Benefits for businesses

Having access to fast broadband doesn’t just allow businesses to browse the web faster. It can also be seen as a sound investment which could ultimately save your business money and opens the door to many opportunities that would not otherwise be available.

If your business is in a “not-spot” or “slow-spot” for broadband, we’ve suggested some ways below that faster broadband may benefit you.

General business benefits

  • Improved efficiency. A broadband connection is always live – no waiting for dial-up connectivity if you still use this route to the internet. This means that users are immediately productive without having to wait for connection. You can also reduce administrative costs by linking the online side of your business to your accounting and stock control systems.
  • Improved customer service. Having a broadband connection means your customers can contact you with any issues or questions they may have, 24/7. The added functionality of broadband means you can rapidly respond and help them in ways not possible over a telephone.
  • Speed. A standard ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) broadband connection at 2Mbps download speed is about 35 times faster than a dial-up connection at bringing data to you. Some very high-speed options available in some areas are even faster and would be more suitable for businesses that need to send large files, for example, any firm that needs to send technical drawings, graphics etc. or has many employees using a single internet connection.
  • Broadband is charged at a monthly flat rate as opposed to pay-as-you-go dial-up. This means that you could actually save money if you use the internet a lot and the regular payment system allows you to better budget.
  • A broadband connection also frees up the telephone line that was previously used to connect to the internet via dial-up. Staff can communicate via email, which means phone and postage bills can be reduced. You may be able to disconnect any additional phone lines you have had installed, saving you money.

Share your broadband connection

With a high speed broadband connection, you can easily share connection to the internet amongst several computers or other devices in your business. This would not be practical for a dial-up connection, and may be unacceptably slow for low-speed broadband connections. By setting up a simple Wi-Fi (wireless) network in your business, all staff members would be able to gain access to the internet from anywhere in your building or office, with a range of around 100 metres. If you had to previously have separate accounts for several computers via dial-up, this again can be a substantial cost saving in fees and telephone costs.

Cheaper and more flexible telecoms

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a technology that allows you to make telephone calls using your broadband internet connection instead of your analogue phone line. Your voice is broken up by special software into small packets of data, sent through the internet, and reassembled at the other end. This happens almost instantaneously, with no discernible time lag and at good quality – as good as a landline call. There are several variants of VoIP:

  • You could use a special telephone adapter that plugs into your broadband internet connection or router. You plug a phone into this adapter.
  • You can then use phone-to-phone VoIP for both your incoming and your outgoing calls.
  • You could change your entire phone system to use VoIP. This can give you great flexibility. For example, you could access an online control panel and divert calls from the office to your mobile or have different voicemail messages at different times of day.

Phone-to-phone VoIP is a technology which might offer the highest saving in costs for business. The cost of both your local and long distance telephone calls via VoIP is less than it would be using a conventional landline, as well as offering extra functions and flexibility.

Virtual working/Teleworking

Broadband, combined with other new technologies, has led to the emergence of a new approach to the way we view the workplace and what it means to go to work. This mixture of new technology and patterns of work has become known as teleworking or virtual working. Depending on your business, you or your staff might be able to use faster broadband to work from home. This could mean less commuting and dependence on transport links. If you run your own business, faster broadband may enable you to run this from home. This may allow you to reduce your overheads on premises costs.

Another incentive for the growth for virtual working is the increased emphasis on legal rights on work/life balance within jobs. For example, people with children or other care commitments may be able to use broadband to restructure their working days. Virtual working has very obvious cost benefits for both employers and employees, in increasing productivity and cutting commuting costs for employees.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

A VPN is a secure way for you to give remote access to your main office computer network to other branch offices, or individuals working at home or in other locations (e.g. sales staff on the road). Unlike linking your branch offices back to the head office through leased phone lines, a VPN uses the internet (via broadband) and secure encryption technology. This means that VPNs are extremely secure, and comparatively cheap and easy to set up. Because of these advantages, VPNs have fast become a major networking technology over the last few years.

The most common setup for a VPN in small and medium sized firms is using a client and a server. The remote client computer (installed with special VPN client software) uses its broadband connectivity to set up a secure “tunnel” though the internet to connect it to the server. This tunnel uses special encryption and user authentication techniques to only allow authorised users to access the main office server at the other end of the tunnel. Your server allows this remote user, via the secure tunnel, to access resources inside your network, as if the user was physically in the office.

SaaS – Software as a Service

SaaS is a new way of using computer applications. Instead of having to buy and install software on individual computers, with SaaS you access it from the internet whenever you need it. Companies provide a whole range of computer applications via the internet on an outsourced “pay as you go” or monthly basis. This is becoming popular for smaller firms who need specific computer applications, but don’t have the finance, skilled personnel, or time to install and manage the applications themselves. The solution: rent the application you need from a SaaS provider and access it through your fast internet broadband connection.

The software is hosted online, on the SaaS provider systems and can be accessed by clients through their internet browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. Applications might include Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, accounting and payroll software, Supply Chain Management software, email marketing and e-commerce applications. A good example of this sort of service is Google Apps, whereby all your emails, calendars and other company documents are kept online, accessible from anywhere via any computer or smart phone with broadband access.

Video and data conferencing

Video conferencing allows users to speak and see each other, to share data, documents, images and sound when they are not physically present in the same location. The systems use the internet to transmit the data back and forth. High speed broadband makes it possible to transmit more data, making the video and sound much better quality. From small one-to-one site conferences, through to multi-point sites with several different groups of people at each site – there is a system to suit the majority of business needs. Good broadband connectivity allows video conferences to be set up easily. You will however need to purchase a webcam unless your computer, laptop or mobile device has one already built-in. The main business benefits:

  • Savings on travel costs
  • Savings on time taken to get to meetings
  • Getting people together where diary time is a problem
  • Making collaborative working more manageable
  • Sharing of information, data, audio and video

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