At work and at home, one ‘proverb’ holds true – you get what you pay for. It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying shoes for the kids, or IT services for the office, if your decision is made purely on the basis of price, you will inevitably end up with a substandard product that delivers far less value than you expect.
And like many “cheap” purchases, the problems do not become apparent until it is too late to reverse the decision. Unfortunately, when it comes to business broadband, a bad buy can have disastrous consequences.
Bargain business broadband
A business broadband service that costs just £20 per month sounds like a steal. With promises of speeds “up to” 17Mbps, it would seem that you have everything needed for a relatively speedy connection, and plenty of bandwidth for your users.
All of these bargain services have one factor in common – they are built using ADSL technology. For many years ADSL has been the only broadband option for consumers and businesses alike – but the roll out of superior fibre optic connections means that ADSL is very much the worst of the two options.
Not only does fibre optic broadband offer superior connection speeds (up to 76Mbps), but the design of ADSL is fundamentally flawed.
When 17Mbps doesn’t mean 17Mbps
Despite the apparent promise of 17Mbps, the sneaky inclusion of the words “up to” on promotional literature and contracts means that your ISP doesn’t actually have to supply that speed. In fact, they can get away with delivering significantly less – and there’s nothing you can do about it.
There is also the small matter of “contention” – the number of other businesses who share your connection at the local exchange. Even if you do manage to get a 17Mbps connection, that bandwidth is shared with other business users at the exchange. It is not uncommon to have 20 businesses sharing the same connection, significantly reducing the amount of available bandwidth for your internet-connected activities.
If one company hogs that bandwidth, the other 19 suffer from poor connectivity as a direct result. For users reliant on dedicated online software like Office 365 or Salesforce, a lack of bandwidth, or slow connection speeds could be disastrous. An inability to access key data and tools in a timely fashion will destroy productivity.
Yet despite being classed as a business broadband connection, there are no service level agreements (SLAs) to guarantee the quality of service you receive. Worse still, there’s not much you can do about the situation either. Once locked into a contract, it’s very difficult to get out again.
Wherever possible you must choose a fibre optic connection – even if it does cost more.
When ADSL is your only option
Some businesses are based in locations where fibre optic broadband is not available - and many immediately (incorrectly) assume that ADSL is their only choice.
There is however one other option – an internet leased line. These connections are much more expensive (~£200 per month), but they offer significant benefits over ADSL.
First, the speed quoted is guaranteed - if you pay for a 20Mbps connection, you receive 20Mbps speeds. Unlike ADSL, the same speed is available for data leaving your office too – so sending files and the like becomes quicker too.
Second, a leased line is yours – you don’t share any of your bandwidth with anyone else. Every last bit of that 20Mbps connection is yours to do with as you please, so you won’t ever experience bottlenecks caused by another user.
Finally, if the quality of service drops, or your connection goes off completely, you have a number of guarantees to fall back on. Every leased line contract is backed by a number of SLAs that tell you when service will be restored, and what compensation you can expect for breaches of those promises.
Leased lines – the only viable fibre alternative
In the event that your business cannot get fibre broadband, a leased line is actually the only sensible option. Choosing ADSL just because it is cheaper will quickly prove to be a false economy.
The additional cost of a leased line will guarantee your business the bandwidth you need to stay productive. And you will also be able to take full advantage of internet-enabled systems like Google Apps and Xero Accounting that save you even more money in the long term.
As your team becomes more productive, the efficiencies gained will help to offset the cost of a leased line. You will also see for yourself how £200 per month is much better value than £20.
To learn more about your internet connectivity options and how to get the best for your business, please get in touch.