Internet access is mandatory for modern business, but far too many small and medium sized business owners believe that a standard consumer connection is enough for their needs. From issues with data caps, slow connections and poor service, consumer internet access is often unsuitable for a company with more than one or two employees. Business internet access is as important as your water or electricity with respect to day-to-day operations. But many business owners are sometimes unclear about the need for a dedicated line. Here are some of the common questions asked by those new to the realm of business internet solutions:
How much does it cost?
The cost of business internet access is typically higher than you would pay for service at your home, but the cliché about getting what you pay for, applies. While download rates can typically be lower, at a higher cost, you get a symmetrical connection – this means that your upload speeds are often the same as your download speeds. A number of business applications require high upload speeds to operate effectively, this can include file sharing, collaboration, website management, and video conferencing to name a few. Most business connections will also add a number of ancillary services like email, anti-virus and spam protection, the option to choose between dynamic or static IPs, free modem rentals, backup connections, and 24/7 technical support.
At what point do I need to make the upgrade?
Residential connections are fine if you are the only computer on the network. If you have a PoS system, have more than two employees or use a lot of cloud services, you will want to upgrade to a more stable and powerful business connection. At my old agency, adding 3 new-hires to our network resulted in intermittent connection-drops throughout the day. We had a total of 11 clients on the network and anywhere between 2-3 hours of down time per day for nearly 2 weeks before realizing we needed the upgrade.
Is It scalable?
As your business grows you need an internet solution that can keep up. Residential or consumer internet access has a low data cap and low top end speeds. Once you connect more than five computers to the network, the bandwidth is eaten up and the connection grinds to a halt. A business internet connection can scale with your business, giving you more bandwidth as you need it. In addition, business service typically does not have a data cap, so you don’t have to worry about exceeding your ISP’s monthly data transfer allowance.
Why do I need so much bandwidth?
If all you ever do is browse the web and answer email, the benefits of business internet access may be hard to see. You already have the power that you think you need, and adding a more robust connection may feel like overkill. The reality is businesses need a lot of bandwidth to deal with business related applications like:
Cloud Services: The best way to store data is not on your own servers, it’s on the cloud. Cloud storage costs a lot less than physical data storage, but you need a connection that can handle that kind of data transfer. You may also find that software as a service providers can give you tremendous discounts when you access their applications on the cloud instead of with on-site installations.
Streaming: With Skype and other VoIP dependent programs, video conferencing is becoming the norm in business. A slow connection degrades the quality of your stream and makes your company appear much less professional to clients and business partners. With a business internet connection you will be able to stream calls and video conferences on several different computers in your office at once and there will be no drop in stream quality.
Security: Are you worried that someone else might be accessing your network or hacking your data? Business internet providers can provide a layer of security for your company by monitoring the volume of data transfers and looking for unusual activity. This allows you to stay ahead of people who want to do damage to you or your company.
Wi-Fi: If customers visit your site, either for meetings or to receive services, they expect to have wi-fi access. Everyone from fast food companies to oil change locations and big corporations offer free wi-fi service to people in their buildings so customers can continue to work while they wait for their meeting or appointment. Your business connection ensures that you have enough bandwidth to give your customers reliable wi-fi service that does not limit the bandwidth your employees can use to do their work.
Choosing the right plan comes down to understanding the size and needs of your business both now and in the future. Because of the potential expenses involved, consult with a professional who can help answer your questions and give you insight about the services most suitable to your business’s needs.