A quick guide to business broadband


These days, a rapid, reliable broadband connection is an absolute must for every company. But the world of business broadband can be a bewildering one.
So what features should you look for when choosing your provider and your package? What is the difference between business and home broadband? What action can rural companies take to get a stronger connection?
The quality of your broadband can make or break your business. Remember to ensure your company is also protected from risks such as fire and theft by choosing suitable commercial insurance.

Why do I need business broadband?

Think about the activities that take place every day in your company. Do you send and receive email? Take contactless payments? Have a company website or social media presence? Sell or buy goods or services online? Hold video conferences?
All these functions, and many more, require internet access. And that means fast, reliable broadband.

What is the difference between business broadband and home broadband?

If you’re on a budget, you might wonder if your home broadband package is adequate for your company’s needs. But unless you’re a sole trader, that’s unlikely to be the case.
Business broadband packages have several advantages. The most obvious is greater bandwidth: vital if you do a lot of trade online, or employ many people who need access. Often, you’ll be given priority over home users at peak times, too.
Your contract will also offer you enhanced security features, eg anti-virus protection, spyware detection, and firewalls. If you take payments online, or handle confidential customer data, they’re essential: cybersecurity breaches can be hugely expensive for your business.
And don’t overlook the benefits of great customer service. So many home broadband users have tales of the time their providers let them down, leaving them disconnected for days or weeks on end. That’s a long time if your livelihood is at stake!
With business broadband, your calls go to the front of the queue, and you can choose enhanced support, too. 
A fibreoptic bundle of wire

What about sole traders and home workers?

So, you’re self-employed and you work from home? Then you might get away with a home broadband package rather than a business one, depending on the nature of your work.
If all you need to do is send and receive emails and carry out the odd internet search, then you don’t necessarily need an all-singing, all-dancing connection.
But if you run a website, take online payments, or carry out any form of e-commerce, then you could benefit from a boost to your bandwidth and the other features that business packages provide.
And don’t forget about the risk to your income and your brand if your connection fails. With a business broadband package, you’ll get a far superior level of support from your provider, helping you get back online – and in business – in no time.
Commercial insurance can also include cover for loss of profits from any interruption to your business.

What service can I expect?

Great customer support is one of the main advantages of business broadband – but you will of course pay for it.
So when deciding which package to pick, consider how your business would fare without a connection. If it’s vital that you’re always online, then look for a Service Level Agreement, which will promise to get you back up and running within an agreed time frame, usually 24 or 48 hours. You’ll be entitled to some form of compensation if the terms are not met.
Specialist, UK-based customer support lines are another plus point you should look for. At Insurance Choice, we know how popular these are with our commercial insurance customers.
And if you have 4G back-up, you’ll be switched automatically to mobile technology if a fault develops in your main connection. It’s not ideal for long-term usage, but it makes a great stop-gap service to ensure you’re always connected. You’ll need to install special equipment, which your provider will supply.

What speed do I need?

The speed of your connection is another key determining factor. So how do you decide what you’ll need, and what’s just overkill?
Internet speed is measured in megabits per second, or Mbps. It’s the download speed that is most widely advertised, though you might want to look at upload speeds, too.
Standard broadband has a download speed of 30Mbps or less. That’s usually delivered via ADSL (see our section on types of broadband below) and is enough to stream one or two movies simultaneously. So, if your business is just you and a couple of colleagues, this is probably enough.
Superfast broadband is between 30Mbps and 300Mbps. It’s usually delivered by FTTC (see below) and is a better option for a somewhat larger business. Around 95% of the UK can access this.
Ultrafast is above 300Mbps, and is best for major companies. It’s available to just over half the UK.
Most recently, providers have started offering ‘gigabit broadband’ – that’s anything above 1Gbps. This is seriously speedy!
Remember: broadband providers advertise their average download speeds, but what you actually receive in your premises could be lower than that – online postcode checkers can guide you. The number of people using your connection will also affect the speed.

What is a leased line?

Businesses that use huge amounts of data can benefit from a leased line. This is a dedicated circuit with their provider that’s not shared with any other users.
While most broadband connections offer greater download than upload capacity, leased lines provide equal bandwidth in both directions. So, if you do a lot of your business in the Cloud, this could be the solution for you.
A leased line will also be monitored by the service provider to ensure reliability.
Fibreoptic cable with light seen through the tubing

What is the difference between ADSL, fibre-optic, cable and mobile broadband?

These terms all refer to the infrastructure used to get your internet connection to your location.
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) uses a network of copper wires to transmit data. It is the oldest and slowest form of broadband connection, mostly used nowadays for home packages. ADSL2 is slightly faster. All but the most remote locations in the UK can connect to this network.
Fibre-optic, or just fibre, technology transmits data by sending pulses of light along cables. It’s much faster than ADSL and has recently overtaken it as the most common broadband connection in the UK. There are two forms: fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP).
FTTC uses fibre-optic cables to a nearby hub, then the same copper lines as ADSL for the final stretch to your premises. It’s available to most premises in the UK.
FTTP or full-fibre uses fibre-optic cables all the way to your premises, so is both faster and more expensive than FTTC. It’s currently available to around 20% of the UK, though this figure is growing.
Cable is a variation on FTTC that’s run exclusively by Virgin Media. Essentially, it uses the same fibre-optic cables to the cabinet, but then coaxial cables rather than copper lines to get from there to your location. That makes it faster than ADSL or FTTC, but usually not as fast as full fibre. Around half the UK can access this.
Mobile broadband uses 4G or 5G technology rather than fixed cables. It’s great if you’re out and about, but not ideal for general workplace usage. Of course, 5G is faster, but not yet as widely available as 4G.

Who runs these networks?

The ADSL and FTTC networks are run by Openreach, which is part of the BT group. They maintain the cables and sell access to other companies, who then sell broadband packages to you.

What is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)?

VoIP is technology that enables you to make voice calls using the internet rather than via the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), which uses copper wires. You might see it referred to as digital or hosted phone lines.
It’s more reliable than PSTN and is fast becoming the standard form. In fact, the PSTN will be switched off in 2025.
Among the advantages of VoIP are that you can keep your phone number for life, and switch easily between mobile and fixed phones. You might need special equipment to use it.

Should I pay more for a static IP?

Another term that might confuse you when researching potential packages is static IP. It’s promoted widely by providers, yet you might not have a clue what it means!
In simple terms, your IP is your network’s internet address. It’s how other computers find you on the internet.
A static IP means your address never changes, while a dynamic IP changes automatically whenever you connect to the internet.
It’s best to use a static IP if you are hosting a web or email server, as it’s easier for customers to find you on the internet.
It is also better if you have workers connecting remotely to your server, and it’s more reliable for VoIP services.
Static IPs make it easier for people with the right tools to find your precise geo-physical location, which can be an advantage or a disadvantage to your business.
However, the downside is that a static IP is more hackable, so it’s extra important to have robust security features in place. And it’s more expensive, too.
So, in a nutshell, it’s a pro for many businesses – but not all. Only you can decide!

What else should I consider?

Some other factors to consider are as follows.
Is phone line rental included in the price? Is any Cloud storage included in the bundle?
How many routers are supplied? If your office has more than about 10 people, you’ll probably need extra.
How long is the contract for, and will the price rise at the end of it?
And what do other customers say about this provider? Check out online reviews, and ask people in your area about their experiences with each provider.
Your business broadband package is a considerable expense, so it pays to do your research and choose wisely. When it comes insurance for commercial businesses, though, Insurance Choice can do all the legwork for you, searching through policies from a panel of trusted providers to find ones that suit your requirements and your budget.
Workers laying fibreoptic wire on a paved city street

How can I boost my rural broadband?

Lack of connectivity in rural and remote areas of the UK has long been a problem that besets many businesses.
If you’re a small or medium business, you may be able to apply for a government voucher of up to £3,500 towards the cost of installing full-fibre broadband that’s capable of lightning-fast speeds.
The UK Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme aims to encourage broadband suppliers to expand their provision to hard-to-reach areas. That, in turn, should stimulate the rural economy, making it easier to do business outside the major cities.

Who are the main providers of business broadband?

You’re spoilt for choice! Uswitch has a handy postcode checker for you to discover the providers in your area, and the speeds you’re likely to get.
So take some time to assess your business needs, including any plans for growth. And remember: if you’re investing in new computing and telecommunications equipment, get it covered with suitable commercial insurance.

Get a quote from Insurance Choice today

Running a business is a complex job, requiring expertise not only in your own field, but also in areas such as broadband technology!
Fortunately, Insurance Choice can ease one particular pressure: choosing your commercial insurance policy. We have more than 20 years’ experience in arranging cover for all sorts of businesses, from factories and shops to pubs and hairdressers.
Policy benefits can include cover for public and employers’ liability; fire and theft; vandalism; flood and storm damage to buildings and equipment; and loss of profits due to business interruption.
Our customer service team at our UK-based call centres can find you bespoke policies to suit your own business needs. We offer flexible payment options, including paying by monthly instalments.
Get a quote for commercial insurance today.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.