How to Save on Business Broadband

Business BroadbandBusinesses have their own processes in place to determine how they will procure goods and services, and the selection process of business broadband is no different, right?  Wrong.  Today’s business requires us to stay as connected as possible, and broadband performance is not something you want to leave open to the lowest bidder, or to kneecap yourself and/or your business by not choosing the best broadband plan for your data needs just because you could save a few bucks.   The difference between a few hundred dollars a year could be massive when it comes to the impact on the bottom line, and this is an economy where the quick and the dead are separated by one small mistake such as choosing the wrong broadband service.

With all of that in mind, here are four easy steps to finding the right business broadband plan for you and your needs:

Step 1: Measure Business Broadband Usage

If you do not have an IT person, this step could be a real challenge depending on your level of technical expertise.  The goal here is to get an accurate measurement of how each individual user is likely to use their data access during the course of their day.  There are many tools for doing this, and your goal should really to be look for peak usage as well as how sustained that usage was over a rolling minute.  For example, if a station downloads a software update to a critical application at 780 Kbps for about 2 minutes before it patches, then you want to consider this fact carefully because if you have 800 terminals then they either need to be patched in staggered times or from a local source.  If you cannot get either one of these options to work with your setup and operational plans, then you need to consider what will happen when all of the stations start pulling patch data at once.

Local cache servers may help with this, but not every business is big enough for a cache server to make financial or technical sense.  IF there are only 3 stations, then the patch data is worth considering as a standalone high point.  If there are many stations, you must go with the worst case scenario, even if it is a weekly or monthly event because of the cost associated with bogging down the network.

Remember to check both the upstream (data sent) as well as the downstream (data received ) in this fashion and do not mistake local data from a file server or jabber client for external data as these should not impact your broadband needs.  Of course, if the server and/or service is being hosted for external access of any kind, it also needs to be measured.

Step 2: Add Overhead for Your Business Broadband Usage Model

Once you have a good idea for how much data every single user is likely to consume, sum it all up.  Now we need to add some overhead for growth and the additional complexity of future programs and tasks.  After all, everything is shifting to the Internet these days!  Again, be sure to measure both upstream and downstream data usage in this fashion and adjust them accordingly.

Step 3: Understand the Different Technologies & Terminologies

Now you should have a very good feel for what you need to buy, and so you have to decide which carriers offer what you want.  Now comes the time to discuss the different technologies and terms that you might run into.  DSL, Tx, cable modems, directed radio, satellite, and fiber optic based broadband offerings are your most popular choices for business grade broadband.  While DSL and cable modems used in businesses tend to be far heavier duty than their residential counterparts, some of the other technologies are almost unheard of for consumer-grade access.

Tx (T1, T3, OCx) lines are strictly business grade and up, but they may be outmoded and may not meet your needs at the same price that more affordable and common alternatives will.  Satellite and directed radio also have their place in businesses, especially as backup systems but neither are considered great prime-time for anything but the most unique of cases.

Step 4: Start Shopping For Business Broadband Plans

Ok, you have the information you need but now you just need to compare.  Be sure to check out the bundles offered by your local telecom and cable company as well as other providers to see if you cansave money by bundling services.  Do not forget to ask what other kinds of services can be bundled if you want to save even more!