The world of business broadband deals can be confusing. With a barrage of jargon, technical terms and big numbers, there's a lot to get your head around in your search for a great package.
However, like any other service, it all comes down to the best overall value for your money. Whether you're after lightning fast speeds, a reliable connection for lots of devices or enhanced security, why pay more than you need to for business broadband deals.
While there will be a lot of names you likely haven't heard of, the space is also filled with familiar brands. Vodafone, TalkTalk, Virgin and Plusnet all offer business plans as well as the lesser-known bOnline, Xln and Onebill.
And that's where this guide comes in. We've done a deep dive into the best broadband deals of the business world and brought them all here in one easy location for you to explore.
You can use our price comparison chart below to see the best and cheapest business broadband deals in the UK right now. And if you are still stumped, unsure what you should go for, read on to find out more about what you should be looking for in your purchase.
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How to choose the best business broadband deal
It goes without saying that there is no single business broadband deal that will work for everyone. However, one easy factor to consider straight away is how big your business is.
If you run a small company with two employees, you won't need a super powerful ultrafast fibre plan with mounds of security. And in the opposite direction, huge businesses should not be investing in the sub-£20 cheap and cheerful options.
Once you've taken that into account, it is simply a case of weighing up the key factors for you. Is it secure? Will it buckle in peak hours? Are there phone lines included?
Claire Sadler, head of marketing at BT Broadband's business division, advises: "Traditionally business-grade services are slightly more expensive, but that's because they include things such as greater levels of support - both during and outside of normal office hours and guaranteed fix times - as well as more consistent speeds where business traffic gets priority at peak times.
"One other area to look at is whether it includes a free Wi-Fi connection outside of the office, which can enable staff to work effectively wherever they are - whether that's on a laptop, tablet or smartphone."
For business users of broadband services the service level agreement (SLA) is all-important, because the SLA governs how the broadband service will be supported. Richard Phillips, managing director of CUP Classic Cars, says: "As with anything these days, you need to do your homework and know what you need.
"Choose a reputable supplier that really understands your requirements and works with your business needs, so they can give you advice on the best service for you. You have to be comfortable with your supplier and know that problems are going to be resolved quickly should anything go wrong."
How is business broadband different?
So why can't you just use a normal broadband plan? Is a business option really any different? These speciality plans aren't just about faster speeds and convoluted names, they also cover data management, backup and recovery and cloud and email services.
Cost of course is a clear driver here but the devil is in the detail, as Andrew Ferguson, editor at thinkbroadband.com, says: "A good business connection should come with clear information on what speeds you can expect. So while cheap services will use the classic 'up to' marketing phrase, those services aimed at the business sector should talk about things like committed rate and burst speed."
No discussion of business broadband would be complete without considering the impact that the cloud is now having. Small business users can clearly see the advantages that cloud-based services can offer. What is also vital is the connection that is available to the cloud, which is where a reliable, fast and robust broadband connection becomes essential.
If you are looking to grow your staff quickly or if you're planning on using cloud services for your day-to-day activities, then you might want to look at a faster connection such as fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) or even a leased line which can offer speeds from 10Mbps to 1Gbps and is usually able to scale the speed as your business grows."
Top tips for buying business broadband deals
1. Perform a data audit
Before choosing a broadband service, look at how your business uses the data it is creating, storing and analysing. This will give you a benchmark to use that will ensure the broadband service has the capacity to handle these data loads. Is your LAN or WAN set up to handle high speed broadband?
2. Connect to the backbone
Your internet service provider (ISP) can be connected to the internet in one of three ways. These are referred to as tiers 1, 2 and 3. Look for a host that has a tier 1 connection, since this means they have their own portion of the internet that they control. These are the most expensive, but the most reliable.
3. Look for better bandwidth
The speed and efficiency of your website depends on how much data your server can send and receive. This is the bandwidth. Look for a hosting service that has bandwidth utilisation of below 50% to avoid bottlenecks.
4. Study service level agreements (SLAs)
Any hosting service worth their salt should offer you one of these. Look closely at every clause so you don't get any nasty surprises. Most items should be open for negotiation.
5. Seek cloud optimisation
As small businesses increasingly use cloud-based services, look for a broadband supplier that is set up to manage a hybrid cloud approach to data management, so your small business can use on-site servers and cloud services (opens in new tab) together.
6. Embrace data services
As more businesses embrace the cloud and the flexibility that this offers for teleconferencing, VPNs (Virtual Private Network) (opens in new tab), VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) (opens in new tab) and support so you can bring your own device (BYOD), choosing the right broadband service is more important than ever.
Phillips adds: "Don't think in the short term. Technology is changing so rapidly and now enables businesses to do all sorts of things that were unimaginable even five years ago - the internet is at the heart of that change. There is a wide range of options, but as with all things you need to buy the best you can afford, as you'll soon grow into the capacity, whether or not you think you currently need it."