The days when an internet connection was optional for businesses are gone. It is now more important than ever to have access to fast, reliable internet to do everything for your business. From hopping on the morning zoom call to managing your website, it is important that your workplace is connected 24/7. What’s more, increased use of cloud computing – services stored and accessed online – means that your business may be even more dependent on a fast connection. As one of the leading managed service providers in London we specialise in delivering high quality broadband internet connection for all types of business.
Types of broadband internet connection
There are lots of internet service providers (ISPs) offering a range of internet connection options. The most common are:
1. Fibre broadband
With fibre, your broadband connection is supplied via a fibre optic cable. Fibre optic cables are faster and more reliable than the copper wires used to deliver other types of broadband, like ADSL.
There are two types of fibre connection:
- Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC). With this type of connection, a fibre cable runs from your local telephone exchange to a green cabinet on your street. Your premises are connected to this cabinet by a standard copper telephone line.
- Fibre to the premises (FTTP). Also known as ‘full fibre’. With this type of connection, the fibre cable comes right into your office or building. Because fibre cables allow for faster connections than copper, FTTP connections generally offer higher speeds.
In London, many providers offer FTTC services, however it is considered outdated by some due to the interception of the roadside cabinet. In contrast, FTTP is often named a ‘true’ fibre optic connection as its cables run direct to your building, providing faster internet connection.
Currently, BT and Virgin Media are the two main providers of FTTP. In recent years, fibre optic cable installations have rapidly increased as it they prove most efficient for homes and offices. As of January 2023, fibre broadband connectivity is up to 50% in London, becoming the accessible alternative to ADSL. So, if it is an option in your area, fibre is almost certainly worth considering. With that in mind, fibre broadband may already be the standard for businesses in areas with coverage in London.
2. ADSL broadband
ADSL broadband (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) is supplied down the copper telephone line that connects your business premises to the local telephone exchange. Connection speeds can vary considerably with ADSL, depending on how far you are from the local telephone exchange.
ADSL is adequate for many companies with fewer than 20 employees and offers reasonable value. Depending on your area, installation may also be much simpler due to the availability of copper wires. However, given that fibre often only costs £5-£10 more each month, it’s probably the better choice.
Arguably, ADSL broadband and FTTC are now being phased out as the norm for businesses and homes, with full fibre taking over in some urban areas. BT’s ‘Stop Sell’ means that areas with over 75% of access to full fibre will prevent ADSL and FTTC from being sold to homes and businesses. This could soon affect certain areas of London where full fibre is slowly dominating.
Choosing your broadband internet connection
As you investigate your connection options, you’ll find that business ISPs can differ considerably in their packages. Consider these questions in your search:
· What speed do you need?
You’ll need a fast internet connection if there are many employees in an office. Speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbps). For example, an ADSL connection runs between 8-11Mbps, but fibre connections can offer speeds of 150Mbps up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps).
· Do you need to upload large files?
Most internet connections allow you to download (receive) information faster than you can upload (send) it. If you frequently upload large files, you’ll need a fast upload speed. Many cloud computing services also require decent upload speeds. Average download speeds sit at approximately 69.4Mbps, whereas upload speeds are 15.5Mbps.
· Will you be running services from your connection?
If you plan to host your company website on a server within your business or manage your own email server, check if your business ISP supports this.
· Does your business use remote or hybrid working?
If your business has employees who need to access your internet connection remotely, check if your ISP can offer remote access VPNs (Virtual Private Network). This can ensure a protected internet connection for employees who need to use your business’ network.
It is always crucial to read your business ISP’s small print carefully. Notably, connection speeds can vary depending on the distance between your premises and the local telephone exchange – yet many ISPs will only quote the best case speed. Be wary of your budget and how this aligns with your business’ needs, as choosing cheaper packages could limit your services such as monthly data transfers.
Many business ISPs offer optional extras, like email addresses or inclusive telephone calls. While this can save money, be wary of relying on one provider. For instance, if one ISP supplies your telephone and internet connection, a problem could cut you off completely. It may then be helpful to think ahead by looking at your potential ISP’s customer support system and consider varying packages for internet, telephone, etc.
Other business internet connection options
If you’re a larger company or have critical requirements – like access to a connection guaranteed not to fail – you may need to consider a leased line. Also known as a data line, this is a dedicated internet connection which can provide very high speeds for your business to strongly depend on. Leased lines can offer no data restrictions and symmetrical bandwidth, meaning uploads and downloads will have the same speeds.
Leased lines are more expensive than broadband, as they are a private internet connection. BT’s leased line charges start from around £200 a month, but prices can go much higher. Leased lines require specialist knowledge to install and configure, however suppliers are willing to customise the service you receive for your business. They may also offer web hosting and other telecoms services.
In any case, seek advice from an IT expert – like totality services – if you’re not confident deciding what sort of internet connection to choose.
Business internet hardware and security
Your business will probably need additional hardware to connect to the internet. Many business ISPs will supply a router for free with their package. This is used to connect to your phone line, allowing you to share the internet connection.
It is vital to take security precautions to protect your business internet connection from online threats too. Business ISPs can offer anti-virus software to monitor threats, in addition to VPNs as part of their packages. But if a major concern is your business’ data security, leased lines operate a more secure connection. This is due to data not being shared with other users of the network.
Finally, remember that the internet can sometimes create management issues. Make sure your staff understand what they are and aren’t allowed to use the internet connection for. It may be helpful to document this in an IT policy to ensure the internet is being used responsibly.