb each month so you can search for new providers using that data.
Support - some companies offer 24 hours support from uk call centres where others do not and you'll need direct access to someone who knows what they are doing when your broadband connection goes down. Check to see what type of support is offered and where it is based.
Pricing - most broadband is operating on the BT open network which is resold to other ISPs under their wholesale division so pricing may be similar across the market because the margins are slim. But there are plenty of deals on offer - see the table below.
Recommended Business Broadband Packages
Here's a run down of the most popular small business broadband package on the market that has over 60% market share for small business broadband. The industry is still developing fast so it's best to check the various websites to see what's on offer but this is the one we recommend and is currently the cheapest on the market.
BT Business Broadband
BT offers business broadband on many fronts and there are many options to choose from. Here are the main ones. All packages offer up to 20mb download speeds and a free wireless router. The pricing starts at £12.50 per month excluding VAT for a 24 month contract or £17.50 plus VAT for a 12 month contract.
- Option 1 - 20mb speed - capped 10gb monthly usage - 50 wi-fi minutes per month
- Option 2 - 20mb speed - unlimited use - 250 wi-fi minutes per month
- Option 3 - 20mb speed - unlimited use - 500 wi-fi minutes - wireless dongle
They also offer calls and broadband packages, calls and broadband with blackberry and the final package with mobile broadband. Sometimes it's not worth bundling packages together. With BT they are fully negotiable on all prices so haggle with them hard to get discounts on the monthly fees and free stuff thrown in.
Other small business broadband offers are available but we recommend the BT package.