Looking to get a business internet connection or upgrade your existing line? Business internet or a dedicated internet line? Copper or fibre? So many internet providers to choose from. A world of jargon.

Read this first. We are breaking down the most important aspects of business broadband in order to help you make a more informed decision. Understand what aspects of your internet plan will have a real qualitative effect on your operations and which will just inflate your monthly overheads.

What is your internet usage?

Remote operations have come to the fore since the first days of the COVID-19 lockdown. Businesses that could traditionally get away with relatively basic business internet have found their requirements have skyrocketed because of VPNs, multiple remote devices and increasing reliance on cloud services. But that does not mean you need to break your budget and opt for a gigabit fibre connection just yet.

Begin by asking how many workstations require internet? Is your business heavily internet reliant? What are some typical internet use cases? Can your network make the best use of greater bandwidth? What are the specific challenges you are facing with your internet connection/internet provider?

Clear answers for each of these will stand you in good stead to identify desirable features for a new/upgraded internet connection.

What you should look for in a new/upgraded business internet connection

1. Cost

Business internet plans start at $100 per month for basic business broadband. But they are sufficient only for up to five people browsing the internet, sending emails and making the occasional video call. Costs will rise if you require greater bandwidth for a larger team, require a static IP address or have multiple locations. For larger organizations a dedicated line and fibre may offer a better financial proposition.

2. Bandwidth

The bandwidth (or ‘speed’) you need depends on many factors: the number of users, applications, cloud services, VPN setup, web hosting and more. Many businesses have seen an increase in bandwidth requirement as employees use VPNs to connect to office workstations/servers. Video conferencing takes up substantial bandwidth, too, as does hosting ecommerce, CRM and sales tools, and content on servers. Regardless of the amount of bandwidth you need, ensure a sufficient overhead for spikes in internet usage.

3. Guaranteed bandwidth

Think you receive the bandwidth you pay for all the time? Think again. Business broadband is offered on the basis of a theoretical maximum speed the client can receive. Internet speed can vary throughout the day; though you will not notice unless your business performs speed-critical tasks. ‘Guaranteed bandwidth’ guarantees the speed listed in the contract.

4. Charges/Pricing structure

Beware of data caps, workstation restrictions, peak pricing and support token limits. Business internet providers may also require customers to rent proprietary modems, which can substantially increase the monthly bill. Make sure you are able to predict your internet charges based on average monthly usage.

Most business internet providers require multi-year contracts if businesses approach them directly. If you go through a managed it services provider you can get more favourable terms and pricing.

5. Should you get a gigabit business broadband connection?

Gigabit and 10 gigabit business broadband connections are all the rage right now, but do you need one? These connections are suitable for mid-size offices and content creators that need to transfer vast amounts of data. Gigabit and 10 gigabit connections require fibre optic cables and specialized modems. Moreover, the business network must be able to make use of the bandwidth allotted too. For most businesses, today, a gigabit connection is not a necessity.

6. Do you need a fibre connection?

Fibre lines offer enormous bandwidth but come at a high cost. Whether you need a fibre line depends on your workload and bandwidth requirements. Check if fibre is available in your area. If so, do you have permission to route cables through the building?

Though the initial costs of fibre adoption can be relatively high, it can future-proof the business. The additional bandwidth is great for cloud services, multiple users and guaranteed speeds.

7. Customer support

Many business owners take tech support for granted only to realize their plan does not cover the kind of troubleshooting they need. Take the time to understand how the business internet provider will respond to configuration issues, DDoS attacks and internet downtime. Is there provision for a backup line in the event of a failure? What is the reputation of the business in terms of tech support? Is there a guaranteed timeframe for onsite support? Does the provider monitor the line 24/7?

There are many aspects to think about when you are choosing your business internet plan. That’s where a managed IT services provider like TAG can help. Our goal is to offer flexible, scalable internet solutions that help your business perform better. We identify cost-effective options that meet your demands, plan reserve capacity and prepare contingencies in case of spikes in demand. A team of IT experts ensures minimum downtime and a fully optimized network.