Choosing the right phone or broadband service
Phone and broadband services are vital to businesses. Some 83% of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) agree that they would not be able to achieve their goals without them.
25% of businesses and SMEs have switched their provider over the last two years, the most common reason being to find a cheaper deal for their organisation.
Whether you're a setting up your business for the first time, or shopping around for a better deal, it's important that you make the right choice.
What products are available?
Services for businesses range from standard services to specialist and bespoke products.
These include voice and data products running over full fibre or partial fibre broadband, dedicated data connections such as leased lines, and other services such as business mobile. See our jargon buster for more details on these.
Choosing the right technology
New technology could suit your business. Speak to your provider about what you need.
There are plenty of providers that cater for businesses. One way to compare services is to use an Ofcom-accredited price comparison website.
Our broadband and mobile coverage checker can help you check the range and quality of services in your area. By entering a postcode, you can check the availability of superfast broadband, average download speeds and the quality of mobile coverage for the major providers.
Prices and service levels
Every business wants to keep its overheads down, but going for the cheapest deal might not be the right choice.
Providers offer different levels of service, and higher levels of service usually cost more.
It might be worth spending more in return for a better Service Level Agreement (SLA). SLAs are a contractual commitment provided by the telecoms operator to provide a minimum level of quality of service to your business. For example, a deal that offers quicker repairs.
More details are outlined on our contracts page.
Research a provider's track record in customer service. Take a look at our latest report on customer service satisfaction with the quality of service they receive from their telecoms provider. We also regularly publish data on complaints made against the major telecoms and pay-TV providers.
Resilience and traffic management
Staying connected is critical to businesses.
Bear in mind that not all products come with a SLA for service availability, and only some are fully resilient (100% 'uptime').
This means that from time to time there may be temporary 'downtime' in your service. For example, a 99.9% SLA would mean that on average your services might be down for ten minutes per week.
Providers offer resilience options for various products. Discuss this with your provider. You might only need this if your business needs a constant connection.
Providers can impose internet traffic management under certain circumstances. This could affect your services if you are conducting data-intensive activities. Read our introductory guide to net neutrality to find out more.
Residential and business products: knowing what you need
Many providers sell both residential and business products and services, and because around a quarter of SMEs operate from a home office, in some cases you might have a dual use for your connection.
If you are a business thinking about a residential service, check the terms and conditions, as not all providers will allow you to use a residential tariff for business purposes. This also applies to mobile contracts.
There are advantages in specific business products. For example, landline products will often come with improved service levels, priority customer service, and other features, such as an option to set up a Freephone business number.
Business broadband products can include faster speeds, static IP addresses, email addresses for your company, website domains and webspace if you want to build a website. They might also include enhanced security features.
Business mobile tariffs could benefit to your business. They may offer shared data plans that are spread between several handsets, cheaper calls between those handsets, and access to relevant apps and tools.
You might be able to negotiate particular details with your supplier before agreeing to a service. You can request information about the conditions in your contract, as explained on our contracts page.