Bionic's guide to fibre optic business broadband

Having a fast and reliable internet connection is vital in all areas of our lives, but it’s especially important when running your own business - a poor connection can put a massive dent in productivity if employees aren’t able to quickly share files and video conference without endless buffering.

If your business broadband isn’t quite up to speed, fibre optic could be the answer.

What is fibre optic broadband?

Fibre optic is a type of high speed broadband that runs along fibre optic cables instead of the copper cables used by standard ADSL broadband. Fibre cables offer greater and more reliable speeds, meaning you can do everything you need to on the internet, but faster.

What's the difference between fibre broadband and copper (ADSL) connections?

Speed is the main difference between fibre broadband and ADSL broadband, with fibre cables offering faster and more reliable speeds than their copper counterparts. 

ADSL runs on the same copper cables that have been providing our phone services for decades. These copper cables can carry data efficiently up to a point, but transfer speeds slow down over distance - this is known as ‘attenuation’ and it’s the reason why connection speeds are slower, the further your business is from your local phone exchange. 

When we’re talking about picking up data from servers that could be on the other side of the world, it sounds crazy that the speed at which you get this data can be affected by the last couple of miles of that journey.

Although this can still be a problem with fibre broadband, it’s much less of an issue with fibre than it is with copper cables. The type of fibre broadband you have - FTTC or FTTP - can also make a difference to speeds.

What is FTTC broadband?

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) broadband is the most common type of connection in the UK, providing internet access for 95% of UK addresses. 

Technically semi-fibre broadband, FTTC connections run fibre optic cables from your local phone exchange to on street cabinets, at which point data is transferred to your property via the copper wires used by ADSL connections. 

The reason FTTC connections are so popular is because they are relatively easy to install - engineers only need to run cables to street cabinets rather than into individual properties - but this also means connections aren’t as fast as full-fibre broadband. While FTTC is still fast, the use of copper wires means that speeds can slow down during this final leg of the journey.

FTTC generally offers three maximum download speeds - 80 Mbps, 55 Mbps, and 40 Mbps - but the attenuation caused by the use of copper phone lines means that only properties within 30 metres of a street cabinet can realistically expect to reach these speeds. 

This is why most internet service providers (ISPs) usually advertise top speeds that are between 10% and 15% lower than the actual top speeds available to those properties that don’t see their connections hit by attenuation.

What is FTTP broadband?

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) broadband is currently one of the fastest forms of fibre broadband available in the UK. 

Also known as full fibre internet, FTTP can deliver speeds of up to 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps). This is because the fibre optic cables cover the entire connection, from the exchange to your premises, meaning there’s none of the slow-down associated with using copper cables.

But because FTTP is more difficult to install than FTTC, it’s currently only available to around 5% of UK premises. 

How fast is fibre optic business broadband?

Although speeds of 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) are available, this will only be available to your business if you have an ultrafast connection. If you have superfast broadband, it’s more likely that your download speeds will be between 35Mbps and 60Mbps if you have an FTTC connection, or up to 300Mbps with an FTTP connection.

How can fibre optic broadband help your business?

The faster speeds and greater reliability offered by fibre broadband can help your business in more ways than simply ensuring everyone’s connected.

  • Multi-task on multiple devices - If your business relies on a good internet connection, the chances are you’ll be running multiple devices and applications at the same time. Business fibre broadband allows you to browse the internet, stream video calls, upload large files and carry out any number of tasks, all at the same time on multiple devices.
  • Reliable cloud integration - According to a report from McAfee, the global computer security software company, an estimated 86% of UK business run on a cloud-first basis. This means the majority of the software solutions these most businesses use are designed specifically to utilise cloud computing functionality, such as storage solutions like Google Drive or hosted VoIP products. And fibre broadband is a must to make the most of the cloud without any delays or dropped connections.
  • Increased productivity - The more reliable connection offered by fibre optic business broadband means faster and more consistent speeds than with ADSL, which means less time spent waiting for files to upload or download, and better quality video calls. And although these might only seem like small benefits, they all add up - a study from Sandisk estimated that slow internet could hit productivity to the extent where it costs each employee a full working week every year.
  • Greater online security - Copper cables can be more vulnerable to hackers who use cable tapping methods to steal data and information. Fibre cables aren’t as easy to tap and so offer a more secure connection. Fibre cables are also less likely than copper cables to be affected by electromagnetic interference, which can be caused by heavy machinery being used in close range. 
  • A more cost-effective solution - Although business fibre broadband often costs more than ADSL, it should prove to be the more cost-effective option over time. This is because switching to business fibre broadband means less internet downtime, which means you’re less likely to lose money because of an unreliable connection. Having fibre optic business broadband also offers better compatibility with cloud-based applications, which could also help to save you money.

What’s usually included in a fibre optic broadband package?

As a fibre broadband user, you’ll benefit from faster speeds and a more reliable and secure connection. This will help to increase productivity by allowing more people to use the internet at once, with no impact on connection speeds, and mean your business can fully utilise cloud services and VoIP technology.

As a business broadband customer, you should benefit from the following:

  • Priority customer support to help reduce downtime should anything go wrong with your connection.
  • Business-focussed cyber security, to help protect against hackers, malware and phishing scams.
  • Access to advanced connectivity services, such as a static IP address, web hosting, domain names, cloud storage, or professional business phone lines. 

The exact package you get will depend upon the needs of your business and the provider you choose, so it makes sense to discuss your options with Bionic’s tech-enabled experts. To get in touch, give us a call on 0800 078 3591, or pop your postcode in the box on the right and we’ll give you a call back.

What equipment do you need to use business fibre broadband?

Your internet service provider should set you up with everything you need to run fibre broadband at your business premises, but to make sure you have everything you need, take a look at the checklist below:

  • An active phone line
  • A compatible router or multiple routers
  • A microfilter for each active phone socket
  • A computer with a compatible ethernet port or wireless connectivity 802.11 (B, G or N)

Although your existing router might be up to the job, it’s probably best to get a new router from your provider. Not only are some routers locked so they only work with certain providers, getting a new one will ensure you have the latest tech and it can comfortably handle having multiple connections to your network. You should also be able to ‘hardwire’ up to four computers to your router using Ethernet cables.

Can you claim broadband as a business expense?

Broadband bills are difficult to claim back as a business expense. Unlike business phone bills, which come with itemised bills that can clearly split work calls from personal calls, broadband is typically charged at a flat rate, meaning there’s no way to definitively split work and personal use. 

If you need to work from home, but already have broadband installed at home, then neither you nor your employer will be able to claim it as a business expense. HMRC states: “If an employee who begins to work from home under homeworking arrangements is already paying for a broadband internet connection at home, there is no additional expense.”

If, on the other hand, you only had broadband installed as a result of having to work from home or have to upgrade your existing package - from ADSL to full fibre, for instance - then you might be able to claim it as an additional household expense that can be reimbursed by your employer. For more information, check out HMRC’s Employment Income Manual.

If you’re self-employed, you should be able to claim back your broadband as an expense if you set up a business broadband account in your company’s name, while using your home as a registered office.

How to switch business fibre broadband with Bionic

The simplest way to switch to fibre optic business broadband is to speak to Binoic’s tech-enabled team. Our connectivity experts will cut through the jargon to help you figure out exactly what type of connection and what upload and download speeds you need to keep your business connected. And we’ll have you switched in three simple steps:

  • Tell us about your business broadband needs online - We use smart data to avoid you having to answer endless questions.
  • We’ll speak to you to find the right broadband package - We’ll help you choose the right business fibre, landline and mobile phone products in a short call.
  • You can leave the rest to us - If you decide to switch business broadband with Bionic, we’ll take care of everything for you, and we’ll keep you informed every step of the way.

If you're setting up a new connection, we'll take care of everything for you. Your new provider will contact you to arrange the installation of your broadband connection and then, you're ready to go!

Give us a call now on 0800 078 3591, or pop your postcode in the box on the right and we’ll give you a call back.