There's an overwhelming range of options when it comes to broadband these days, and even more so if you're running a solo business.
So many questions you need to consider when picking a plan -
- Should you get a residential broadband plan or a business broadband plan?
- What NBN speed do you need?
- Where are the best savings to be made and can you make them without sacrificing performance?
Fortunately, there aren't as many decisions to make once you know what you're looking for. Use this guide to sort through the options and find the best plan for your business.
Do you need a business plan?
When you're choosing an internet service for a small business, you have the choice to opt for a standard residential internet plan, or a dedicated business plan. But what's the difference?
Whether you go for residential or business, you can usually get the same data, speed and price from a provider. But business plans often come with priority customer service. Optus Business, for example, offers 24/7, fast-tracked support – very handy if you've got a client waiting and your internet suddenly dies. Business plans can also come with premium modems, which should make your internet faster and more reliable.
The other advantage of going with a business plan is that you can usually get a static IP address. Your IP address is a number assigned to you by your provider when you connect to their network, to identify your connection online. With most residential connections, providers use dynamic IP address allocation, which means your IP address changes all the time. But having a static IP address makes it a lot easier to set up a business network or a remote connection.
In the end, the real question is, why not get a business plan? It shouldn't cost you extra and you should get better service. All you need to be eligible for one is an ABN.
How much data do you need?
Data inclusions with business plans range from 50GB to unlimited data. Your data needs will depend heavily on what type of business you're running. However, these days, unlimited data on a business plan can start for as little as $49.99 per month, which is a great deal, especially if you're working from home and using your internet for private purposes as well (hello, Netflix).
When you're running your own business, you want the internet to be always on, and you don't want to be worrying about your data usage on top of everything else. That's why all the plans we recommend below will be unlimited data plans. If you do want to investigate low data options for business plans, check out what's on offer from TPG, Exetel and SpinTel.
What NBN speed do you need?
If you're shopping for a business plan on the NBN, you'll have up to four speed tiers to choose from. NBN 12 is the most basic option and at WhistleOut we don't recommend it for business use. NBN 25 is being phased out by many providers and, thanks to a significant discount on NBN 50 prices across all providers, is not a good value-for-money option. So, really, it's just a choice between NBN 50 and NBN 100.
Who should choose NBN 50?
NBN 50 comes with download speeds of up to 50 Mbps which is fast enough for up to four people to perform data-heavy activities like video calling or streaming video simultaneously.
However, note that NBN 50 upload speeds do not exceed 30 Mbps and will usually be less (around 20Mbps) during peak hours. This speed is fine if you're mainly using the internet to communicate with clients and send invoices. However, if you're regularly transmitting large files or doing a daily cloud back-up of large servers, these upload speeds are likely to cause delays and interfere with the efficiency and effectiveness of your back-ups.
NBN 100 plans
NBN 100 comes with download speeds of up to 100 Mbps and upload speeds of around 60 Mbps during peak hours. Because of the high upload speeds, NBN 100 is best suited to graphic designers, architects and other solopreneurs who regularly share large files with clients and may be running daily back-ups of large files to the cloud.
What if you can't get NBN?
If you're still waiting for NBN, your best option is most likely to look at an unlimited ADSL2+ or cable internet plan. Cable internet is usually faster and more reliable than ADSL2+ but is only available in certain areas, and only through Optus if you want a business plan. You can run an address search on both telco websites to see if you can get access to cable at your premises.
Unlimited ADSL2+ business plans
Unlimited cable business plans
About the author:
Jacqui Dent is associate editor at Whistleout.com.au and spends all day, every day, living and breathing phone and internet plans. So far she has suffered no adverse effects.