How to Shop For Business Broadband

Business BroadbandShopping for anything requires a strategy, and just placing word on the street that an open bid is on the table may not be enough due diligence to end up at the best possible solution.  Here are the best pieces of advice for anyone trying to figure out how to shop for business broadband services for their company or organization.  Here is how to shop for business broadband the smart and easy way:

Know What You Need For Today

The entire procurement process for business broadband must start with an honest assessment of what your current needs are.  You can do this rather easily by installing a tool that measures peak usage for both downstream (data coming in from the Internet) and upstream (data going out to the Internet) and isolate it just to your browsing experience.  Be sure to configure the software to measure only Internet based traffic as you do not want to spend far more on Internet access than you have to simply because you were measuring all traffic to and from your PC(s) and/or device(s).

Be sure to measure EVERYTHING that uses data from desktops, notebooks, laptops, tablets, and even employee/guest WiFi access.  You are looking for a worse-case scenario to use as the basis for choosing the right broadband plan for you.  Do this by summing up bot the total upstream and downstream needs for all of your devices, and it is generally good to gather data for at least a week if possible.  The cost of being down or sluggish should also be considered because Internet connections that are bogged down can degrade in performance to the point that applications that depend on the underlying connectivity might crash or become less than usable.  The cost of paying your employees to reboot and troubleshoot could be far more than the delta in price between a plan that does not quite measure up and one that slightly exceeds your current needs.

On the subject of exceeding needs, you might want to consider padding your needs slightly just to be sure that you never run into a worst case scenario during the middle of crunch time.  Crunch time is never the time to discover that you lack the bandwidth required to run your business at peak efficiency.

Know What You Want For Tomorrow

Once you have an operational understanding of how much data your network is going to consume in its current form and with current usage patterns, it is time to predict the future.  How big will you get?  How many people will be visiting you?  Be sure to pad these figures as applications become more and more demanding on their data usage.

Know the Tech Terminology

Once you know what you need, you need to see what kind of business broadband plan or plans in your area meet those needs.  You could very well end up with multiple business broadband packages to serve different departments, or simply as a failsafe.  Having a backup plan is always advisable and sometimes splitting the load amongst two very different providers can leave you in a better position when and if the broadband technology fails.

You should know that fundamentally there are two things you might consider: symmetrical and asymmetrical broadband.  If your downstream needs exceed your upstream needs several times then you need asymmetrical plans due to their pricing.  If your upstream and downstream needs are roughly equal (say 2:1 or even 3:1 down to up) then you need a symmetrical plan.

Business Broadband Support Considerations

If you have a limited IT staff or someone that does double duty as the IT guru when something goes horribly wrong, you need to take stock of your priorities.  Networks break down and they get fixed, but there has to be someone on location that can take the reins when something goes awry.  Simply calling your broadband provider and hoping that they will be capable of troubleshooting a slow connection when a complex network is involved might be too much to ask, regardless of how much you pay a month.

If you do have an IT person or staff that can help out, you are likely to get to the bottom of technical problems quickly and efficiently, with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) providing quick relief if their network is at fault in the form of service crews that generally arrive that day.  The problem is that these crews coming out for a courtesy visit when trouble is in-house can be costly, so be sure to read your contract in regards to response times and false calls.  Both of these together should help you pick an ISP with service levels that meet your needs.