Broadband to make your business number one

It’s easy to think that one business broadband provider is like any other – after all, surely they’re all just supplying a pipe connecting you to the internet? But look a little closer, and you soon see that’s not the case. There are a whole host of broadband providers out there, many of them offering cheap services designed for consumers. And as a small or medium-sized business, your needs are very different to the average residential customer. To avoid getting stuck with a service that doesn’t make the grade, here are some tips for finding a supplier that will help make your business a smash hit.

1. Insist on your broadband provider’s undivided attention

Small and medium sized businesses have very distinct requirements, and it’s important that your broadband provider caters to those. Telcos which supply a lot of residential customers may not offer services that are tailored to you. Choose a provider that focuses on your market, on the other hand, and you’ll get the features and care you need.

2. Demand the red carpet treatment

When you’re trying to run a business, the last thing you need is a service that grinds to a halt at peak times. Look for a provider that prioritises business traffic over its network, so that you get a good Quality of Service at all times, even when the connection is busy. If you need a really high level of performance, you might want to consider an uncontended service, where you don’t have to share the connection with anyone else.

3. Remember all networks are not created equal

The quality of your provider’s network has a direct effect on the performance of your broadband. A next generation, carrier-grade network designed specifically to carry business traffic will provide a much smoother, faster and more reliable service. Some consumer services, on the other hand, are transmitted over older, lower-grade networks which rely on interconnection with other providers’ infrastructure, introducing more potential problem areas and points of failure.

4.Look for a pedigree you can trust

The reputation and financial stability of your supplier is also extremely important. It’s worth considering a company with a strong track record in providing broadband, so you know they’ll keep their promises and your service won’t let you down at a crucial moment. Asking whether your provider offers contract flexibility is a crucial point too. You might want a 12-month contract to see how things pan out, or perhaps you want a longer contract that offers a discount. Either way, you should have the choice.

5. Make sure you can pick and choose

Every organisation has different needs, so it’s important that your supplier offers a range of broadband services to choose from. The features you might want to think about include upstream and downstream speeds, the number of users supported, the service levels, and the added extras on offer.

6. Don’t let anyone cramp your style

Many providers cap their services or apply Fair Usage Policies, which means that if you upload or download a lot of data you could see your service restricted. Services that are genuinely business-grade should be unlimited, so make sure that your provider can offer a product to meet your needs.

7. Seek out the features that are right for you

Broadband isn’t just about speed – you also need additional features to help your business operate smoothly. The best value services offer added extras as part of your broadband package, such as email addresses and IP addresses to help you communicate effectively. Look out for the protection that’s available too, like spam filtering so your email server doesn’t suffer under the weight of unsolicited mail.

8. Ask for service levels in black and white

The level of performance that consumer or residential services offer simply isn’t good enough for business. Your broadband service needs to have written, guaranteed Standards of Service covering its availability and fix times in the event of a fault. The service levels you receive need to be appropriate for your organisation, too. If you’re reliant on your broadband to service customers and make sales, for example, then a 24-hour fix time is going to be damaging to your business. Instead, a four or five-hour fix time is more suitable.

9. Find a broadband provider who’ll be there for you

When you need help, there’s nothing more frustrating than a supplier which doesn’t give you proper support. Make sure that your service includes technical assistance, by telephone as well as email, so that you can have questions answered and faults logged quickly. And when you call, you should be speaking to an expert so you get issues resolved efficiently and promptly.