Internet speed

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Internet Speed: Determining What You Need for a New Business

As you’re getting your new business off the ground, one of your first steps should be picking the internet speed and plan you need. Today, businesses can run nearly every aspect of their operations online, from communication through email and instant messaging to file and data storage in the cloud. Making the right selection—one that provides exactly what you need without breaking your limited startup budget—can be tricky.

To help you identify your internet needs, we’ve put together this handy tutorial.

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Internet speed 101

Before you can select the right speed to meet your business needs, you need to understand a few basic internet terms and how internet speed is measured. When you’re shopping for internet, you’ll find different packages that describe speed in terms of megabits per second (Mbps). This lets you know the rate at which data transfers over the internet.

It’s important to note that there are two different speed measurements to keep in mind as you look at plans: upload speed and download speed. When an Internet Service Provider (ISP) advertises a plan as “up to XX Mbps,” it’s usually referring to the download speed (the rate at which your internet allows for file downloads), whether it’s a document, spreadsheet, video or any other type of file. Upload speed refers to how long it takes you to transfer or send a file to someone else.

As a business, you will probably upload data more often than a residential internet user; therefore, you want to make sure you have the right speed for both sending and receiving information.

Related: 5 Ways to Totally Impress Your Clients on the Phone

The difference between residential and business internet

Because new business owners often have limited budgets, many are tempted to opt for a less expensive residential plan when they first start operations. This decision may save a little money in the short term, but it’s not a sustainable option. Businesses tend to require more flexibility, availability and reliability than residential customers, which is why a slightly more expensive business internet plan might be a better fit.

If the internet goes down at your home, it might be inconvenient, but if your business network goes down, it can cost you money. Business internet plans often include service guarantees for tech support and network setups that exceed what is available to residential customers. Some providers even offer dedicated connections for business clients—ensuring fast, reliable internet that isn’t shared with other subscribers—as well as direct access to cloud storage and other data services.

Determining how much internet speed your business needs

In order to determine the exact internet plan you want, you’ll need to carefully consider the following three factors:

  1. Number of users: Get a good estimate of the number of users working on your business internet connection at the same time. The more users you have on your network, the more data will be transmitted, which will require a bigger plan. If it helps, think of internet usage like traffic—a lot of users online at one time can result in gridlock, which means you want more lanes.
  2. Usage-heavy processes: The next factor to consider is what types of work your business does online. If your employees primarily use the internet to send occasional emails or look up facts, then your company will be okay with a smaller plan than if your staff regularly sends and receives large files. Video and audio files take up the most bandwidth, so if those are a mainstay of your business, you’ll probably need an internet plan that provides larger capacity.
  3. Scalability goals: When selecting the right speed for your business, keep in mind both your current needs and future demands. While 25 Mbps might be ideal for your staff of four, it will be too slow if your company doubles or triples in size. In the event that growth is something you expect in the next few months, you may want to pick a plan with higher offerings or verify that your provider will allow you to upgrade as needed.

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Once you have a good idea of the type of internet speeds that will suit your new business, you can start shopping around for an ISP. Be sure to consider the speeds available and the ISP’s guarantees of service and reliability to make sure you find the best bargain for your internet needs. All of these factors are crucial to laying a successful foundation that will serve your new business as it grows from brand-new startup to established industry leader.

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