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The Difference Between Business and Residential Fibre Optic Broadband

Published on 21 November 13
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For modern businesses a basic broadband connection is no longer adequate. Relying on copper landlines to deliver your vital web-based services could leave you struggling to find enough bandwidth to meet the needs of your employees. This is why investing in fibre optic broadband is sensible, since you can not only benefit from faster connection speeds but also lower latencies, which improves performance and minimises lag.

Small businesses may feel like they are in a position which affords them the opportunity to choose between a business broadband package and one which is intended for residential use. But in reality it is almost always a better idea to pick the enterprise-oriented option because of the key differences between these two types of service. So what distinguishes business fibre optic broadband from its residential equivalent? Here is an overview of the most significant variables.
IP Address Allocation

Most domestic broadband bundles come with a dynamic IP address, which means that it will shift over time, which is not really a problem for home users. However, with a business broadband deal you can get a static IP, which remains constant throughout the length of your contract. A static IP is useful for businesses which want to run servers on-site and provide remote access to apps and data which are hosted internally. This can help with mobile and remote working and simplify the process of setting up a VPN.
Contention Ratio

The contention ratio describes the maximum number of users that can share a fibre optic broadband service at the same time. This can be relatively high for domestic customers, which means that during peak usage periods there will be a lot of traffic on the network and thus less bandwidth to go around. Business packages are often endowed with lower contention ratios, so that fewer customers are fighting over the same connection. This makes congestion less likely to stifle your broadband speeds and will be particularly relevant for companies which rely on cloud computing services to host mission-critical apps or provide data storage for backup and recovery. Contention ratios can vary between bundles and providers, so always check to see what each offers before you make a commitment.

Fibre optic broadband comes in two distinct formats, both of which are closely related to one another but still distinguished in important ways. FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) is quickly becoming widely available across the UK and is technically a hybrid of fibre technology and standard copper landline capabilities.

Fibre optic cabling is routed to street-level cabinets, which connect them to the local telephone exchange at superfast speeds. The final few metres of the connection leading up to each premises remains tethered to copper cables, which means that the disruption caused by installation will be minimal.

FTTC speeds on a single line will typically reach 70Mbps to 80Mbps and this is the most popular and affordable option among domestic users. However, for businesses it might be worth spending the extra money to secure full FTTP (fibre to the premises). FTTP extends the fibre optic cabling right up to your building's perimeter, allowing for speeds of 330Mbps or more, with further developments allowing providers to boost theses services even further in the near future.

While FTTP may already be available in your area, for those that have only received FTTC it might be necessary to pay a provider to run the fibre cable just that little bit further. If you have multiple users sharing the same line and your business is growing quickly, then having faster speeds at your disposal might make all the difference.

Security is a major concern for many businesses, particularly in an age when more and more precious data is being committed to digital formats, whether stored locally or kept in the cloud.

Ensuring that your connection is secure will allow you to operate freely without feeling burdened by the worry of malicious exploitation. It is also necessary to secure individual machines with anti-virus software, which could be a costly task.

Business broadband packages are usually well equipped to help you tackle the trials and tribulations of web security, going above and beyond the call of duty to surpass domestic packages in this respect. It is pointless to invest in fibre optic broadband only to have left your business exposed, so make sure that you select a bundle that will help you plug any gaps.
Support & Resilience

Downtime of any kind can be costly for a business, while being nothing but a mild annoyance for home broadband users. This is why enterprise-oriented packages will come with much more comprehensive support services in tow to help prevent prolonged outages from impinging on your ability to operate.

Check up on the reputation of individual companies if you want to find out which one is most likely to keep your fibre optic connection up and running. The quicker that problems can be successfully resolved, the less disruption will be caused. Some packages even include financial support that will cover any lost revenue which was caused by an outage, which could make a business broadband deal an even more valuable investment than you initially thought.

Home broadband services can be relatively rigid, meaning that once you have selected a particular deal you will not have the option to change anything about it until your contract has expired. The same is not true of good business broadband services, which should be flexible enough to accommodate a growing business and adapt to meet requirements as they alter over time. Fibre optic broadband is particularly good at giving businesses a scalable service, because it offers much more bandwidth than older alternatives and means that speed is rarely the bottleneck it once was, particularly for SMEs.

One of the most obvious differences between domestic and business broadband is price, as you will often find that the former is cheaper than the latter. But judging price should not be based purely on the superficial things like the set-up charge and recurring monthly costs, but rather the value which is delivered to your company.

Business broadband is a better value proposition for commercial organisations, because of all the aforementioned inclusions that mark it out as distinct from domestic broadband. So while you might be able to spend less money with a different deal, this might end up costing you more in lost revenue over the course of a contract. You need to take time to choose a broadband bundle, although for businesses it is important to steer your gaze towards fibre optic services that are explicitly targeted at organisations in your position.
This blog is listed under Networks & IT Infrastructure and Telecommunications Community

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