Are Slow Internet Speeds Costing UK Businesses?

There are very few businesses nowadays that don’t need broadband for at least some part of their operation. From cloud-based server space right down to receiving emails via a smartphone, internet access permeates everything we do. But just how fast do you need it to be? This is very much a horses-for-courses area and it’s very difficult to generalise, but there are some universal truths we can look at.

Productivity and happiness

The sad truth is that many of your staff will probably have a better internet connection at home than you do in the office. And, to make matters worse, they’re probably sharing it between less users too.

Poor broadband is going to make both you and your employees miserable as well as less productive: you need emails, online documents and websites to be visible instantaneously; video chat needs to be reliable, while downloading files can’t take all day. A good connection will mean less frustration and less waiting, which is good for both staff sanitary and workflow.

What you can do now

If you are receiving slow internet speeds, the first thing to do is get to the root of the problem: you may be getting slow speeds because you’re paying for a poor service; have faulty equipment; have a line problem, or all of the above. All internet providers are obliged to tell you what speed you should get to your premises by using their service – you can either call them, or most have a postcode checker on their website.

On a slow or small broadband package

First, check your bills to make sure you’re not exceeding your monthly limits. Sounds simple, but you may be using too much broadband each month, which can lead to ‘traffic shaping’ (which basically translates to your speeds being capped once you exceed your monthly limit).

If you’re getting the speeds you should but it simply isn’t fast enough for your needs, your options are to pay for more lines (lessening the amount of users sharing each one, which should increase the experience for all users) or moving to a better service (where available).

This can be significant, if you consider old ADSL broadband has a top possible speed of 24Mb, compared to super-fast broadband (such as BT fibre optic) which can be up to four times faster. Even if you can only get ADSL lines from your telephone exchange, these can be bonded together by ISPs such as Eclipse to give faster connections (this can be expensive, however).

Broadband problems

If you’re not getting the performance you should, your broadband provider should step up and make sure the issues aren’t at their end. If they’re sure they’re not, you’ll need to take a good look at your own hardware.

For example, do you have a router that can cope with the mount of connections you’re trying to put through it? Have you tried to change the frequency of the Wi-Fi signal? Have you checked the router is plugged into the master socket (installed by the phone provider) and not an internal extension? Are your micro-filters working correctly (the little box splitting your phone and broadband cables)?

Chris Marling is senior editor for Broadband Genie, the consumer advice website for broadband, smartphones and tablets. Chris has been a journalist for more than a decade as a writer, sub editor and web editor. For the last five years, Chris has been working in the tech press, specialising in broadband and mobile phones.