It’s 2019 and your business phone and broadband can play a critical part in the success and continuity of your business.
The right connection will allow you to serve customers quickly, communicate effectively and future-proof your systems for growth. In contrast, a slow connection or phone service that doesn’t meet your needs could be hampering your ability to be productive, win new business or service existing contracts.
In this guide, we’ll explore different types of business phone and broadband packages, what they are and how they can introduce new benefits to your business.
Business phone lines
Like home broadband services, for most business broadband connections you’ll need to take out a phone line or use an existing one. Many businesses choose to keep things simple and use the same ISP for both business phone and broadband.
Business customers can expect more options than residential customers, especially when it comes to support. If your phone line goes down or experiences issues, this can have a huge impact on your business, which is why providers like to prioritise commercial customers.
While it’s always useful to have a local number for your business, it’s easy to add a non-geographic number to your business phone contract. This could be useful in marketing campaigns in a non-local area or to act as a dedicated line for technical support for all locations.
Most business phone packages allow you to add more than one line to your premises, which is great if you expect high call volumes or want to encourage customers to call a different number to reach your sales or service teams. A popular use for a second line is to set up a dedicated helpdesk for customer queries – that way you keep your main number free for incoming business.
Voice over internet protocol (VoIP)
A popular way for businesses to make voice calls now is through the internet, using a technology known as voice over internet protocol (VoIP). VoIP has many benefits over a more traditional business phone line, including lower setup and maintenance costs and greater flexibility, reliability and scaling.
Modern VoIP technology combined with superfast broadband means that internet voice calls are indistinguishable from standard phone calls, with no buffering or loss in connection.
One of the best reasons to invest in VoIP technology is the low cost. It’s cheaper to make VoIP calls, as the calls themselves are free as part of your bundle. There’s no line rental to pay to a provider and ongoing management costs are affordable.
It’s easy to set up a VoIP system for your business – it can be done within minutes. There’s no need to change your existing phone number, so you can avoid the hassle of updating your website and marketing materials.
To use VoIP technology you’ll need to upgrade your desk phones to a supported model. There’s a lot of choice out there from well-known brands, or you could use an adapter to continue using your existing phones. You can also get software for your PC, tablet or mobile that allows it to function as a VoIP softphone – meaning you can answer calls wherever you are.
How much does VoIP cost?
Most VoIP providers work in a similar way, offering packages on a 12+ month contract where you pay for the number of users you need. Some providers offer shorter contracts – with CircleLoop and RingCentral you can enjoy a 30-day contract and SureVoIP offers a three-month contract minimum.
You can expect to see different pricing tiers when comparing providers. Most offer a basic or entry level option as well as premium packages that include more features.
An entry level VoIP package ranges from £4.99 to £13.59 per user per month, with premium options starting at £16 per user per month.
One of our recommended packages, RingCentral Office, starts at £7.99 per user per month, with 100 minutes included, and is available on a 30-day minimum contract. For businesses looking for unlimited minutes, CircleLoop is a great option at £9.99 per user per month.
For more details on VoIP providers and costs, see our ultimate guide to VoIP providers.
Combining business phone and broadband
To make sure you’re getting the most out of your VoIP technology, you’ll want to pair it with strong, reliable and superfast business broadband.
While VoIP doesn’t require a large amount of bandwidth, opting for a dedicated leased line connection gives you enhanced reliability and quality thanks to its high, symmetrical speeds.
In the next section, we’ll take a look at business broadband options and the benefits of different types of connection.
Benefits of business broadband
Whether you’re starting a small business from home or running a thriving multi-premises company, business broadband offers you many more benefits than its residential counterpart.
Commercial customers can often access better upload and download speeds than home broadband users. This is especially true if you choose to take out a leased line, which comes with symmetrical upload and download speeds.
These higher speeds make it easier for you to run your business smoothly and stay productive. You’ll be able to upload and transfer files quickly, handle multiple VoIP calls and stay connected to all-important cloud-based services like your document storage and CRM systems.
It’s no surprise that ISPs like to take care of their commercial customers, as it’s a valuable source of business for them. This is good news for you, as it means you can access priority support when you need it.
Many providers have a dedicated team for their business customers so you won’t be at the back of a queue if there’s a technical issue. You’re also likely to find that a level of support is guaranteed through a service level agreement (SLA) as part of your contract. This details what type of support you can expect and deadlines, so you’ll be reassured that your business-critical broadband is in safe hands.
A major reason to invest in business broadband is that many contracts include a static IP. As home broadband users we’re used to our IP address changing every few weeks, but for businesses, there are benefits to having a static IP.
If you want to run your own server, a static IP is essential. It also makes it possible for you to access your computer remotely, so you can work on files from home or while you’re away on business. Having a static IP also makes your VoIP services more reliable, so it’s a great choice if you want to move from traditional phone lines to internet phone calls.
Types of business broadband
Like business phone packages, there are a range of business broadband types, offers and contracts depending on your needs.
From superfast broadband to the cabinet to dedicated leased lines with high upload speeds, there’s a connection for every size and type of business.
Many business broadband packages make use of fibre technology to the cabinet, before reaching your premises through copper cable. This is known as fibre to the cabinet (FTTC).
FTTC is often the most affordable type of business broadband as it makes use of existing connections and doesn’t require a complex installation. You’ll be able to access up to 76Mbps download speed and 20Mbps upload speed, which is faster than an ADSL connection.
One of the drawbacks of FTTC is that your speed depends on your distance from the cabinet. Businesses within 300m of the cabinet can expect to see download speeds of 73Mbps but as you move to 1km away your speed is likely to be closer to 32Mbps.
In many ways, fibre to the premises (FTTP) is similar to an FTTC connection. You’re connected to the data centre by fibre optic cabling, only this time the stretch between the cabinet and your premises is also fibre optic.
One of the major benefits of an FTTP connection is that you can access greater speeds, up to 300Mbps download and 50Mbps upload and in some cases. This is much higher than an FTTC connection as there’s no bottleneck caused by copper cabling and you can make full use of fibre technology.
As the technology is still in its infancy, there’s yet to be a full rollout across the UK. Major cities have good access to FTTP and there are a number of large and regional providers working to increase availability. It’s expected that 85 per cent of UK businesses will be able to access FTTP by 2020. So, if it’s not already available in your area, it shouldn’t be a long wait.
For businesses looking for the ultimate business broadband connection, leased lines are the best choice. A leased line is a dedicated connection that works by connecting your business premises to the internet, supplied through a fibre connection from the data centre.
With a leased line, you can access speeds of up to 10Gbps, with popular choices being 100Mbps and 1Gbps. These speeds are symmetrical, which means you have the same upload and download speed. This is especially useful for businesses that handle large file transfers or make a lot of VoIP or video calls.
How to find the right business phone and broadband package
It can be overwhelming trying to find the best phone and broadband deals for business.
We recognise this, which is why we’ve built free comparison tools to help you shortlist and make a decision on which package is most suitable to your requirements.
Simply start a phone and broadband quote to find the best prices on what’s available in your area.