IT for donuts: can you use home broadband for business?

By: John McGarvey

Date: 6 December 2013

Router - home broadband for businessIT for donuts is our regular Friday feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This week: can you use home broadband for business?

Home broadband for business

Most broadband suppliers offer a range of packages for home and business users. You'll usually pay more for a business package which, on the face of it, might look very similar to the equivalent home option.

Home and business packages usually use the same technology and infrastructure. Your data travels on the same wires no matter which you plump for.

And for that reason, sole traders and the smallest businesses should find a home connection more than adequate - as long as it has no download limit.

However, if losing your internet connection - even briefly - would cause you to lose money, then it's probably worth paying extra for a business package.

What's different about business broadband?

Business broadband packages tend to be a little more reliable and provide a better level of service. Every provider is different, but a business broadband package will typically offer:

  • Better peak-time speeds. Internet service providers sometimes restrict connection speeds when lots of their customers are online at once. Often, business packages receive priority, meaning you won't suffer the same restrictions.
  • Faster uploads. Home packages are for people who download (receive) lots of data but upload (send) little. If your business uploads lots of data (for instance, to a cloud backup service), this can be limiting.
  • Unlimited downloads. Many home packages restrict the amount of data you can download each month. Some business packages do, too - but the limits are usually more generous and unlimited services are more common.
  • Better support. It's when things go wrong that having business broadband should really pay off. You'll often receive priority support and have a service level agreement, guaranteeing that problems will be fixed within a certain amount of time.
  • Easier remote access. Many business packages include a static IP address, which identifies your systems on the internet and makes it easier for employees to connect remotely. Home broadband packages typically charge extra for this, or don't offer it at all.

Choosing a broadband connection is about more than deciding whether to go for a home or business package. But as a general rule, home broadband packages are really only suitable for smaller businesses that could cope ok if their connection went down for a significant period of time.

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