By Tom Rodgers | Monday, December 17th 2018
BT Business Broadband has near-universal name recognition, reasonable pricing and a few extras you can't get anywhere else. But is it any good? We take a look.
With standard and fibre broadband on offer, along with the option to include a static IP address and bolt-on calls packages, BT Business broadband is a popular option for many small to medium businesses. So what else does it having going for it?
BT offers four main business broadband packages, all on 24-month contracts with calls set up on a pay-as-you-use basis as standard. The two entry-level options: Unlimited Broadband and Premium Broadband offer download speeds of up to 17Mbps and upload speeds of up to 1Mbps. Each comes with unlimited data, so you can upload and download as much or as little as your business requires.
For companies that need more speed there are two fibre offerings: Unlimited Infinity or Premium Infinity, again with unlimited data. You get download speeds of up to 76Mbps and uploads of up to 19Mbps.
Each package gets you BT's Guest Wi-Fi. This handy add-on boosts security by providing Wi-Fi access to guest users over a secure network that is entirely separate from your company network. This means you can provide your customers or office staff with free unlimited access to BT Wi-Fi and all without sharing your Wi-Fi password or log-in details. Guest Wi-Fi also automatically blocks any malicious or illegal content from your network for extra peace of mind.
In terms of business email, BT Business Email Lite is included by default. That gives you 1GB of hosted email space per user with POP access, all powered by Microsoft Office 365. There are options to increase the amount of hosting space all the way up to 1TB per user and add online access to Microsoft Office apps, but you will have to pay extra on top of your standard monthly contract.
By joining BT you'll be given the option of downloading the BT Wi-Fi app, which means you can access 5 million free BT Wi-Fi hotspots in supermarkets, airports and city centres across the UK. Free Wi-Fi can be a godsend if you're travelling for business, so this is a definite benefit.
The two Premium-branded BT Business broadband options cost a little more but come with a raft of useful extras, some of which are exclusive to BT. These include 4G Assure, a nifty piece of tech which switches your broadband connection over to 4G when speeds are slow. You won't get that anywhere else.
There's also the option of getting a static IP address, which means you can access your computer from anywhere in the world: very important if you have freelance or remote workers. BT Device protection is also included in these Premium options, so that gets you virus and malware support from Symantec for up to three business laptops, mobiles or tablets.
As a bonus, the final Premium extra is access for up to two devices to the BT Sport app. While not strictly a business application, it's always nice to get something for nothing so sports fans, take note.
One important point to mention is that none of the BT Business packages available here come with SLA (service level agreements) to keep your business online. If there is a problem with your broadband you will be offline for as long as it takes to resolve the issue – this could be a matter of hours, or days.
Oddly, BT Business packages do not automatically include line rental, but you will still have to have a working phone line with another provider. However, if you buy a BT Business broadband package, it comes with line rental, and is considerably cheaper.
You can add a simple package of unlimited UK calls to mobiles and landlines to any BT Business Broadband deal. Calls are free for the first 60 minutes after which time you'll pay a per-minute fee. If you're likely to be on the phone for long periods of time, you can get around the charge by hanging up just short of the hour and re-dialling.
BT's standard speed broadband - with up to 17Mbps downloads and up to 1Mbps uploads - may be enough for sole traders, or for small businesses with only one or two employees. However, BT's fibre offerings - Unlimited Infinity or Premium Infinity – are much more likely to satisfy the needs of today's businesses.
Downloads of up to 76Mbps and uploads of up to 19Mbps are standard in the industry. They're not the fastest you can buy (that's Virgin Media), but they do offer a decent service at a reasonable price point. Just be aware that the advertised speeds are a guide, and not everyone will be able to achieve speeds at all times.
Download and upload speeds will vary depending on how far your business is from the nearest telephone exchange (closer is better), the time of day (usually slower during peak hours of 8am to 8pm), and how many people are using your connection at once.
The standard 17Mbps BT Business Broadband packages can only provide upload speeds of up to 1Mbps. While other providers selling standard speed broadband can manage a bit more, we're still only talking single digits, so upload speeds are comparable with the rest of the market. For fibre services – that's Unlimited Infinity or Premium Infinity – you can get upload speeds of up to 19Mbps which are much more competitive, and may be essential, depending on your business.
Engineers work on green street cabinets to install or switch over your broadband to BT, so you shouldn't suffer any disruption in the office. BT says its minimum lead time to switch over your broadband from another supplier, or to install a new broadband and phone line, will be at least 10 days.
If you already have BT Home Broadband and you're switching to BT Business Broadband, the news is a little better: you could be up and running in five days. You can track the progress of your order on the BT website.
Every new BT Business Broadband customer will receive BT's Business Smart Hub router in the post. It looks very similar to BT's Home Hub router for residential customers, and that's because it is. It offers excellent wi-fi range across your property.
In terms of operating the router, it's pretty much plug and play so there are no complicated options to arrange before you can get online.
BT stakes a lot of its reputation on providing a reliable service for businesses. Quite apart from the sales spiel, you can get a good feel for how reliable a service is on a day-to-day basis by checking BT's page on the independent DownDetector service. There you'll be able to see reports from customers when BT broadband is down, and find out how the business is handling it.
One of the key selling points for BT Business Broadband is the fact that they promise no traffic management nor any fair-use policy for downloading data. This means your connection really is unlimited and sets BT Business apart from the competition.
BT's Service Status page allows you to see if any issues with your phone line or broadband are just affecting you or a whole area. You can also livechat with BT Business and while the connection is rarely instant, you can usually get through to a customer service agent in a matter of minutes.
The key to any successful relationship – business or otherwise – is good communication. When things go wrong with business broadband you want to know that your provider is on your side and you have an account manager willing to bend over backwards to fix your issues.
According to Ofcom's most recent report on service quality, BT Business only offers customers an end-of-next-business-day target time for repairs and fault fixing. This compares unfavourably with other operators so it is worth keeping in mind when choosing your business broadband product.
While BT's home broadband customer service reputation might put off some small business owners, the simple fact is that they have the widest coverage across the UK for business broadband.
It's certainly not the cheapest brand on the market, and upload speeds on the basic packages may be an issue if you work with data-intensive applications on a regular basis. The addition of Premium services which include 4G Assure, static IP addresses, BT Device protection and free access to the BT Sport app should sweeten the deal, though.
There are also features you can't get anywhere else, like 4G Assure and Guest WiFi. So BT Business Broadband is definitely worth a look if you're searching for a new business broadband provider.