26/01/2011

By Tony Tugulu

Broadband access has become a critical service for the vast majority of UK businesses, so it makes sense to select your ISP with the same care you would choose any business partner. But it can be difficult to cut a path through the conflicting claims made by different providers, including the high profile marketing campaigns from the big ISPs.
In order to clear up some widespread misconceptions we have put together the top five business broadband myths.

Myth 1: You have to go to the big vendors for the speed you need

If you believe the advertising from the big UK ISPs, you’d be forgiven for thinking that speed is the only thing you should worry about and that they are the only ones that can deliver it.

Firstly, these days, unless your business does a lot of uploading or downloading of big files (e.g. a design agency), you’ll find that a 2MB+ service will be more than enough for your needs.

Secondly, most ISPs use the networks of the big players and are therefore usually more than capable of offering these higher speeds if really needed. Often at a lower price!

Speed is important, but it’s easy to get hung up on it at the expense of other aspects including customer service and reliability. It’s important not to forget Bandwidth either; don’t go for a massive 100MB speed only to find that your bandwidth quota is heavily restricted. This, as much as anything else, will leave your employees struggling in the slow lane.

Myth 2: It doesn’t matter which ISP I go for, the customer service won’t be good

Remember the chaos and outrage from your employees the last time your broadband went down? Chances are, while everyone was clamouring to get it sorted, there weren’t too many volunteers to ring your ISP and find out what the problem might be: that’s because, more often than not, the customer service we receive from utility companies — both as a consumer and as a business — just isn’t good enough. You might be told that getting good customer service from your ISP just isn’t possible.

There are a number of simple steps you can take to find out whether an ISP is going to provide you with good customer service before you sign up.

For example, ask them about their service level agreement. Then, check their website; how many contact options are there? Give them a ring; how quickly do they respond? Ask the right questions; will you be given a dedicated account manager and access to their direct line?

Work with the right ISP and you’re no longer an ID number on a spreadsheet, but part of a two-way relationship. When something goes wrong, you’ll know who to call without fearing you might be there all day.

And if you find you’re not getting it, don’t be afraid to switch!

Myth 3: Switching providers is more hassle than it’s worth

If you’ve ever tried to change your home broadband supplier, you probably haven’t had a very positive experience and you’d be forgiven for thinking that switching your business broadband provider would be worse.

In the business world, with connectivity providers handling the switchover on your behalf, you can leave all the details and headaches to them.

How well they handle could be a good indicator of the relationship you can expect further down the line.

Myth 4: Only a bigger provider gives you the service and access to the network you need

When it comes to business broadband, you might think that size matters. Surely, with a massive ISP, you’ll get better speeds, better pricing and a better network?

With a big supplier, you might well find yourself struggling to compete for attention with bigger corporate customers. It’s the difference between waiting in queue on a premium rate number and giving a well-known and trusted contact a ring to discuss the problem.

And, as mentioned above, the network issues are a moot point too. Because of the way the law is in the UK, most ISPs use the networks provided by the big players, so you’ll still get access to the larger networks but will get better service and probably price to boot.

Myth 5: You need to spend a fortune to have a workable VoIP system

For years, VoIP (or voice over IP) was hailed as a magic solution that would provide ROI in an instant and change the way businesses communicate.

But as the technological limitations became a reality, getting a working VoIP system in place became expensive and laborious. Too many companies invested in VoIP only to find it clunky, unreliable and expensive. Most felt that the only way to get workable VoIP was to spend a fortune.

Recent innovations in technology from Powernet, have meant that any business can make up to 60 uncompressed calls, plus data over their standard broadband connection. Suddenly VoIP has come of age and is becoming a workable solution for businesses of all sizes, offering exactly the price and ease-of-use benefits that were promised in the early years of its development