Compare cheap business broadband plans

Finding the best broadband plan for your business can be tough. Let us help you make the right decision.

Updated

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. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you compare the many Internet service providers (ISPs) out there and find the broadband plan that will both save you money and help your business bloom.

Why should I choose a business broadband plan?

In this era of always-online smartphones and fast-paced social media, a solid Internet connection is more important than ever. This is doubly true if you’re a business owner since flaky Internet can directly impact your ability to serve customers and consequently keep the lights on.

Due to these more advanced requirements, many ISPs offer dedicated business broadband plans. These plans promise increased uptime and reliability and offer dedicated support teams to ensure a minimum of downtime and fast responses if there are any issues.

It ensures that you won’t have to suffer a choppy connection during a crucial video conference or constant drop-outs as you’re trying to upload an important file to your clients across the globe.

Some businesses may require a more complex office phone system, which can often be bundled with an eligible business broadband plan. Most ISPs have dedicated business support members who can help you customise your phone and business broadband package to the needs of your business.

Note: to be eligible for any business broadband plan, you’ll need to have a valid New Zealand Business Number (NZBN).

What benefits do business broadband plans offer?

At their core, business broadband plans don’t differ dramatically from regular broadband plans. They use the same Internet technology and typically offer similar speeds and download caps. It’s the extra services companies tack on that make these plans attractive to businesses.

What type of business am I running?

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.

A startup might have little need for corporate firewall services and denial-of-service security packages, whereas bigger businesses that deal with confidential customer data will almost certainly want to invest in such measures.

What type of broadband should I get?

There are three main types of broadband Internet currently available in New Zealand for businesses: Fibre, ADSL/VDSL and cable.

Fibre/UFB

Fibre, or ultra-fast broadband (UFB), is the most future-proofed solution for broadband Internet. Built on a backbone of high-speed fibre optic cables, UFB is split into three main speed tiers: Fibre 30, Fibre 100 and Fibre 200+.

While UFB is the fastest and most flexible broadband on the market, it’s still in the process of rolling out across New Zealand. First you’ll want to check if UFB is available in your area. If it is, you’ll also want to take note of the particular UFB technology installed at your place of business, since different fibre technologies support different maximum speeds.

Thanks to its multiple speed tiers, UFB can service businesses of all shapes and sizes. Small businesses looking to teleconference with clients around the world will find Standard speed UFB plans suitable for their needs, while bigger organisations with always-online point-of-sale (PoS) systems will likely want to spring for a faster Premium speed UFB plan.

ADSL/VDSL

ADSL is the slowest of the three connections and operates over the copper phone line network; VDSL is a faster form of copper broadband. ISPs are looking at gradually phasing out their ADSL plans after everyone has moved to fibre.

This means that any ADSL plan you sign up for will have a shelf life for only as long as it takes for the UFB to reach your area. Once it does, you may have to switch over to fibre.

Internet speeds on ADSL vary considerably 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 ADSL network at any particular time, and the quality of the phone lines installed at your place of business.

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.

Slow speeds and the prospect of imminent disconnection make ADSL a poor choice unless your business’ 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.

Cable

Cable Internet is generally much faster than ADSL and operates over a hybrid fibre-coaxial network. Internet speeds on cable are still affected by factors like network congestion and location, but with plans of 200/20Mbps and 1000/100Mbps, the boost to performance over ADSL is dramatic.

The only catch with cable Internet is that it isn’t available as widely as ADSL, and few ISPs other than Vodafone offer it.

How much data do I need?

After speed, data allowance is the next big factor to consider. How much data you’ll need every month depends on what kind of online activities your business will be engaging in along with how many employees will be using the Internet on a regular basis.

At the low end, some business broadband plans offer just 200GB–300GB of data every month. For a business that only employs a couple of people and uses the Internet mainly for email and web browsing, this might be sufficient, but bigger and more online-focused businesses are going to need something more substantial. The data needs of a 20-person company are going to be significantly higher than a sole-trader.

Fortunately, many ISPs offer plans with unlimited data every month. Most businesses should choose this option to avoid dealing with throttled Internet speeds or excess usage charges from exceeding their monthly limit.

What other factors do I need to consider?

Business support

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 a 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.

Phone 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 Internet 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.

Mobile connectivity

Flexibility is an important trait for any business, big or small. When it comes to broadband Internet, this means mobility. Being able to work online on-the-go can give your business a crucial advantage, increasing productivity during long commutes and ensuring employees can continue to access the Internet while they’re out of the office.

Contract terms

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.

Many ISPs will lock you into 12- or 24-month contracts, hitting you with hefty cancellation fees if you decide their service is no longer satisfying your business’ needs. It’s better, then, to look for ISPs that offer 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.

Account fees

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 fee to get your service switched on. Additionally, if you need assistance 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.

Extra services

The aforementioned factors are common to most business broadband plans, but many ISPs offer extra services to distinguish themselves from the competition.

  • 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.
  • Free account calls. Larger organisations that provide employees with work phones should also consider whether an ISP offers free on-account calls.
  • Dedicated webmail services. If you don’t want to rely on services like Gmail or Outlook to manage your business’ emails, some ISPs provide dedicated webmail services with their business broadband plans. While this grants you greater flexibility over features such as custom email addresses as well as better customer support should anything go wrong, you’ll want to check how many email addresses each plan comes with and the total storage space you’ll have available to you before signing up. You’ll also need to consider an anti-spam filter, unless you want your employees inundated with messages from Nigerian princes.
  • 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.
  • Bundled web storage. Just like work email addresses, many business broadband plans offer web storage which can be used for hosting small company websites. If your business is purely digital and your website requires guaranteed uptime, it’s probably worth looking for dedicated hosting elsewhere, but if your website is little more than a portfolio of your work, ISP hosting can certainly be an affordable way to do the job.
  • 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 protection from denial-of-service attacks, you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your business.

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