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The best broadband deal: how to choose the right package

The best broadband deal: how to choose the right package

You need to choose the best broadband for your business. The consequences of choosing the wrong access technology for your business could be an unnecessary bill worth tens of thousands of pounds or, at the other end of the scale, tens of thousands of pounds in lost business because your connection was not up to zero or with an adequate backup with a failover.

To help you avoid making a costly mistake, we’ve talked to top internet service providers and industry experts to guide you through the strengths and weaknesses of different broadband technologies and show you what to look for. in backup connections and SLAs.


Most homeowners and small businesses use exactly the same broadband technology they use at home: ADSL or a fiber connection in areas where luck has been updated.

Many enterprise fiber packages based on BT Openreach products have a «minimum download speed» of 12-16 Mbits / sec, but don’t be fooled into believing that this is an SLA guarantee. These promises simply mean that ISPs and BTs will consider connections that are constantly running below the set speed to be faulty; You will not qualify for a guaranteed repair or time compensation if your connection suddenly drops to 5 Mbits / sec. To obtain these types of warranties, you will need to consider more expensive First Mile (EFM) or rented Ethernet products.

For those who live outside the fiber areas or do not need high speed connections or guaranteed bandwidth, ADSL remains the most efficient access technology. Familiar limitations of long copper cabling lengths mean that ADSL2 + download speeds can range from just a few hundred Kbits / sec to over 20 Mbits / sec, and performance is also within reach of network disputes. It’s not uncommon to see a slowdown in the afternoon, when kids come home from school and start turning on their iPads and game consoles, which isn’t what you need when you’re trying to load a great file for late afternoon guests. a working day.

SDSL and Annex M.

Companies that do not want to depend on ADSL fluctuations, but cannot justify the cost of a leased line, have two intermediate options: SDSL and Annex M.

S in SDSL means symmetric, as opposed to asymmetric for ADSL, which means that the download and upload speed matches evenly. Better yet, the service is usually unattended, so your speed won’t be affected during peak traffic periods. However, SDSL is not available in all telephone exchanges and is an outdated technology that restricts the maximum speed to only 2 Mbits / sec in both directions. Even a competitive ADSL connection could regularly exceed those speeds, regardless of the fiber line. With an SDSL line of 2 Mbits / sec that costs up to 300 GBP per month, few companies will find the price worth paying.

Companies looking for higher speeds than ADSL can offer may be better off with Appendix M. This sacrifices little ADSL download speed for an uplink increase. Spitfire Annex M promises a downlink of up to 16 Mbits / sec for a 2.5 Mbits / sec uplink, although unlike SDSL, the line is contained.

Ethernet and leased lines

The next level takes you to the different classes of Ethernet services and leased lines. They can be copper-based, such as EFM, or fiber-based, providing a dedicated connection between your installation and the Internet.

These dedicated circuits are not cheap and are only suitable for larger companies or businesses that require secure bandwidth and guaranteed uptime; This could be, for example, a web design agency or a video production studio that doesn’t want to bet on a variable broadband connection when uploading a client’s video on Friday at 6 p.m.

EFM is one of the most cost-effective ways to get secure bandwidth. Use multiple pairs of copper to provide guaranteed and symmetrical bandwidth. Speeds of 10 Mb / sec or even 35 Mb / sec may not sound so impressive when independent FTTC lines are able to deliver higher download and link speeds than these, but EFM is more than speeds. of title. «It’s a dedicated, symmetrical bandwidth,» says Simon Osgathorp, director of the Internet leasing line at BT Business. «If a customer takes 10 Mbits / s, they will receive 10 Mbits / s, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365.»

EFM also includes service guarantees. BT has a target availability of 99.95% for EFM and supports it with a service level agreement (SLA). EFM services usually cost between £ 150 and £ 250 a month, but there is a slightly cheaper option called Generic Ethernet Access (GEA), which uses a single pair of copper, for speeds of up to 20 Mbits / sec and starts at at about £ 130 a month.

Although GEA also has a guaranteed repair time, it does not have the built-in resistance of several EFM copper pairs, which means that if one of the pairs fails, the bandwidth is reduced only slightly than to disappear completely ( see Failover, below ).

Beyond copper, you move into the world of pure fiber connections, where the decision is essentially about how much bandwidth you need. Spitfire, for example, will sell you a 10 Mbps / sec fiber Ethernet circuit for 350 GBP per month, with 100 Mbps / sec starting at 650 GBP. The exact price depends on the degree of physical excavation and the distance from the central network required to connect the buildings.

Whatever rental line / Ethernet service you choose, make sure you allow enough waiting time. An EFM connection usually takes 20-70 business days to install. The fiber lasts even longer 55-75 working days. In other words, you need to plan months, not weeks or days, in advance.


Whether you’re running an ADSL connection in your home office or planning a fiber connection for a 200-seat building, it’s vital to consider a failover option if your primary connection fails.

For a home worker, that resume connection can be as simple as a 3G dongle that allows you to go online if your landline connection fails. However, don’t wait until the connection reaches the Carphone Warehouse to get an emergency dongle; in the middle of an interruption it is not the time to discover that the reception is poor in the chosen network. Several enterprise-level routers allow you to keep a 3G dongle connected to a USB port, acting as a failover if the ADSL line fails.

If a high-speed connection is essential for setting up SoHo, you should invest in a second landline. Even with two lines, it may not be enough to save you if a JCB goes through the cables that lead to your installation or to your local telephone box. Wireless alternatives obviously come into play here.

When it comes to EFM, Ethernet and leased line services, Internet service providers often offer standard or paid backup options. Zen, for example, provides ADSL backup on all leased / Ethernet connections (it even provides dial-up backup for business ADSL lines), while Spitfire provides a backup line to cover the cost of renting the line.

For companies that rely on a fast broadband connection, a completely redundant connection can be considered a business necessity. This means making sure that the cables come out of your building at different points and can even connect to different telephone exchanges, although the latter will increase the costs considerably.

What is the difference between an SLA?

Ethernet / leased line connections should always have an SLA detailing target availability, repair times, and the level of compensation paid if the ISP fails to meet its obligations. The compensation shall be paid in the form of a credit for periods of inactivity exceeding the period specified in the SLA. In reality, this means that your ISP will never pay you more money than the amount you paid for your service and that no ISP will pay damages for the loss of business resulting from your downtime.

In this case, does it make sense to compare the SLAs of different Internet service providers before making a decision? Consideration should be given to when an ISP starts paying compensation.