13:23 04 March 2013
We've covered a number of topics in our Best for Business series, and in this, our final part, we'll be focusing on how to get the best deal on your broadband and landline.
No matter what type of business you run, a landline is likely to be an essential part of it. And with the majority of businesses now online, broadband will also be a commercial requirement. Here, we explain what you need to look out for when choosing a package, and how to get the right one for your business.
Bear in mind it's usually cheaper to opt for a broadband bundle, where services such as your landline, broadband and mobile are held with the same provider at a discounted rate.
Choosing a landline
If you run a small business, you may be tempted to use your domestic landline for your business phone calls, simply because it's easier. But this could be a mistake.
Not only can you get cheaper packages if you opt for a business phone line, but having a separate one also makes your business look more professional and trustworthy (and prevents family members from answering your business calls). You'll also avoid losing valuable calls because someone is chatting to a friend or relation.
Most business landline packages will have a line rental charge built in, but check to be sure. If you need more than one landline you can rent more lines from your provider.
Be aware there are also different types of landline, so consider what your business needs before you start browsing deals. Single analogue lines are usually used for making calls, connecting to fax machines and receiving broadband. Multi-line analogue gives you additional lines so that calls can reroute to a second line if the first is engaged - handy if your business receives a lot of calls.
ISDN2e and ISDN30 are digital lines that provide connections using different channels for video and faxing.
You should also think about the numbers you are most likely to call. Different providers offer different call packages so you need to think about whether you'll be calling locally, nationally, overseas, mobiles, 0800 numbers and so on. If you plan to make a lot of international calls, Voice over IP (VoIP) technology is worth considering as it allows you to make free voice calls locally and overseas.
Also consider whether most calls are made during peak times or off-peak - peak times (typically 7am-6pm) are more expensive. Once you have established this, you can choose a package to suit your requirements.
As with everything money-related, it's important to compare the market carefully to ensure you get the best deal possible. Moving from one tariff to another could save you and your business hundreds of pounds, so it's well worth making the effort.
But check first whether you are tied in to your current package. Most contracts will tie you in for 24 months, although some providers offer 12-month contracts. To get out of your contract early, you usually have to pay a fee. Also be aware that some suppliers require up to 90 days' notice if you're planning to move to a different supplier.
You can usually add a number of extra features to your package, such as capped call charges so that you don't overspend, three-way calling, caller diversion, call waiting and caller display. Of course, adding these features to your package will increase the price, so only select the features you actually need. Opting for a more straightforward package will help to keep the costs down.
Of course, while price is important it's not the only factor to consider. You should also look at how much support is available with each provider. Should anything go wrong with your landline, you'll need these issues to be fixed as quickly as possible.
To make things easier, you can compare a wide range of deals from a number of providers through our partner, Make It Cheaper.
Choosing a broadband package
If your business is a start-up, you may prefer to stick to domestic broadband - at least initially. But if your business is larger and more established, business broadband packages are far more beneficial.
For a start, business broadband users tend to get priority over domestic users if there is a blip in the service. Secondly, business broadband connections often offer much faster speeds than domestic broadband connections, and you will usually be given unlimited download limits.
These are all important factors to consider when choosing your broadband package. You'll need to decide how fast you require your business broadband connection to be and how many people will be using it. The more people using it, the faster the connection you will need - which, of course, will make it more expensive.
Generally, business broadband packages start from 8Mbps and go up to 24Mbps.
You should also consider whether your business needs unlimited downloads. It can be tempting to select a tariff that includes unlimited downloads so that you don't have to worry about going over your limit. But this could see you forking out far more for your package than you need to - particularly if your business is small.
If your employees are only using email and browsing websites - and are not downloading videos and music (or at least shouldn't be while they're working!) - then agreeing to a download limit could work out to be far cheaper.
Don't forget to also think about technical support. If your business productivity will suffer significantly if your broadband goes down, you will need a supplier with excellent technical support so that repairs can be made quickly.
You can compare a wide range of business broadband packages with our partner, Make It Cheaper.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.
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