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Business broadband price comparison

We’ve quizzed the experts to help you find out how to get the best broadband deal for your business. Read on for their top tips...


It would be nigh on impossible to grow a successful business today without fast and reliable broadband.

Fortunately, getting online is relatively affordable for a small business. You just need to find a broadband package that’s going to deliver what you need day-to-day.

But what exactly are you paying for? What do those acronyms in your contract mean? And how do you know you’re getting your money’s worth?

In this article, we’ll look at some of the key factors affecting business broadband prices, explore whether you should opt for a cheap broadband plan, and share expert advice on how you can get the best deal.

Business broadband cost factors

In order to get the best business broadband deal, you need to understand the multiple factors that could impact cost.

With a little help from our broadband experts, we break down the different elements of your contract, and detail potential hidden costs so you can avoid getting caught out.

How much bandwidth do you need?

Bandwidth, also known as internet speed, can seem like quite a nebulous concept for the uninitiated.

Measured in megabits per second (mbps), bandwidth is the volume of data per unit of time that a channel can handle.

Or, to put that in simpler terms, how much data your broadband can receive at any one time.

If your bandwidth is 65 mbps, for example, you can receive 65 megabits of data per second.

So, the amount of bandwidth your business needs will depend on how you plan (or need) to use the internet. Certain online activities will consume more bandwidth than others – for example, streaming or downloading large quantities of video content will require significantly more bandwidth than simply visiting website pages.

This means you’ll want to pay for as much bandwidth as you need, but no more.

You can assess your usage by considering a couple of factors:

  • Number of users on the network
  • Number of devices connected to the network

You then need to determine the bandwidth requirements of your typical business activities. For simplicity, we’ve broken this down into grades of usage.

  • Low usage: browsing web pages, sending and receiving emails
  • Medium usage: downloading files, using internet-enabled phone systems, streaming video and music, using cloud-based software
  • High usage: downloading large files, web conferencing, users with multiple devices, heavy use of internet applications

The science of bandwidth is not exact, so assess your needs constantly and upgrade/downgrade to get the right amount.

A lot to take in? Don’t worry – we can help you find and compare competitive business broadband packages.

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Fibre or ADSL

You’ll probably have heard the term ‘fibre optic’ being splashed round in broadband advertising, but you’re less likely to have heard of its older counterpart, ADSL.

Before we go any further, let's quickly recap what these terms mean…

Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) uses existing copper lines to connect to the internet.

Fibre optic cables are more modern, and are capable of carrying data at much faster speeds.

We asked Sonia Blizzard, managing director of specialist business ISP Beaming, to explain what this means for a small business:

“As a rule of thumb, when more of your connection to the local exchange comprises of fibre optic cable, you would expect the service to be faster, and usually more expensive.”

“An FTTP (‘Fibre to the Premises’) service will generally cost more than an FTTC (‘Fibre to the Cabinet’) or ADSL broadband service that relies entirely on copper wiring in your local area.”

Today, you can find entry-level fibre optic deals at prices comparable to standard broadband packages.

Even so, in this day and age, it’s worth coughing up the extra for fast fibre optic broadband.


Business broadband price comparison


Setup cost

Business broadband setup involves a professional coming round to install the hardware on your premises.

Setup costs can range from £0 to around £50, depending on your plan and provider.

For example, Vodafone’s Essentials Superfast 2 plan has no setup costs, but Virgin Media Business Voom Fibre 1 has a one off setup cost of £50.

Mark Pocock from Broadbandchoices.co.uk urges you to check the installation speed of your broadband provider: “Make sure the actual service you have chosen to go with doesn’t take too long to install, as these times can vary.

“Also, the provider themselves may offer varying installation times. Some can take 35 days, whilst others can take 90 days. However, some providers can get you up and running within seven hours.”

That’s why, if you’re changing premises, moving into new premises, or changing provider, you should get your broadband sorted as soon as possible to ensure you experience no (or minimal) downtime.

Contract lengths

Business broadband contracts can range from one month to 24 months. The most common contract length is 12 months.

Typically, broadband contracts offer a 30-day ‘cooling off period’. This allows you to cancel your contract within 30 days of signing up (not from when it’s actually installed).

You’re also able to cancel if your provider fails to meet the terms of their contract, such as if your broadband doesn’t meet its advertised speed.

Hidden and other costs

Before you sign on the dotted line, check the contract to see if there are any additional costs buried in the small print.

Chris Brannon, chief technical officer at A1 Comms, says:

“Some providers neglect to tell you that line rental is usually payable in addition to the broadband service itself (for FTTC and ADSL connections). Others will try to hide an element by offering six or 12 months free, but subsequently tie businesses into long term contracts where the free or discounted element ramps up after the offer period.”

Likewise, Blizzard says that you should “find out whether extras such as a router, domain name registration, or a static IP address – which helps with things like web hosting and internet-based telephony services – are included in the price you pay,” as this won’t always be the case.

Static IP addresses 

A static internet protocol (IP) address is a unique number that identifies your device when it’s online. It’s static because, unlike your regular IP address, the number changes every time you log on.

A static IP address makes it easier to host and run your own website, and allows you to connect to your work computer from anywhere.

FTP server

According to Pocock, “an FTP server allows you to send and receive large files from those you do business with more easily.”

An FTP server can either be in-house or hosted. An in-house system will incur considerably higher costs, as you’ll have to buy the hardware and software and set it up yourself. Alternatively, you can access a cloud-based FTP for around £5/month.

Failover

Latency is the delay between instructing a computer to transfer data, and that data actually being transferred. Ideally, of course, you want this delay to be as short as possible.

If latency is too long, your system may well switch to a standby database, server, or network to perform the transfer. This is known as failover.

According to Pocock, “if your internet was to fail at a crucial time, then you can pay extra for failover.”


Compare business broadband prices

Below, we compare prices for some of the UK’s most popular broadband suppliers.

Most offer a range of plans to cater for different needs. So, for each provider, we’ve compared one of their more expensive plans with a more affordable alternative.

Get a more in-depth look at the best UK business broadband providers here

Vodafone

Essentials Superfast 2Essentials Superfast 1
63mb avg speed
Unlimited downloads
18 month contract
£22.50/month (£20.83 for existing mobile customers only)
No setup cost
35mb avg speed
Unlimited downloads
18 month contract
£16.67/month
No setup cost

Plusnet

Plusnet Business Unlimited Fibre Broadband & Anytime CallsPlusnet Business Unlimited Broadband & Pay As You Go Calls
76mb avg speed
Unlimited downloads
24 month contract
£29.50/month
No setup cost
18mb avg speed
Unlimited downloads
24 month contract
£16.50/month
No setup cost

TalkTalk

TalkTalk Business Superfast Simply Fibre BroadbandTalkTalk Business Simply Broadband & Pay As You Go Calls
76mb avg speed
Unlimited downloads
24 month contract
£29.50/month
No setup cost
18mb avg speed
Unlimited downloads
24 month contract
£16.50/month
No setup cost

BT

BT Business Ultrafast 1 Enhanced & Value LineBT Business Superfast Essential Fibre & Value Line
152mb avg speed
Unlimited downloads
24 month contract
£72/month
£8.50 setup cost
76mb avg speed
Unlimited downloads
24 month contract
£29.99/month
£8.50 setup cost

Are you ready to receive tailored quotes for business broadband? Just fill in the form at the top of this page!


Cheap business broadband

When choosing a business broadband supplier, you should bear in mind that, as with most things in life, the cheapest won’t necessarily be the best value.

Brannon says price should not be your first consideration when choosing a supplier: “Would a restaurant that provides quality dishes build its foundations on the cheapest produce? If broadband is not important to your business, then sure, go for the cheapest with no in-house support, poor service level agreements (SLA), and high contention within their network.

Blizzard agrees: “The SLA is an important one to be on the lookout for. This determines the length of time you can expect to wait for a fix on any fault that should occur. For businesses that rely on the internet to trade or access vital online services, it is usually better to go for the best level of service you can get.”

Brannon continues: “For businesses where broadband is often critical for day-to-day operation, the cheapest may not represent the best value. A provider that values a long-term relationship with its customers will not reserve the best deals for new customers only.

“A good deal will be the one that truly provides the customer with what they need for now, and provides an upgrade path for the future when they require more.”

Blizzard also urges you to look into the hidden factors that could be affecting the cost of such competitively priced broadband packages:

“If you’ve gathered a range of quotes for your new business broadband connection and one seems to be significantly cheaper than the rest, then question where the saving could be coming from.”

“Is customer support outsourced to call centre agents with little or no technical knowledge? Will there be a long wait for a fix should something go wrong? Are you potentially compromising on security? Will you see a huge price hike when your contract is up for renewal? When it comes to business broadband, service is often more important than price.”

If cutting costs means you’re also sacrificing on service and security, your cheap broadband could end up costing you more in the long run.

However, as Pocock points out, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t investigate deals offered by smaller providers:

“Going for the most expensive doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting the best product or service. Indeed, well-known companies don’t always have the best deals. In fact, some of the smaller, independent brands can offer good deals that might be better suited to you.”

Below, we’ve ranked some of the cheapest business broadband providers to give you an idea of the more affordable options out there.

XLN Unlimited Business Broadband 

17mb avg speed
Unlimited downloads
12 month contract
£15.95/month
£9.99 setup cost

bOnline Unlimited Business Broadband 

24mb average speed
12 month contract
£16.00/month (£17.95 with unlimited calls)
£9.95 setup

TalkTalk Business Simply Broadband & Pay As You Go Calls

17mb avg speed
Unlimited downloads
12 month contract
£18/month
£8.99 setup cost


Best business phone and broadband deals

Often, there are rewards to be earned for businesses that take a more holistic view of business communications when searching for a broadband provider.

For example, see if you can find a package that includes mobile, or a business phone system such as VoIP.  “This not only provides good monetary value, but has the advantage of placing all of your support resources in one place,” explains Brannon.

This can provide excellent cost and time savings for a business that goes beyond the headline broadband deal.

Visit our business phones content to learn everything you need to about choosing a suitable communications system for your business.


How do you get the best business broadband deal?

As we’ve discussed, the best business broadband deal isn’t necessarily the cheapest – it’s the one that’s most suitable for your particular needs.

We asked our business broadband experts to offer some final thoughts on how you can ensure you’re getting the best deal for your business.

Is it a business-focused package? 

Asad Hamir, founder at Klyk Tech: “Firstly, look for a deal that’s dedicated to business needs and won’t be lumping you in with retail customers, as these won't provide the best experience. Secondly, seek the best connection possible with high download and upload speeds. The lower the number of customers on the same connection, the better.”

Does it have a strong upload speed?

Hamir says it’s also important to pay attention to the speed: “While download speeds are important, the key term for businesses to look for is ‘upload speeds’. This is something you rarely hear about from providers, as they try to give you the minimum amount possible.

“A strong upload speed is crucial, as it dictates how fast you can upload data to your services, such as when performing backups or accessing cloud computing services.”

What is the contention ratio? 

Blizzard continues: “Contention is another thing to look out for. The broadband speed you receive will be affected by the amount of competing demand for connectivity there is in your area from other internet users.

“The contention ratio is the level of potential maximum demand when compared to the actual available bandwidth. The higher the contention ratio, the lower the maximum bandwidth, and the slower your connection is likely to be.”


Next steps

You should now be armed with the information necessary to land the best business broadband deal for your business.

To recap, remember:

  • Make sure the contract doesn’t feature long installation terms
  • Check the contract for hidden costs such as line rental
  • Saving on cost could mean sacrificing on security or customer service
  • A strong upload speed is critical
  • To check the terms of the service level agreement – will it leave you waiting a long time for repair?
  • A higher contention ratio means a slower connection

All these acronyms and confusing offers can be overwhelming. Rather than getting bogged down trying to make sense of it all, why not let us do the hard work?

Yes, I’d like you to help me find competitive business broadband deals from UK providers!