Impenetrable jargon makes the task of selecting the best broadband solution for an SME more difficult than it should be, according to recent research from Tiscali Business Services UK.
The survey of 250 SMEs from across the UK showed more than half were confused by the jargon and acronyms used to describe telecoms services and solutions. Two-thirds found it difficult to compare broadband solutions and almost half were not confident they had chosen the best and most cost-effective solution.
The following tips have been compiled by Tiscali to help SMEs choose between the broadband options:
1 Before you do anything else, find out if broadband is actually available in your area. You can't get broadband over the phone network everywhere in the UK.
2 Don’t make the mistake of thinking a broadband package designed for the consumer market is the most cost-effective in the long run. Business solutions often offer additional services such as anti-virus protection and 24-hour technical support, which can be worth their weight in gold but are not usually made available to personal customers or cost extra if they are.
3 Some broadband packages charge by the amount of time you spend connected to your broadband service, so bills can go up and down. A regular monthly tariff makes budgeting much easier.
4 Make sure your broadband package is "broad" enough – don’t touch anything that offers less than 256Kbps data delivery speeds. And check what a supplier calls the "contention ratio". Broadband lines are shared between other customers – anything between 20 and 100 other customers could be using the same line as you. The more people or companies sharing your line, the slower your service may be at peak business-usage times. A contention ratio of 20:1 means you will have 19 other users, which is good for most business usage. Anything higher than 50:1 (in other words, 49 other users) and you may want to consider a better offer.
5 Look at the size of files you have to send and receive. If you don’t rely on large data files, such as video, graphic or audio files, you may not need the wider, more expensive bandwidths on offer (such as those over 512Kbps).
6 Alternatively, if you do use large data files in your business, make sure the broadband package can send those files quickly to customers or business partners, and not just receive them quickly. If you do need to send large files, consider SDSL (Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line) technology, which offers fast upload and download speeds, so your customers aren’t kept waiting.
7 Many companies that supply broadband now offer trial periods. If you’re not sure what is right for your business, make the most of such offers to ensure you are getting the right broadband package before signing a contract. Go for a low-speed connection (for example, 256Kbps) to start with and then upgrade if you need to.
For further information go to www.tiscali-business.co.uk
This was first published in December 2004