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Last updated: 10 May 2022

Broadband is a very important service for most businesses and the quality of it can make a big difference. If your use of it is light and not too important a cheap domestic broadband may do but if your business depends on it then make sure it’s right. Broadband is getting better and faster year by year. Typically the following are the kinds of broadband you can get but there are other variations.


Broadband terms explained

  • ADSL – This is broadband that has a faster download speed than the upload speed and is the most common form.
  • SDSL – This is broadband that has the same download speed and upload speeds.
  • Contention – This is the maximum number of other users that may be sharing a broadband service channel and is expressed as a ratio. For example 20:1 is a common business ratio and means that 19 other businesses could be sharing the capacity of a broadband service. The lower the ratio the more consistent and better service you are likely to get.
  • mbs/kbs – Mega or Kilo Bits per Second. This is the speed of the broadband.


Types of broadband

  • ADSL
    • Up to 8mbs download and 448kbs upload – often at 50:1 or 20:1 contention.
    • Up to 8mbs download and 832kbs upload – often at 20:1 or 10:1 contention.
    • Up to 16mbs download and 1mbs upload – A relatively new service that is emerging. A faster and cost effective service.
    • You can get PDSL (private ADSL) or 1:1 contention which means you are not sharing the service but it is more expensive.
  • SDSL – Usually comes in 1 or 2mbs and mostly contended at 10:1 or less. More expensive than ADSL.
  • Leased line – A dedicated 1:1 service either between 2 locations or as access to the internet. Between 1mbs and 10mbs it is much more expensive than ADSL but gives a fast, reliable and consistent service. You can get much faster services than 10mb but it is expensive.
  • Mobile broadband – This is becoming popular and inexpensive now. Thanks to the 3G cellular network you can get good broadband speeds on you phone or computer using the mobile network. This is fantastic for people who are very mobile and use laptops or hand held computers (PDA’s).


Things to look out for

  • Quality – Business broadband costs more than domestic broadband because contentions are lower and the service is better. A business Internet Service Provider (ISP) will make sure their service is kept working as optimally as they can.
  • Service – It is vitally important that when and if something goes wrong you can easily and quickly contact support about it and have the problem resolved as soon as possible. A good business ISP will have a UK based support centre that you can contact by email (if possible) or by phone. You will be able to talk to someone quickly during working hours or receive an email reply quickly. A good ISP will give you advice and help resolve a problem even if it is not in their network as problems are more likely to be caused by IT equipment on a customer’s premises or the line carrying it than by the ISP.
  • Use – What are you going to use it for. If it’s just for data then a second’s delay is not too bad but if you are using it to make phone calls it needs to be a good service. Depending on the number of calls you intend to make at the same time you may need a broadband service dedicated to voice calls. ISP’s can provide managed broadband which means it is specially optimised for voice use.
  • Contract term – Many broadband services are available on a rolling monthly basis. For ADSL 12 months is usually the maximum. For SDSL or leased lines you may get a better deal for longer contracts.

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