Dan Howdle | January 12th, 2023
If you work from home, are self-employed, or are one of the many who’ve become small business owners in recent years, you might have contemplated your broadband supply, and what business options might be available to you. We’re going to cover what sets apart home broadband and business broadband, whether they are really all that different, and what option might be best for you.
On a practical level, home and business broadband are supplied in exactly the same way. You’ll receive a router in the post, which connects you to the same cable networks, regardless of which type of broadband you have. You’ll pay monthly, and the contract duration is usually about the same.
Where you’ll notice differences between the two is in the range of contracts on offer, the type of customer service available to you, and features related to some of the more technical aspects of your internet service, like your IP address. Sometimes the router you receive will be slightly more advanced too if you opt for business broadband, designed for more connections and larger spaces than the typical home hub.
Home broadband is designed to be straightforward, with packages tailored to certain lifestyles or user habits. Where download speed, upload speed and bandwidth can sometimes be difficult to understand, internet service providers (ISPs) will market their bundles by how many devices can be connected at once, or with examples like 4K streaming, online gaming or social media activity and how many family members can be online at once.
Package sizes and prices are scaled to be fit for purpose, making it easy to find an entry-level broadband bundle, if you only need a few megabits of speed to stay connected for emails and reading.
These bundles will often be enhanced with incentives or bonuses focused on home entertainment and leisure, whether it’s a free trial of a streaming service like Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video, access to services like Xbox Game Pass for up to a year of gaming, or gift cards for high street shopping
Registering for home broadband is designed to be as simple as possible, with streamlined processes and transparent pricing for add-ons. In most cases, you can also manage your account, billing and payments from the palm of your hand with dedicated mobile apps.
Ultimately, simplicity is king in the home broadband market right now. With full fibre broadband available in some places, but not others, the range of broadband services now stretch from 10Mbps all the way up to 1000Mbps. Providers are focused on being transparent and trustworthy so customers feel like they are getting premium service and support, even on lower-tier bundles.
Home broadband customers have several ways to get in touch with customer services if they need support, though what you will find is that most providers only offer direct customer service between specific working hours. This can present issues if you have a fault that happens at night, as your only line of contact may be a support inbox on Twitter.
Business broadband has a misconception of being more expensive than home broadband. Costs certainly might grow if you find yourself entering the medium to large business tier, but when comparing small business broadband to home broadband, there isn’t much between them. Home customers may find some more enticing introductory rates and perks on offer when comparing rates from the same supplier, but small business customers will also find regular deals to help them decide which supplier to choose in the first place.
Registering for and managing your business broadband may be a little less streamlined than home broadband, as business accounts tend to offer a lot more detail around the intricacies of your internet connection, connected devices, and more. Billing can also be more detailed, with Business Manager portals often having more infrastructure than the average home broadband utility app.
One benefit of having business broadband, if you are a small business owner, is that it’s immediately easier to expense your internet supply. With home broadband, or if your business broadband is used for a mix of business and personal use at home, you must calculate the proportion of your broadband bill that can be expensed, according to HMRC.
Most ISPs will offer the option of a static IP address. Think of your IP address like a serial number, used to tell devices apart when they are connected to one another with wifi. Your laptop has an IP address, so does your phone, and your router does too. Usually these IP addresses are considered dynamic, because they will refresh and change over time.
Businesses can use a static IP address to set up their own private servers, either to store internal data, to host their own email networks, or to make co-working with video conferencing more reliable. This is a feature you are more likely to benefit from if you actually have a small business with its own office location. You are really unlikely to need this feature as a home user.
If this is sounding a bit high tech, then you’ll be glad to know that most business broadband providers offer some form of 24/7 technical support. This dedicated customer service operates separately from the teams supporting home broadband customers, which usually means more immediate support, and quicker resolution for business customers.
You might find that with a business broadband service, you get a different type of router than you’d get on a home broadband package with the same provider. The key difference between these types of routers is the number of antennae inside. Business routers tend to have a few more than the typical home hub, allowing for better coverage in a workplace.
If your address changes, providers who supply internet from the Openreach network like BT, TalkTalk and Sky all have easy processes for moving your service. Virgin Media, on the other hand, manages its own network, which does not have the same coverage as Openreach. If your business needs to move, and Virgin Media does not supply your new business address, you will be forced to pay exit fees, which are typically whatever the outstanding costs are for the remainder of your contract
With home and business broadband being similar in many ways, deciding which one is more appropriate for you is based purely on which is more fit for purpose.
With a wide range of bundles, incentives and perks to consider, and straightforward billing, home broadband tends to be the most attractive type of supply when comparing deals.
These packages are designed especially to meet the needs of the household, whether it’s streaming movies and TV, gaming with friends, or searching recipes whilst listening to your current audiobook, home broadband is the way to go for most broadband customers. If your job has flexible working, and you work from home a few days a week, your home broadband supply should be sufficient for most tasks, video calls and more. There’s no need to consider business broadband for these purposes.
Business broadband is a no-brainer if you have a small business that you run outside the home. With prices in line with home broadband, you’ll reap the benefits of having dedicated technical support at hand if you face connection issues, and an advanced router to power your wifi connection.
If you are a sole trader, or you run your small business from home, you could also benefit from switching your home broadband to a business broadband service. It is not unheard of to have two separate broadband supplies at one property, but it isn’t very common. If your line of work sees you working online from home day in, day out, you might find that business broadband is the better choice for you, especially if you need an upgrade to reach higher speeds, to boost your workflow.
It’s common to think that business broadband is much more expensive than home broadband. This may have been true in the past, where business broadband offered faster speeds than home broadband, but this is not the case as much now. Compare any provider’s home and business broadband packages, and you’ll find that prices are mostly similar, as households can now receive the same superfast speeds.
Business broadband may cost a few pounds more per month, depending on the bundle you choose, and this is usually explained by exclusive features like 24/7 customer service and fixed IP addresses.
The speeds you need are entirely dependent on the nature of your business. Most providers define a small business as 1-10 employees. If your employees are mostly completing document-based work and emailing small attachments, you don’t need especially high speeds at all, anywhere between 35-65Mbps will be more than enough.
If you are a sole trader uploading large files, like a photographer or graphic designer, you might want a package with much higher upload speeds, to help you work more quickly. A fibre bundle with ultrafast upload speeds will also typically come with download speeds exceeding 100Mbps, in comparison.
If you are employed and work from home a few days a week flexibly, you probably don’t need business broadband. Most home broadband bundles have adequate speeds for most types of work. We’d only recommend business broadband at home if you work from home full time, as a sole trader, or the nature of your work requires a broadband upgrade.
Yes, not only can you get full fibre at home in a growing number of locations, but full fibre is available to businesses too. Again, whether you need full fibre speeds is dependent on the nature of your work, and you can probably save some money on a smaller bundle if your wifi needs are limited. Full fibre does offer a more reliable connection with less interruptions, which makes it attractive for business use.