There are comprehensive plans in place from the UK government to invest over £1 billion towards improving broadband throughout the country. The investment aims to provide superfast broadband coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by December 2017. The right broadband has been highlighted as one of the ways to help business growth, and fast, reliable connections are a prerequisite in today’s global business marketplace. This need for investment raises the question: Is the standard of broadband services good enough?
Just last month, Britain’s telecoms regulator Ofcom demanded better broadband services for businesses from BT, insisting the provider must install high-speed business lines more quickly and ‘significantly’ reduce the prices it charges rivals for the lines. Also, Ofcom’s Connected Nations report in December last year found that only 68 per cent of small business properties had access to superfast broadband. There are also several reports that suggest that slow broadband speeds are stunting SME growth.
Clearly these are critical issues that need to be put right. As there are still many small business operators who struggle with all facets of digital connectivity, a big problem when internet access is so vital to businesses of all types in our modern world. It is crucial in such a landscape to get the right broadband deal for your business, and for it to be installed when you need it. A poor internet connection will have a serious detrimental effect on productivity, restrict home and remote workers, hamper international business and prove detrimental to hosted or cloud-based services.
For example, services such as cloud computing, email, VoIP telephony, and VPNs, could be rendered almost useless due to insufficient internet speed. Insufficient internet hits sales hard. For e-commerce sites in particular, web loading times are crucial. Delays of microseconds can potentially cause a significant loss of turnover. Tests at Amazon revealed similar results: every 100 ms increase in load time of Amazon.com decreased sales by 1 per cent (Kohavi and Longbotham 2007). Google discovered that a change in a 10- result page loading in 0.4 seconds to a 30-result page loading in 0.9 seconds decreased traffic and ad revenues by 20 per cent (Linden 2006).
If you’re in the process of setting up a small business or are looking to upgrade your existing broadband then are a few issues to consider before signing up. First, you have to choose the correct broadband for your needs. There are a multitude of different connectivity types available for companies and your provider should be able to make sense of them all for you, so you are in a position to make the right choice to suit your needs. The variables you need to consider include the number of users connecting from your premises as well as whether you download or upload more information.
Tailored packages through a provider to suit your needs are the best option once an assessment has been made, but remember that as your business grows your requirements will no doubt also change so always consider future growth. Remember to ensure that a form of technical support is included free of charge in the package you choose. A static IP address is the most suitable choice for businesses as this means your identifying number will always remain the same; dynamic IP addresses change with each connection.
The benefits of a static IP including the ability to access advanced internet facilities and allows you to build websites, run a server and create an email account to send emails to your own website domain. Broadband is the one thing that business cannot afford to cut corners on and this tool is vital for long-term growth and sustainability.
Don’t be afraid to obtain as much information as possible from your potential provider and it’s reassuring to know that they are good deals available through competitive providers if you’re looking for reliable but cheap broadband. It is possible to measure your broadband speed; On the Broadband Choices page you can take a test and check how your broadband is performing.
Want to stay up-to-date with your business tech? Download this guide on digital transformation for small businesses [pdf].