Small companies, particularly those operating out of a domestic residence or basic office space, may find it tough to choose between residential and business broadband.
Making a choice can be especially tricky if you lack an understanding of what differences separate the two types of services, since you might be enticed by a bargain-basement package that is not necessarily suitable for use in a business environment.
There are of course a variety of elements which separate business broadband from residential broadband, so here is a rundown to help guide you towards the most appropriate type of service.
Connection speed is incredibly important, particularly if your business is going to be carrying out data-intensive tasks over the broadband connection. This can include A/V conferencing, server hosting and a variety of other high-end features that require fast, consistent internet access.
With a domestic broadband package you will typically be lumbered with a relatively high connection ratio, which means that lots of other homes are sharing the same kit and bandwidth at your local telephone exchange.
The result is that real-world speeds often fail to live up to the advertised maximums and during peak periods the connection can slow to a crawl as everyone attempts to get online at the same time.
With a business broadband service you should find that your connection ratio is much lower, which means there is more bandwidth to go around and speeds can become faster and more consistent.
The cheapest residential broadband will usually come with a fixed amount of data allowance each month, with costs incurred if this is exceeded. There are also packages described as 'unlimited', although there is typically a fair use policy that does put some restrictions in place.
With a good business broadband bundle you can enjoy truly unlimited levels of service. Of course, if you do want to save money and believe that one of the capped packages will be suitable, there are enterprise-oriented options available, so there is a good deal of flexibility on offer.
You might find that home broadband is offered along with some basic inclusions or optional extras, most of which are dictated by the cost of the bundle.
With business broadband, this is taken to the next level, since you can invest in high-end security for your connection to keep your mission-critical data free from harm, while also adding services such as VoIP if you want to completely digitise your communications.
Business broadband bundles will give you the ability to pick a static IP address for your company, rather than rely on a dynamic IP that is typically assigned to residential customers. This makes it easy to set up an on-site server that can then be accessed remotely and used to store data or even host a website for your business.
Customer service for residential broadband can be fine as long as you are not expecting particularly responsive after-sales care. If a fault occurs you can talk to a call centre worker who will read from a script and try to fix it.
With business broadband, support packages are much more impressive, since even the shortest periods of downtime can be hugely damaging to companies that rely on web access to function normally.
There are different tiers of support available from most business broadband providers, so you only need pay for the level that you require.
Most businesses, no matter how small, would be better off with a broadband service that is aimed at living up to their expectations. In many cases, residential broadband is just not going to fit the mould.
The author, Jamie Garner, recommends Daisy Group for business broadband.