Broadband service providers would like you to imagine that investing in a suitable package for your business is relatively easy. But in truth, this is a market that can descend into over-reliance on confusing and obfuscating jargon that masks the reality of what a deal will actually offer.
As such, it is vitally important for a business buyer to come to terms with the misleading terminology that is used to sell enterprise-grade broadband bundles. It is also necessary to look closely at the small print and study the terms and conditions so that there are no nasty surprises a little way down the road.
To help you clear away the fog of broadband marketing hype, here is an explanation of some of the key terms and phrases that may crop up and what they really mean.
“Super-fast” Broadband Speeds
Broadband speeds are generally advertised based on the theoretical maximum that can be supported by a particular type of service.
This is why you will see providers marketing their connections as being ‘super-fast’ and then stating that you will be able to achieve ‘up to’ a certain speed at your place of work. This will be written in megabits per second (Mbps) and is generally indicative of a pie-in-the-sky figure that you should not really expect to achieve on a day-to-day basis.
Many different variables can alter the speed of a broadband connection and averages show that most packages do not match the advertised theoretical maximum. As such, you should look for a provider that will not promote its services based on a spurious claim, but will actually tell you what speed your business can expect in normal circumstances.
Super-fast broadband itself generally refers to connections that go beyond what basic ADSL services can offer. For example, this could include FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) and FTTP (fibre to the premises) broadband because these connections are able to offer next-generation speeds that are much faster than can be accessed by a standard service delivered over a copper telephone line.
Super-fast can mean speeds of anywhere between 24Mbps and 300Mbps or more, so it is important to find out exactly what type of speed your provider will be able to guarantee before you commit to a contract.
After speed, the data allowance of a broadband bundle is often the most important consideration to take on board when shopping for a new service.
Most businesses should opt for an unlimited broadband service, which means they can use the connection as much as they like without worrying that data-intensive activities will result in their hitting an artificial cap that ends up costing them more in the long run.
However, the term ‘unlimited’ operates in a similarly murky world as ‘up to’ mentioned earlier, because many business broadband packages that are listed as unlimited in fact have something called a fair use policy in place, which invariably imposes certain restrictions on what you can do with your connection.
This usually relates to usage during peak periods and each provider will have its own fair use policy that you need to scrutinise to work out whether unlimited can be taken literally. On the plus side, a number of providers are beginning to break down the tyranny of the fair use policy and offer truly unlimited business broadband that has no conditions compromising its functionality.
If you read the small print you can choose a business broadband provider and bundle with confidence, but complacency can be costly for businesses that rush into a deal without examining the terms and conditions in detail.
The author, Jamie Garner, works for Daisy Group, an independent provider of business broadband packages.