Things to Know Before Choosing Broadband for a Small or Medium Enterprise

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Commercial Broadband

Small and medium businesses are growth drivers for rapidly developing nations. They create wealth locally and contribute significantly to the country’s economy. Asian Development Bank says that 96.6% of all enterprises in its members account for MSMEs, contributing 28% to economic outcomes. Despite their significant share of countries’ wealth, SMEs face hardships in meeting their ends in the hyper-connected business landscape. 

Clearly, robust small business broadband is non-negotiable. While it is an excellent solution, choosing the right partner remains challenging. However, understanding its importance and assessing available options against business needs is the best place to begin.

Broadband Connectivity: An essential prerequisite for small and medium enterprises

Fast and stable broadband enables efficient communication, online transactions, customer support, data transfer, and cloud-based services. Its absence leads to slow response time, limited resource access, and disruption. 

The following use cases shed more light on the significance of broadband for SMEs.

  • Consider a startup that heavily relies on online orders. Poor connectivity can result in frustrated customers, cancelled orders, and, eventually, lost revenue.
  • In the age of digital payments, slow Internet connections can be the biggest roadblock to businesses. In times when even street vendors are going cashless, poor connectivity can throw an SME out of business in no time.
  • Remote working is integral to modern businesses. A robust connection ensures seamless workflow and collaboration between remote teams and enhances productivity. 
  • Broadband bridges the digital divide between SMEs, markets, competitors, and large incumbents. It helps generate opportunities, maintain a relevant digital presence, stay informed about trends, and gain insight and guidance. 

Unique connectivity needs for SMEs

Small and medium businesses have unique Internet requirements. Assessing these business needs in terms of speed, bandwidth, and more is crucial. A few requirement drivers that call for meticulous deliberation are:

Number of employees and devices

Every laptop, tablet, smartphone, printer, and IoT device consumes bandwidth. Picking high-bandwidth plans impacts the cost. It is crucial to weigh the number against the budget to find a balanced service.

Usage pattern

Not all SMEs work with data-intensive applications. Some use the Internet primarily for browsing, communication, emails and social media marketing. Identifying frequent Internet activities determines the kind of broadband service needed.

Growth and future requirements

SMEs’ Internet requirements change with business growth. Growth involves expanding the workforce, opening new branches, and launching new product lines. Choosing broadband services that can quickly scale eliminates the need for frequent service changes.

 

Industry-specific needs

A design agency may check an ISP’s internet speed for small business plans for quick uploads. A call centre will prioritise seamless voice communication. Industry-specific needs determine the level of reliability and performance expected from broadband solutions.

  

Weighing the options for SME broadband: Wired, Wireless, and Fiber 

Broadband connections come with various technologies. Here is an overview of the prominent types to encourage an informed decision.

Wired connections

Fibre optics internet

It is a high-speed, reliable leased line connection known for its high data transfer rate with minimum latency. It is ideal for businesses relying on cloud services, multiple Internet users, data-intense collaborations, file transfers, and video conferences. However, it may have limited availability in rural and remote areas. 

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)

Digital Subscriber Line delivers Internet using existing telephone lines. It fits more easily in SMEs’ small pockets. Due to its slow speed, it is only suitable for moderate Internet needs, including browsing, emails, and light file downloads.

Wireless connections

Cellular Internet 

It provides wireless Internet with an unlimited range. With widespread networks and technological advancement, it offers ultra-fast speed, extensive coverage, and unmatched mobility. However, it can be expensive when used overseas.

Satellite 

Satellite is an option for small businesses in remote or rural locations. However, due to its slow speed, it is often the last resort.  

Drawing parallels between wired and wireless connectivity.

Attributes Wireless Wired
Mobility Anywhere access. Extensive availability. Limited-range access due to cabin needs.
Infrastructure Minimum cable infrastructure. Quick setup. Complicated setup with several ports and cables.
Speed A bit slower than wired networks. Faster and more reliable than wireless.
Security Less secure but often implemented with extensive additional security measures. More secure than wireless, especially.
Scalability Highly scalable and can grow with the business. Limited scaling due to cabling infrastructure and complicated networks.

Points to ponder before calling the final shots

Once the right technology and connection type are in the bag, choosing small business internet providers and services is next. 

Speed Requirements

Assess expected download and upload speed. Businesses involving large file downloads or video conferencing require high speed, while slower connections satisfy basic browsing and emails. However, faster Internet saves time, increases productivity, and accommodates evolving Internet needs.

Scalability

Small businesses grow rapidly, and so do their bandwidth requirements. They must pick a flexible service that can scale up and down as required.

Reliability and Uptime

These are the key factors when choosing broadband for SMEs. Reliable Internet is fundamental to uninterrupted, efficient operations and communication with customers, suppliers, investors, and other stakeholders. 

Service level Agreements (SLAs)

Team up with a provider who offers strong SLAs, including high uptime, quick and cost-effective scale-ups, and fast response times to mitigate potential disruptions.

Data Security

Choose a service that safeguards sensitive data from rising cyber threats. The provider must offer security measures such as firewalls, MPLS VPNs, and encryption and help establish the business as a trusted brand.

Cost Considerations

The best approach to finding cost-effective broadband service is to compare prices, additional fees, and contract terms from multiple providers. Note that the cheapest is not always the best, especially considering reliability, speed, and support.

Customer Support

Choose broadband services with 24/7 customer support. The provider must quickly resolve technical glitches to ensure smooth operations. Reviews and recommendations can help gauge the provider’s service quality. Include customer support in the SLA for guaranteed timely services.

Technology and Infrastructure

Check the ISP’s infrastructure to support SMEs’ unique speed, bandwidth, and security needs, especially for remote and rural locations. ISPs must know which access points will provide the best service and provide built-in firewalls and broadband network gateway models with high-quality standards. 

In NutShell

A high-speed, secure, stable, and reliable broadband connection links SMEs to new markets and growth opportunities. It is a game-changing tool for battling rapid technological developments, fierce competition, and the dynamic business landscape.

However, SMEs must contemplate multiple factors before closing on the broadband service. A flexible, uniquely tailored connection backed by easy-to-understand contracts, exceptional customer support, and a fair price is a necessary headstart for SMEs.

 

Contact Airtel Business to start your journey towards the best business broadband interet solutions.

Airtel Business is India’s leading and most trusted provider of ICT services with a global network across the USA, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia-Pacific, India and SAARC regions. We serve over 1200 global enterprises, 2000 large and 1 million medium/small businesses across India.