“Why should I pay so much for internet service?”
It’s a valid question, especially for small-business owners squeezing as much as they can out of every scarce dollar. With fiber broadband-wired neighborhoods popping up everywhere promising low cost pricing and high speed internet, the choice between business internet vs. residential seems simple. This Quora thread sums it up: residential internet is cheaper, and now it’s almost as good as a business-level connection, so why pay the difference? You have a handful of employees, and they can easily get by on fewer Mbps than MegaCorp downtown. But, is this the right choice for your business?
Saving a few bucks now could end up costing you down the line, since the differences between business internet vs. residential are critical—would you line up at FedEx Office self-serve instead of buying your own office printer? Or have an Uber driver make your client deliveries? The choice is really that cut-and-dried.
Here are the most important factors for your business internet vs. residential consideration:
Residential, and even some business internet providers, keep prices down by offering impressively fast download speeds while glossing over their far slower upload speeds. For streaming movies and web surfing, download speed matters. If you’re creating content and need to get it to clients, upload speed really matters—the same goes for backing up your data offsite. Business internet connections usually offer identical download and upload speeds, known as parity. In residential connections, throttled upload speed is the norm: 20Mbps down, 2Mbps up is a standard package, which would be advertised as “20×2,” or the upload speed left out completely.
Service Level Agreements
A service-level agreement (or an SLA) is a contract between a service provider and its customers stating what services the provider will furnish, as well as defining performance standards. Service providers use SLAs to manage customer expectations, as well as to clarify when they’re not liable for performance issues or outages. By being made aware these parameters, business customers (residential customers usually receive less-binding “best effort” promises) know what to expect from providers, and can compare them to the SLAs of other vendors. SLAs also define means of compensation should the service level not be met, either through credits or a refund.
Business internet connections typically come with static Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, permanent numbers assigned by the Internet service provider (ISP). If it’s not included, you can add a static IP when you set up your service. A static IP address is also known as a fixed address. This is ideal for hosting a web site or email server from your location or for connecting to a whitelisted server so you can use a service that another business provides. Also if you have heating and air conditioning controls or video cameras at your business, you can access these controls remotely with a static IP.
Residential internet connections typically use dynamic IP addresses that are temporary and change each time the computer or device accesses the internet from your network. Your ISP will set this up so it happens automatically using a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). When it comes to security, both dynamic and static IPs are comparable, as long as you have a good security program or firewall installed.
The lowest cost shouldn’t be the deciding factor in the business internet vs. residential debate. Think about what your business could lose in the event of an internet slowdown or, worse, a complete outage. The initial savings of going residential could easily be wiped out by loss of connectivity and productivity, and it might end up costing you even more in the end. It won’t, however, cost you anything to compare business internet features and pricing besides a few minutes of research into what might be best for the future of your business. To help get you started, you can learn more about Verizon Fios for Business at go.verizon.com/business/fios.
Business internet speeds tend to be anywhere from two to five times faster than those of residential connections, meaning more people can get more done, more quickly. Twenty employees sharing a 5Mbps residential-style connection at the office can makes little financial sense when you’re counting on it to help complete transactions and make you income. And, as annoying as the dragging downloads and eternal uploads of a slower residential connection can be for you, they’re even more tedious for your customers. It may predate the internet, but the old saying “time is money” still holds up.
*Griffith, Eric. “The Fastest ISPs of 2017,” PCMag, June 2, 1027. https://www.pcmag.com/article/353936/the-fastest-isps-of-2017