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Finding the right broadband plan for your business can be tough. Let us help you make the right decision.
There are a lot of different business broadband plans out there and it can be tough to determine which one is right for your unique business needs. We’ve put together this guide to help you compare the many Internet service providers (ISPs) out there and find the plan that will save you money and help your business bloom.
What makes business broadband different?
Business broadband shares the same networks as the broadband you have at home. However, there are a number of key differences that usually sets business broadband plans apart.
- Faster restoration if your broadband goes down. While your home broadband going down can be frustrating, it’s a whole different issue if your business broadband goes offline. For example, businesses on the Chorus network benefit from a 6-hour restoration target. This compares with a 24-hour restoration target for those on private broadband plans.
- 4G wireless backup. If your business broadband does go down, you will have a 4G wireless backup to fall back on. 4G wireless is available to around 97% of the New Zealand population, so 4G backup should see you through until you’re main connection is back up and running.
- Symmetrical speeds. Most private broadband plans have a significant difference between the upload and download speeds – 100Mbps download, 20Mbps upload is common, for example. However, most business broadband plans have the same download and upload speeds.
- Improved support. Business broadband plans typically come with a higher level of customer support than private plans. Depending on the provider this might include a single representative to go to with any issues and on-site visits when required.
What type of broadband connections are available?
There are three main types of broadband Internet currently available in New Zealand for businesses: Fibre, ADSL/VDSL and wireless. Depending on where your business is located, you may have one or more options to choose from.
Fibre, or ultra-fast broadband (UFB), is the most future-proofed solution. While fibre is the fastest and most flexible broadband on the market, it’s still in the process of rolling out across New Zealand, so it may not be available at your place of business just yet. Chorus expects that fibre will be available to 87% of the population in 2022.
Hyberfibre is also currently being rolled out across the Chorus network and offers speeds ranging from 2,000Mbps to a staggeringly fast 8,000Mbps.
Thanks to its multiple speed tiers, fibre can service businesses of all shapes and sizes. Small businesses looking to teleconference with clients around the world will find standard speed fibre plans suitable for their needs, while bigger organisations with always-online point-of-sale (PoS) systems will likely want to spring for a faster plan for low-latency. Hyperfibre and the fastest fibre plans of up to 950Mbps download speeds ensure that the time it takes to send large files across the Internet is dramatically reduced.
ADSL and VDSL are forms of copper broadband that use the same cables as your phone lines. At best, ADSL speeds typically go up to 5–24Mbps for downloads and 0.12–1.0Mbps for uploads. VDSL is slightly faster with speeds of 15–100Mbps when downloading and 5–20Mbps for uploading. Even though VDSL can reach speeds of up to 100Mbps, most providers advertise their maximum speeds at up to 70Mpbs.
The speed that you actually experience with ADSL and VDSL can vary depending on a number of factors such as:
- The distance from your place of business to the nearest telephone exchange
- The number of other users accessing the same network at any particular time
- The quality of the phone lines installed at your place of business.
Slow speeds and the prospect of imminent disconnection make ADSL a poor choice unless your Internet needs start and end with basic email and web browsing capabilities. If you’re going to have more than a couple of employees online at once, or you’re planning on downloading and uploading a lot of data, you’ll want to go with something faster.
Since fibre is not available everywhere just yet, VDSL is still a viable option in the meantime.
Wireless broadband is delivered over the mobile phone networks to make a connection from the modem in your business to the nearest cell tower. Since there are no cables involved, getting connected is as easy as plugging a modem in and connecting your devices.
There are three generations of wireless broadband currently in New Zealand. 4G is the standard network but in some places but 5G was introduced at the end of 2019. 5G is still only accessible in some on the more populated areas of Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, and a few other locations, but it is being rolled out further.
When it comes to speed of 4G, you can expect to see download speeds of up to 100Mbps. Spark, currently the only ISP with 5G broadband plans, says that 5G has the capability of 10,000Mbps, but we should expect to see download speeds of up to 3,000Gbps.
How to compare business broadband plans
The size and scope of your business is a key factor in choosing the right broadband plan. If you’re operating a small startup with just a couple of employees, your Internet needs are going to differ significantly from that of a large, 50-plus person organisation.
Connection type and speed
To find out what type of broadband connection is available at your place of business, you can enter your address into the national Broadband Map. This will show you what broadband you can get and the expected speeds.
While the faster fibre speeds are certainly appealing, they may not be necessary for a small business that only uses the internet for sending emails and basic browsing. However, a design studio that is regularly sending and receiving large files will benefit from quicker upload and download times.
If you’re a small business, paying a full-time tech-support team to keep your Internet running smoothly might not be on the cards. That’s why you’ll want to consider what kind of business support you’ll be getting from an ISP before signing up with them. Availability 24/7 is a must because the last thing you want to hear when you can’t access critical documents in your cloud storage is a recorded “out of office” message from your ISP’s support line.
The speed and reliability of business broadband doesn’t come cheap, but you can still save yourself some cash if you bundle a phone service in with your Internet plan. Bundle plans typically work out cheaper than paying for phone and broadband separately, especially if you go with a voice over IP (VoIP) phone service instead of a traditional landline.
Since VoIP uses your Internet connection to make and receive calls, you won’t have to pay line rental and you’ll often enjoy cheaper call rates to boot.
You may also be able to get a discount on your broadband if you take out a plan with the same company you have your company mobile phone plans with.
The business world never stands still and what’s right for your business today might not be what’s right for it tomorrow. That’s why it’s important to look for a broadband plan that won’t tie you down with long-term commitments if you are unsure of what the future holds.
Some ISPs will lock you into 12- or 24-month contracts, hitting you with cancellation fees if you decide their service is no longer satisfying the needs of your business. To avoid this problem, look for an ISP that offers no-lock-in, month-to-month contracts, since they give you the freedom to cancel at any time without paying through the nose for the privilege.
While you’re comparing contract terms, it’s also worth looking at the various fees different ISPs charge on top of your standard monthly bill. When you first sign up for a business broadband plan, you’ll likely have to pay a one-off activation or setup fee to get your service switched on. A deposit may also be required.
Additionally, if you need assistance in setting up your modem, or your place of business requires cabling work to support your new Internet service, you’ll have to cover the cost of having a technician come out and take care of it.
Speaking of modems, some ISPs will charge you for this crucial piece of hardware necessary to get your Internet up and running. Others might bundle a modem in for free but charge extra for a modem-router capable of sharing your new Internet connection among multiple users. Since a low-quality modem can slow even the fastest Internet connection to a crawl, it’s worth spending a little extra for hardware that won’t fall over at the first sign of heavy use.
At their core, business broadband plans don’t differ dramatically from residential broadband plans. It’s the extra features companies tack on to distinguish themselves from the competition that makes these plans attractive to businesses. Features to look out for include:
- Static IP address. A static IP address is vital if you plan on running a private server on your business network. For example, you may want to host important company documents on a file server at your place of business. By assigning that server a static IP address, you’ll be able to share that address with employees so they can access it remotely over the Internet. In comparison, a regular dynamic IP address would mean you’d need to update employees with the new server address every time you rebooted your modem.
- Unlimited calls. Unlimited phone calls are another perk to keep an eye out for. Rather than charging you for every call your business makes, ISPs offer phone packages that come with unlimited local, national and mobile calls every month. This can save you a lot of money if calling customers and clients is something your business regularly engages in.
- Backup network. A broadband backup service can be a lifesaver for businesses that rely on being online all the time. In the event your fixed broadband service is disrupted, ISPs will switch you automatically to their mobile broadband network to keep you connected while the outage is resolved. As soon as your fixed broadband service is available again, you’ll be switched right back.
- Security. Security is one factor of the online world businesses can’t afford to ignore. You don’t want unauthorised users prying into your business’ private files, which is why it pays to look at the security services different ISPs provide. From anti-spam filters to anti-virus software, you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your business.
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