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The Ultimate Guide to Small Business Internet

Few things are more critical to modern businesses than a reliable internet connection. In fact, 75 percent of those surveyed think profitability is affected by a bad connection. That’s money you can’t afford to lose. So, how can you get great internet service without going over budget? This guide will tell you what to look for to make the most of your investment.


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Is Business Internet Better Than Residential?

Is it necessary for a small business to have business internet? Many organizations use a standard residential connection to save money. However, there are several benefits to having an internet package specifically designed for businesses. Let’s talk about three: support and service, static IPs, and dedicated internet.

When problems come up, you need answers—yesterday. That’s when it’s time to call customer service or tech support. Internet service providers understand interruptions for businesses are far more critical than for families and individuals. With small business internet, you can expect superior support, less hold time, and faster repairs.

You can also take advantage of the extra layer of security that a static internet protocol (IP) address provides. It’s a helpful add-on with many business internet plans. A static IP is assigned rather than occasionally changing like dynamic IP addresses do, which helps protect sensitive information. Additionally, a static IP is necessary if your business hosts a server or uses remote access tools like virtual private networks (VPNs).

A dedicated line is another available option with business internet service. Your connection is unreliable when you share bandwidth with neighbors. That’s because it might slow down unexpectedly. This could hinder your day-to-day operations or be downright disastrous if you’re video conferencing with an important client or shareholder.


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What Types of Internet Connections Are Available?

It’s important to figure out what internet service providers are available in your area and what connections they offer. This impacts the speeds you’ll receive and the price you’ll pay. There are a few primary types of internet connections: DSL, cable, fiber, and satellite. Not all of those options are available in every area—or even every building in an area. Fiber connections are still relatively new and therefore not always available in certain neighborhoods or buildings.

DSL

A digital subscriber line (DSL) internet connection uses a phone line to transmit your signal. You may be able to save money by bundling the two services. Another perk is having a connection dedicated solely to your business. However, if your phone line goes down, so does your internet. DSL is also distance sensitive, which means your speeds depend on your proximity to the service provider. It’s not as fast as other network types, but it’s more affordable than cable or fiber.

Cable

Nearly everyone can get cable internet access these days. It may cost a little more than satellite and DSL, but the faster speeds are worth it to many businesses. Some service providers are introducing fiber-coax networks, meaning even faster speeds for you. Your network may become congested during peak times as many cable connections are shared. The signal also slows down the farther it travels away from the provider.

Fiber

Fiber internet is the new kid on the block. It’s typically a dedicated connection with symmetrical upload and download speeds. Your signal travels through light pulses along fiberglass (or plastic) strands rather than metal cables. That means it won’t slow down over long distances or be affected by power lines and other electrical currents. Fiber is easily the fastest and most reliable network type.

Satellite

Satellite is a preferable alternative to dial-up internet in rural areas where other types of connections aren’t available. Weather and physical obstructions can impact your speeds and uptime. However, you aren’t competing for bandwidth with your neighbors. It’s also affordable for those with limited budgets and options.



What Additional Factors Should You Consider?

There are other things to keep in mind once you’ve found the services your area offers: price, Wi-Fi, and speed. The kind of internet connection available to you will often dictate the speeds and add-ons available. Price is also dependent on your network and location. However, there are still points worth thinking about.

Speed

Your internet speed can make or break your business. Productivity will decline without enough bandwidth—sometimes drastically. In fact, an employee can lose a week’s worth of time per year due to slow internet.

Bandwidth is measured in megabits per second or Mbps. Your download speeds are often faster than your upload speeds. So, be sure to ask for both numbers or if symmetrical speeds are available.

Determining the right speed is easy. Simply, consider how you and your employees use the internet. Not all activities are equal when it comes to the speeds needed. For example, video conferencing takes more bandwidth than managing your social media accounts.

Price

The cost of high-speed internet service is one of the first things small businesses think about when purchasing or changing an internet plan. Understandably so. You have to keep a close eye on every dollar that goes in and out of your business. Fortunately, there are options for every budget.

Take some time to figure out the amount of bandwidth you need, so you don’t end up paying for a speed you won’t use. Consider bundling multiple services like small business internet, phone, and TV. The cost per service will go down and you’ll save time by having just one service provider.

Wi-Fi

Wireless internet is something every business should take into account. Price can be a factor that makes small business owners hesitate. However, the benefits of a Wi-Fi network outweigh the cost virtually every time. The complexity is another reason companies may choose to forgo wireless. With managed Wi-Fi options, you can leave your network in good hands while focusing on critical tasks.

A wireless internet connection is beneficial for two groups of people: your staff and your customers. Small to medium-sized businesses can’t afford to let productivity suffer. The flexibility of Wi-Fi allows your employees to connect and work, even if they’re not at their desks. Additionally, providing free Wi-Fi to customers can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Up to 62 percent of surveyed businesses noticed that customers spent more time at an organization offering Wi-Fi. People are in less of a rush to leave if they can work or entertain themselves while waiting in your lobby.


What Are the Key Takeaways to Remember?

Your internet connection is a crucial asset for your company. Fast and reliable internet helps your business be more productive, engage customers, and maximize profits. There’s a lot to think about when shopping for services, so here’s a summary.

  • Splurge on business internet—it’s worth it.
  • Find the network types and service providers available near you.
  • Calculate the speed you need.
  • Save money by bundling.
  • Consider Wi-Fi, especially if your business has a waiting area.

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