Running your own small business can be a passion, but it’s not without its stressful moments. Especially when the infrastructure you need in order to make a move just isn’t there — and this includes broadband. Everything from customer communication to banking to record-keeping happens online. It’s an essential part of modern business. If your connection goes down, chances are you’ll be left in the lurch. At the same time, you want to know you’re getting value for money. So how can you get the support you need without breaking your budget?
Before we go too far into this topic, it’s important to note that no two business are exactly the same. Every organisation has its own way of working, so the way they each use the internet will differ as well. Some businesses operate out of a fixed address and might prefer a wired connection. Others might offer free WiFi to their customers and guests, or have multiple locations to service. That’s not to forget the question of data and speed — how much bandwidth does your small business need, and how fast do you need it?
What Do You Need?
As we can see, not all organisations have the same internet needs, nor the same budget. So it’s important to list out the practical considerations and how much they matter to your organisation.
You need reliability
This should be a given — a connection that doesn’t connect is useless. When it comes to business broadband, you need to know that when you login, you will have access to all your online assets. If you’re relying on an ADSL2+ connection or Naked DSL pack, this means that you need to go with an internet provider that has an exchange nearby. Anything further than two kilometers away and the speed available through the copper wires just slows right down.
You need speed
Time is money in any business. It doesn’t matter if you’re working on a solo operation in your garage or managing a successful start-up. If you or your employees are having to wait to access their online resources, then you’re wasting your most valuable asset. While there may be a case for slower connections in favour of cost, your small businesses should be focusing on plans that deliver higher speeds. This is especially true if you have employees who will all need online access at the same time.You need a solid data quota
This is less a question of usage and more a question of cost. If you know exactly how much data you’re likely to use in any given month, then you’re in a good position to make a call on how much data you need. You may be able to take advantage of the cost savings available through a capped plan — as long as going over the quota won’t cripple your business.
You need a budget-friendly plan
This is a given for any business. You need to know how much value your internet connection delivers. This includes taking into account any perks, privileges, or bundles available. Then you need to figure out just how much you’re willing to put aside to access these benefits.
Which Broadband Deals Suit a Small Business?
Doing a quick search for “small business broadband” will bring up page after page of results (and ads). So how do you know which ones are worth your time? Let’s walk through the ones we think deliver the best value.
Starting out? Get Mate’s rates
If you’re setting up your small business’ first ever internet connection, chances are that you will want to play it safe. This means that contracts are bad, low rates are good, and tech support is a must. New telco Mate Communicate steps up to the plate with a range of ADSL2+ plans and NBN plans that meet these needs. Firstly, all their plans are uncapped. Second, they’re all month-to-month with no contract. Third, they don’t charge any plan-change fees. A good pick would be the $59/month Yeah Mates Plan, which offers a 50mbps connection (standard evening speed of 2–50mbps). If the NBN isn’t in your area, they offer the choice of their City Mates ADSL Plan starting at $39/month or their Country Mates Plan for $49/month. These both require an active phone line on the Telstra network to work. If you choose to bundle your phone line with Mate, these come out to $59/month and $89/month accordingly, but they also deliver unlimited local and national calls, with calls to mobiles charged at 40c/minute. Getting help from a Mate — not a bad way to start out!
Know your limits? Try Dodo
Well known for its budget offerings, Dodo’s internet plans are some of the cheapest around. But while low-cost has its place, these deals come at a different cost. Namely, they’re only available on a 24-month contract — also, the caps are super tiny. As a prime example, their 50GB NBN plan costs just $39.90/month, with free WiFi modem rental. But that’s on the lowest speed tier (NBN 12) with a typical evening speed of 11Mbps. To bump up the speed you need to choose the “unlimited” plans, and the turbo option (NBN 25, typical evening speed 24Mbps) which has a cost of $69.90/month. The low-cost ADSL2+ plan is just $24.90/month but doesn’t include line rental, and the unlimited version is just $29.90/month. All plans are available month-to-month, but you incur a $99 “connection” fee for that freedom. If you know your usage will fit in under 50GB/month, or if you’re okay with ADSL2+, then this is an excellent budget choice.
Growing fast? Try Belong
Death and taxes may be a staple of modern life, but in business, the biggest constant is change. For small businesses, change is a constant challenge. One month you might have little more than client emails to keep you busy online, the next month might see you on back-to-back video conferences. So you need a flexible broadband plan that can meet these changing circumstances. Belong might be your best bet, letting you customise your broadband plans over time. For example, the Standard Plus NBN Plan, which offers 100GB of data with typical evening speeds of 30Mbps, is just $60/month for 12 months. Don’t want a contract? No worries, it’s just $5/month more to go contract free. Want a faster connection? You can jump up to the premium speed (60Mbps) for another $20/month. Unsure if 100GB is enough? Upgrade to unlimited data for just another $10/month. With Belong, you can change your data allowance at any time (but only once a month). And it’s the same with ADSL2+ — although the prices start at $55/month.
Working remotely? Want local service? Try Southern Phone
If you’re working from a regional area, you may find it difficult to give your business the broadband it needs. The NBN rollout is a slow and steady process, after all, and ADSL2+ only really works if you’re close to an exchange. In these cases, Southern Phone’s broadband plans might be the way forward. Offering both NBN and ADSL connections, Southern Phone plans go above and beyond to get you connected. For regional businesses operating in areas that aren’t serviced by ADSL or the NBN, they offer their NBN “Sky Muster” Satellite Plan. The standard option gives you a 25/5 speed tier. Small businesses will probably want at least 120GB of data, which is just $50/month on the Satellite Medium Broadband Plan. You’ll need to supply your own WiFi modem (or buy one for a one-off $99 cost) but the satellite dish and installation is all done at no cost to you. In metropolitan areas, $70/month will get you their NBN Unlimited Plan on the turbo 50/20 speed tier, which includes unlimited data and a free WiFi modem. For ADSL connections, Southern Phone’s ADSL Large Plan will net you 1000GB and a free WiFi modem for $70/month. Best of all, Southern Phone operates a local call centre — so if you have any questions or queries, you can call with confidence, knowing your call won’t be shifted overseas.
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Growing your business? Telstra has you covered
Purely focused on giving businesses the internet they need, Telstra’s broadband packs are rock solid. Even their lowest tier NBN offering (S) includes 500GB of data per month on a 40/15 speed tier. This comes in at $80/month on a 24-month contract. While not the cheapest plan on this list — nor the most flexible — it gives small businesses the edge they need to grow without distraction. If you’re involved in moving large files or regularly need to schedule video calls, their larger plans (M and L) offer 1000GB for $100/month and unlimited data for $125/month respectively. You can BYO modem, or get a Telstra Smart Modem for $240. ADSL deals are priced the same with the same limits, but the speed is dependant on your location from the nearest Telstra exchange.
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Always Compare for the Best Deals!
As you can see, there’s a lot of variety out there when it comes to internet plans for small businesses. While heartening, it can take a bit of work to find the plan that works best with how your business operates.
The best way to make sure you’re getting a deal that matches your needs is to compare what’s out there. If your contract is coming to an end — or if you’re on a month-to-month plan — don’t be afraid to shop around. Take note of the features and rates that suit your professional needs. Consider giving a provider a call before you commit — you never know what they’ll throw in to sweeten the deal!
And of course, feel free to ask anything you like in the comments below!