Internet providers will want to provide your business with the highest internet speed possible, whether you use it or not. But what internet speed will you need for your business? And how will you know if you are actually getting the speed you pay for?

What internet speed do I need?

When considering the internet speed for your business, your prime consideration will probably be to not pay for more than you need, while at the same time wanting to ensure that your staff have adequate enough speed to do their jobs. Here are some of the ins and outs of internet speed, so you can make an informed decision.

Upload and download speeds

Internet speeds are given as two speeds in megabits per second (Mbps): one for downloading and one for uploading. Your download speed relates to the images, videos and content you need to download from the internet in order to view online content. And upload speed relates to the files you need to send, or ‘upload’; from sending an email to posting photos on social media, and backing-up files to the cloud.

Test your current speed

If you already have internet, before you look into switching providers or changing your provision in any way, it’s a good idea to test your current internet speed to see what you’re currently getting. If your current supply is inadequate then this will give you a good starting point to go up from. Check your bill to see your plan, and what you should be getting, then run a test in seconds by visiting a site like Speedtest. To get an average speed, test it every day for a week and work out the average from your recorded readings.

What do you use the internet for?

Activities such as streaming video content and gaming need a higher Mbps than a lot of other applications. But if you have a small office of a handful of employees, you will probably get away with a low speed of, say, 5 Mbps. However, keep in mind that cloud services, any VOIP telecoms, data backups and collaborative online working and file sharing, will need additional Mbps.

If you’re a large company with many users, using specialist software, carrying out video editing, and working online to collaborate and communicate, with regular data backups, you are going to need a vast amount more internet speed than a small office. In this case 5 Mbps won’t be nearly enough.

Types of broadband

Most broadband is delivered over traditional copper cabling. But super-fast fibre optic is available, which will also deliver identical upload and download speeds. And there are part-fibre optic options available too, depending on your area. Always keep in mind too that speed will depend on the local coverage available, and factors such as how far away you are from the server.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can travel along a specified path and is also measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Bandwidth is like the number of lanes on a motorway; it’s a fixed measure of capacity, and one that you share with others on your line. Unless you have your very own fibre optic leased line you will share this bandwidth capacity with other local users.

This is a consideration for many businesses, so to save you from having to work when everyone else is asleep, when you can have all that bandwidth to yourself, make sure you get adequate bandwidth in the first place.

Start with what you need

Internet providers will always want to sell you more speed, so it would never hurt to start with what you think you might need and see how you go, as you’ll always be able to increase your plan. Keep in mind that you would always need to review your provision regularly anyway. Your business is not static, and neither is the technology serving it. Flexible deals and plans, and better connections, bandwidths and speeds will always become more readily available.

If you need help assessing more accurately what internet speed your business will need, speak to your IT support or internet provider to see what options are available to you. And remember, you can always get more speed if you need it, but at least you’ll be a bit more clued up about the facts, and terms providers use to describe your options.

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