Business broadband 2019: who’s leading the field?

woman sitting at a computer desk facing opposite another computer desk which shows two figures on the screen

You want the best business phone and broadband service for your company without breaking the bank, right? But who are the most reliable business internet service providers? How do you know where to find the best deals? You also want the best customer service from your broadband provider, since you don’t want to be without internet access if your income depends on it. Read our guide to the best business broadband to help you make the best choice for your company.


BT business broadband

BT logo

Every UK household is familiar with BT, the telecommunications giant that has been with us for over 150 years, but what do they provide for business clients?

From small businesses to large public sector organisations, BT has something to offer everyone with plenty of options for online security, firewalls and connectivity. In essence, though, the same phone and broadband deals are available regardless of the size of your enterprise.

BT business broadband comes in ‘Essential’ and ‘Enhanced’ plans. WIth the Essential packages, you have the option to pay extra for a static IP address but it is not included as standard. Since a static IP address is usually indispensable for businesses that have their own website or server, we would not class BT’s Essential package as amongst the best business broadband on the market.

However, BT’s Enhanced business broadband is a different story:

Enhanced standard (ADSL)
24 month contract
Enhanced fibre
24 month contract
17 Mbps download / 1 Mbps upload
  • £32 per month
  • With a phone line £40 per month
76 Mbps download / 19 Mbps upload: £46 per month
  • With a phone line: £55 per month
152 Mbps download / 29 Mbps upload: £60
  • With a phone line: £70
314 Mbps download / 48 Mbps upload: £68
  • With a phone line: £82

Whether you choose standard or fibre, the Enhanced service means fast broadband for your company, plus all of the following features:

  • One static IP address
  • 4G Assure: a form of backup for when the broadband connection fails
  • BT Device Protection: antivirus and security for all your devices
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Guest Wifi
  • Enhanced IT support: PC and server problems solved via remote access from the BT support team

Optional extras include:

  • Five additional IP addresses £11 per month
  • Leased line (also known as Dedicated Internet Access) from £200 per month (up to 10 GB)

BT’s minimum speed guarantee at first glance appears reassuring but turns out to be exactly the same as for residential broadband, i.e. if the connection doesn’t achieve the stated minimum guaranteed speed within 30 days of raising the issue with BT, you *may* be able to walk away from the contract. Why might it be difficult to get out of the contract? Feedback from customers suggests it’s hard to prove to providers that broadband speed is consistently unacceptably slow.

On a more positive note, when it comes to estimating internet speed, BT takes into account peak time for businesses (12:00-14:00), which is clearly different from peak time for residential broadband. BT also has the advantage of wide coverage across the country and it can count on an army of engineers, meaning 95% of faults are fixed within one working day.

Virgin business broadband

Virgin Media logo

Like BT, Virgin Media is well set up to provide a high speed internet service to businesses of any size. However, bear in mind that to receive Virgin Media broadband your premises need to be in a Virgin cabled area so before you can even consider contracting Virgin broadband, check your postcode to see if you are eligible.

Again, like BT, Virgin Media offers an Essential package, which is barely distinguishable from a home broadband package so we’ll concentrate on the more business-oriented plans. For small, medium and large businesses Virgin’s Voom packages will give you superfast cable broadband, static IP addresses and quicker fixes for technical problems.

Here are the key features of all the Voom plans:

  • 350 Mbps download speed
  • 24 month contract
  • £50 installation fee
  • Free router
  • Firewall that lets you set your own security controls and filters
  • Discounts on essential software such as Microsoft Office 365

Each Voom plan has all of the above features plus more:

Voom Fibre 1 Voom Fibre 2 Voom Fibre 3
Dynamic IP address Either one single static IP address or one dynamic IP address Up to five static IP addresses or one dynamic IP address
Upload speed: up to 7 Mbps Upload speed: up to 20 Mbps Upload speed: up to 150 Mbps
48 hour resolution time for technical problems 24 hour resolution time for technical problems 24 hour resolution time for technical problems
£32 per month, add unlimited UK phone calls: £42 per month £45 per month, add unlimited UK phone calls: £55 per month £52 per month, add unlimited UK phone calls: £60 per month

Voom Fibre 3+ has all of the Voom Fibre 3 features, plus 12 hour response time for technical support, a phone service that includes unlimited UK calls, and 32 Gb mobile data, all for £69 per month.

You can add a leased line to any of the Voom deals for between £200 and £400. Here’s the essential info:

  • Virgin business broadband leased line
  • 36 month contract
  • Up to 50 Mbps symmetrical download and upload speed
  • Nine hour response time for technical support

For businesses that depend on reliable connections, Virgin’s commitment to resolving technical issues within specified time limits is a big plus. Their fast upload speeds will also be attractive to companies that need to upload a lot of content to their websites. For instance if the day-to-day activities of your enterprise include live video streaming to your clients or uploading large files then upload speed is an important consideration.

On the down side, customer feedback on Trustpilot is overwhelmingly negative. Virgin Media business customers have complained about poor customer service and routers not performing as promised. However, we would take this with a pinch of salt since this is based on just over 200 people and may not be an accurate reflection of Virgin Media business broadband provision.

Hyperoptic broadband for business

Hyperoptic promises ultrafast connection speeds, and since it is not at the mercy of the Openreach network of phone lines, but instead has its very own fibre optic cables, it stands a very good chance of delivering on those promises.

Here’s a breakdown of their price plans:

Speed: download/upload Contract length Price: broadband only Price: broadband and phone
30 Mbps / 1 Mbps 12 months £50 £60
36 months £40 £50
150 Mbps / 150 Mbps 12 months £100 £110
36 months £80 £90
1 Gb / 1 Gb 12 months £300 £310
36 months £250 £260

With Hyperoptic you can can hold up to 100 conference calls at the same time with no connection problems. If your organisation needs more broadband capacity, there is the option of a leased line for £350 per month at a speed of 100 Mbps, or you can enquire directly to find out the monthly price of a 1 Gb leased line.

We couldn’t find any information about the level of technical support available specifically for business customers but the fact that Hyperoptic offers a money-back guarantee could be a promising sign that they can fulfil their commitments. We also found that you need to make a special request if you would like more than one static IP address.

Hyperoptic's coverage is growing steadily while they are laying their own fibre cables to build a new network from scratch. As a potential business customer, you can request Hyperoptic to install a line to your building if your premises are not already in a Hyperoptic area.

XLN broadband

XLN are specialists in IT solutions for small businesses. In their own words, they offer ‘free broadband, you only pay for line rental’. In line with keeping things simple, XLN broadband plans come in two packages, both of which are 24 months long:

xln logo
  • Standard (ADSL) OR Fibre 76 Mbps: £18.95 per month
  • With unlimited UK phone calls: £23.95 per month
  • Free router

The main difference between the standard and fibre broadband plans is the superior router that comes with the fibre deal. Of course, with fibre you also get the benefit of faster connection speeds at the same attractively low price as the standard broadband.

We couldn’t find any information about the estimated download speed on the standard deal, but it is likely to be around 10-15 Mbps. XLN does not quote any upload speeds nor does it seem to offer static IP addresses. However, since their target market is small businesses it’s less likely that their customers have a need for a static IP address.

A major feather in XLN’s cap is that each of their broadband plans includes free public wifi, so customers visiting your business can get online while they’re on your premises. As a telecoms company, XLN pride themselves on their customer service standards and it’s clearly paying off, with a 4/5 average Trustpilot rating from 5941 customer reviews. The few negative comments we saw were about about prices creeping up before the end of a contract but overall there was high praise for XLN’s fast and efficient technical support.

TalkTalk business broadband

Every TalkTalk business broadband plan includes:

  • Maximum four static IP addresses, first one is £1 per month, then £3 per month after that
  • Free premises move
  • Add 500 minutes of international calls for £500 per month
TalkTalk logo

Talktalk business broadband customers also receive unique Worksafe security software which means you can control access from your network to certain websites and helps to block viruses.

A word of warning: TalkTalk’s pricing structure means that your monthly cost is not the same throughout your contract, except with the standard (ADSL) plan.

Standard broadband only
17 Mbps (download) and 1 Mbps (upload)
12 month contract
£18 per month
Standard broadband + unlimited calls to UK landlines and mobiles
17 Mbps (download) and 1 Mbps (upload)
12 month contract
First 6 months £22.50
Then £24.50 for 6 months
Fibre broadband only
76 Mbps (download) and 20 Mbps (upload)
24 month contract
First 12 months £27.95 per month
Then £29.95 per month for 12 months
Fibre broadband + unlimited calls to UK landlines and mobiles
76 Mbps (download) and 20 Mbps (upload)
24 month contract
First 12 months £30 per month
Then £32 per month for 12 months

TalkTalk business broadband customers have scored the company highly on Trustpilot with an average ⅘ from over 2000 reviews. Some have reported problems with technical issues that have been difficult to resolve but in general customers are very satisfied with the level of support from TalkTalk’s customer service agents.

bOnline business broadband

bOnline logo

bOnline is a multi-faceted IT provider specifically for small businesses, offering not just broadband but also online marketing, website design and cloud phone systems. Unlike other business broadband providers, bOnline offers the flexibility to combine the products that you need for your organisation. For instance, you can choose a broadband plan plus VoIP calls (Voice over Internet Protocol) from around £23 per month without committing to a lengthy contract.

bOnline includes a static IP address as standard. Setting up your broadband with the free bOnline router is straightforward, as are the three price plans:

  • Standard (ADSL) £16
  • Fibre 38 Mbps £22
  • Fibre 76 Mbps £27

With a guarantee to match any other provider’s price and a simple pricing structure, we’re not surprised to see that a huge majority of Trustpilot reviews from bOnline customers rate them as excellent . The reviews speak very highly of the customer service and the efficient way that problems are resolved, although one or two people have commented that the waiting time on the phone could be improved.

Verdict

Wifi router with paper representing a bill

Generally business internet service providers (ISPs) quote prices without VAT so keep in mind that the first price you see is NOT the final cost. Line rental tends to be included but landline phone calls are an optional extra. A wireless router is almost always included as part of the deal but there is usually a charge for delivery.

Business broadband providers do not put any download limits on their internet plans so there’s no need to worry about keeping a check on your usage - all the deals we’ve seen include unlimited broadband as standard.

In terms of internet connectivity, decide what your priorities are and what you are prepared to pay to get the best combination of download speed, upload speed and technical support.

BT offers the biggest range of options for larger organisations, with additional features such as Guest Wifi to keep your customers happy, and security for your devices. In terms of coverage across the country BT also wins hands down.

Smaller organisation will be better catered for by a specialist internet service provider such as bOnline, which provides a more personalised service with a thorough understanding of how small businesses operate. With bOnline’s flexible phone and internet solutions, your business needs could be fulfilled with ease and at a great price.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to business broadband. The best internet deal for your company will be the optimal blend of fast internet bundled with whatever level of technical support and security software that’s right for your enterprise.