According to the Federation of Small Businesses, broadband is now the fourth utility, alongside gas, electricity and water. Getting fast and reliable broadband in your office has never been more important.
The need for speed adds up in two separate ways. On the one hand you have high-bandwidth activities such as streaming video, transferring large files and video conferencing. On the other you have the issue of the connection to your office being split among all your staff: even light use by each person can quickly add up, particularly with the trend towards cloud computing applications, such as Office 365, where data is processed and stored online.
Broadband speed isn’t simply a case of being able or unable to carry out a particular function. Speed and reliability can also affect staff performance and even morale. Delays waiting for pages to load or files to download can frustrate staff and increase tension in the workplace. They can also lead to staff turning their attention to something else while waiting for the glitch to end, meaning they take longer to get back to work once the Internet wait is over.
It’s also worth looking at upload speeds. These are commonly restricted to around a tenth of the download speed on a particular package, a ratio that works well for home users. In a business setting that’s not always the case: videoconferencing and file transfers can require adequate uploading capacity.
One big problem for businesses is that they don’t have the same level of protection against misleading speed claims. Consumers not only have the right to get an accurate estimate of the speeds available on their package, but can cancel a contract if the provider fails to consistently meet those speeds. Scandalously such rules don’t yet apply to businesses (though Ofcom is working with the major providers to draw up a code of conduct), so it’s important to read customer reviews and seek expert advice rather than rely solely on the claims of broadband providers.
Getting the right broadband deal for your office is a complex process that includes careful planning, shopping around and even negotiation. If you want more help to make sure you make the right choices, talk to us at Ratcliff IT.