A Small Business Guide to Bonded Broadband
Chris Marling of Broadband Genie, talks about the 'postcode lottery' of broadband
If you’re a rural broadband customer, or one living in a town as yet to be blessed with Virgin Media’s cable or an upgraded BT fibre exchange, broadband can be a sore topic. It’s a real postcode lottery: while some are enjoying broadband speeds close to 100Mb, many others can struggle to get more than 2-3Mb.
While this can simply be an inconvenience for consumers, increasingly businesses rely on a good internet connection to stay competitive. If you need to upload or download a lot of data, have multiple simultaneous connections or rely on high bandwidth services such as video streaming, your business’ efficiency can be seriously compromised.
The Bonded Basics
In the simplest terms, you can think of bonded broadband as ‘bonding’ several individual phone lines together to make one faster ADSL broadband connection. So, if your broadband has a maximum speed of 8Mb, bonding two lines can almost double your top end speed. Better still, you don’t have to stop there; bonding multiple lines (up to four with providers such as Eclipse) can almost double that again.
Another advantage is that you’re adding peace of mind too; while the lines are bonded for speed they still exist as separate entities. This means that if one of those lines goes down your connection will slow down a little, but keep powering on regardless.
Set up is quick and painless too, in my experience; I tested bonded DSL in my home for several months and was really happy with it. I’d been getting speeds around 6Mb from my dated exchange (which I can see out of my window!), but my two-line bonded connection was regularly putting out speeds in excess of 13Mb.
So What’s the Catch?
As you’ve probably already guessed, extra lines mean extra costs. You’ll need a separate phone line for each bonded line, each of which will have its own line rental. Of course many businesses will already have multiple telephone lines, so this won’t always be an issue.
You’ll probably be looking at a setup fee (at least £100) as there’s a bit of back-end work to be done, while your monthly fee for the bonded line is likely to be close to £100 per month for a dual line, rising the more you attach. However, if you can then use your broadband for services such as video conferencing you may find some considerable cost savings too.
Paying a premium also means you should enjoy top level customer support, as well as strong upload speeds and more generous download limits than you’d expect on a standard business package – especially useful as you’ll now have a chance to actually download enough data to trouble those limits!
Having used bonded broadband it’s easy to evangelise for it. However, the cost can seem excessive for the amount of extra speed you’ll receive. Your decision is probably going to be a business, rather than financial one; if you need better broadband from a poor telephone exchange, this can be a very viable solution.
For example, you’ll struggle to stream video consistently with an average speed that dips below 3Mb during business hours – a reality for a lot of rural businesses. What value do you put on being able to pretty much guarantee those speeds? If it’s going to make you competitive, it could well be a small price to pay.
Chris Marling writes on behalf of the broadband provider comparison site Broadband Genie.