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Basic WiFi Isn’t Enough—Why You Need Business Internet

Aug 17, 2023 | Solutions

Consider every possible moment that your business relies on an internet connection each and every day. Every business, small or large, needs access to good, reliable and secure internet. That means your plan must offer the right bandwidth, speed and security features for every device, and residential internet and WiFi isn’t the answer—businesses require better functionality and security to operate. The solution is evident: business grade internet and business grade WiFi for the win.

Every individual, business, company and organization has to utilize the internet in some capacity. Whether it’s to communicate with peers or colleagues, check emails, do copious amounts of research, you name it. Think about how many times you use the internet or WiFi throughout your day. Chances are you’ve probably lost count because the need to stay connected remains rather consistent. When you’re at home, in the office, or even in public spaces, you utilize WiFi for probably everything. Having a safe and secure internet connection is a given to most people but this importance is even further emphasized when you own or operate a business or organization.

Residential Internet & WiFi Won’t Cut It for Your Business

From sending emails and messages to updating or sharing cloud-based documents, the internet allows us to perform countless business functions. Your phone system might even operate on the internet if your business utilizes VoIP (voice over internet protocol). When considering all of the projects, tasks and documents that your business manages using the internet, having speedy and secure internet and WiFi is key, so that your business can avoid any cyber threats.

With these considerations in mind, one can see how normal internet or WiFi wouldn’t cut it for businesses. “Residential” internet and WiFi, also known as “consumer grade,” is the typical internet connection found in most homes. It works well for at-home internet use but doesn’t offer the necessary features that can actually support and protect your business operations, which we’ll elaborate on shortly. Standard internet and WiFi comes with lower connection speeds and that’s not all, and although the lower price might be appealing at first, you sacrifice quality of service as well as security, and these sorts of restrictions don’t make the savings worthwhile.

Comparing Residential vs. Business Grade Internet

Both internet options, whether residential or business, will give you the same thing in the end: access to the internet but keep in mind that not all access is the same. We can compare it to something as simple as choosing to take a different path to your destination. One road might be filled with traffic, stop signs or lights, another might be more direct but on the other hand, it could be riddled with potholes or maybe the scenery isn’t all that interesting. It’s true that sometimes companies will offer packages that could be different in perception but not all that different in its offerings (aka features) but in the case of business internet and WiFi, that’s not the reality. The offerings are, in fact, very different and they’re reflected in the price tag. In this case, you do get what you pay for.

Residential internet and WiFi is essentially the standard across most homes. It comes in a basic package with restricted upload and download speeds and only best-effort service. 

“A “Best Effort” service is one which does not provide full reliability.”

Business internet and WiFi, on the other hand, might be more expensive but is packed with features that’ll actually work to benefit your company. This includes not only faster internet speed but also a service level agreement (SLA), a static internet protocol (IP) address, and improved customer service.

Residential and business internet have different purposes. Residential internet and WiFi has a top priority to offer users connection to more leisure activities. This includes things like online games, social media, and streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu and all the rest. Secondary on the list of priorities is access to business services, like Gmail and Google Workspace, for example. The order of importance differs for business internet and WiFi. 

Business Internet Is Truly Your Own: A Static IP Address

When you use business-grade connection, your internet service provider (ISP) assigns a static internet protocol (IP) address. Residential internet, on the other hand, has a dynamic IP address. What does this mean exactly and why does it matter? Your IP address is the unique identifier of a device/computer using internet protocol to communicate over a network. A static IP address can never change, so your business can host the network with its server, devices, and such. Static IPs are easier to manage for businesses and allow users to configure and set up their devices without having to worry about changing IP addresses.

It’s important to note, however, that static IPs have their drawbacks. They are vulnerable to cyber threats, like hacking or spoofing, because they don’t change. Threat actors might target static IPs over dynamic IPs because they are easier to track and keep an eye on. Having a firewall, encryption, and other important cybersecurity tactics in place will help protect your static IP. 

Differences in Internet Speeds

A big factor of internet connectivity has to do with speed, measured in megabits per second – mbps. Residential internet and WiFi works at anywhere between 1 and 25 mbps, which is substantially slower than business grade internet speeds of 1,000 to 2,000 mbps. Note: Business internet speeds vary from provider to provider.

Source – Business Internet vs Residential Internet – 1Wire Fiber 

Residential internet and WiFi also operates on asymmetrical speed, meaning that it prioritizes the download speed but never the upload speed. Businesses, on the other hand, don’t  have free time to sacrifice, and most of them would find it preferable to have upload and download speeds that match. If employees need to upload big files, or even multiple files at once, as part of their job, then a slow upload speed certainly won’t be of much use to them. They could be watching the wheel on their computer monitor spin, as they wait for the upload to complete, potentially preventing them from moving onto other tasks.

Source – Business Internet vs Residential Internet – 1Wire Fiber 

Service-Level Agreement

When purchasing business internet, the customer and service provider will create a service-level agreement (SLA). This is a commitment between both parties that explicitly lays out the expectations of the service being provided. If the business internet doesn’t live up to what is in the agreement, the SLA may include any remedies or penalties, or allow the customer to back out of the contract.

This is more important for business grade customers who have specific expectations and requirements for their network. The SLA should clearly state the metrics and responsibilities of the ISP, providing a basis for how effective the network will be. As with many business transactions, having this documentation of what each party requires and expects helps operations run smoothly and assures that the customer is getting what they need. This way, your company can explicitly lay out its requirements and what it expects from their business grade internet and WiFi.

Source – Tech Target 

Customer Support

Users will get different levels and availability of support with residential and business-grade WiFi. The SLA will typically cover longer hours of customer support, so no matter when there are internet issues, your business won’t have to worry. While all residential customers get the opportunity for support as well, it might not compare to business grade customer support. Wait times might be longer, which is a huge issue for businesses. Maintaining uptime and efficiency is essential for all companies, so if your network is down or WiFi is slow, you want it resolved immediately. Having business grade support means your priorities will be understood and set straight.

However, Cost Can Be a Drawback of Business Grade Internet

All of the benefits of business WiFi seem great: better speeds, good customer support, a static IP, more ownership over your network, etc… But a huge drawback is the price, especially for small startup companies. Residential WiFi is definitely cheaper than business internet, but at the same time, you are getting what you pay for. If you take a look at the pricing from any ISP, you can surely see the differences in pricing. Residential WiFi, however, will not give you the same benefits that business internet offers. 

Benefits of Business Internet; It’s Better Than Residential WiFi

Better Connectivity

Internet service providers (ISPs) understand that WiFi traffic can require a lot of bandwidth  for businesses especially. Your small-to-medium sized business might have anywhere from 5 to 200 users working on the same WiFi network at any given time. While there’s a finite amount of bandwidth available, connectivity remains essential for all employees. For that reason, business grade internet and by proxy, business grade WiFi, can accommodate these high-speed needs, so that all users on the same network can work efficiently. If your business was to utilize standard consumer-grade WiFi, it would fail to accommodate multiple users. Speed will decrease, as the amount of users on the network increases. Business internet allows for higher speeds and better connectivity, so that your employees can always be online, eliminating lag and therefore, the wait time in between working on a slower connection.

Businesses Need Security & Residential WiFi Doesn’t Offer Nearly Enough

Enterprise internet and WiFi takes security one step further to truly protect your business. Companies always have to take the right precautions to prevent access from unauthorized users. Unfortunately, the risks and intensity of cyber attacks are only increasing. Businesses face threats like ransomware attacks, malware, and other cyber attacks that can lead to data breaches, financial loss, and more. Industries that deal with confidential data regarding clients have to be especially careful to stay in compliance with any federal regulations. This includes services like healthcare and financial/accounting businesses as well.

business wifi has features that help to prevent cyber attacks
Source – GraVoc 

With business WiFi, you will have an extra layer of security to protect your network. As mentioned before, having a static IP address means increased safety for your network, as your business can control who can access the network. Business grade internet also has added security measures like Adaptive Radio Management (ARM), heightened WPA-Enterprise (WiFi Protected Access) security, and 802.1X authentication protocol. This network protocol is a method that provides authentication for devices trying to access a local area network. In this method, the network switches and access points will hand off verification processes to a specialized server. This ensures that device authentication on a server is well-managed and constantly updated. If an outside user tries to access a network running on business internet and WiFi, 802.1X authentication works to authenticate and ensure that only verified users can access the internet. 

Expandability Is Great for Small Businesses

Business internet and WiFi gives companies the ability to utilize multiple access points, which can help with expandability in the long run. No matter the size of your business, having business internet will make it easy for all employees to get access to the WiFi network. Similarly, if your business is looking to grow or expand in the near future, you can easily expand your WiFi network by simply adding another access point to your network. It’s as easy as that!

A Note About WiFi vs. Ethernet

WiFi stands for wireless fidelity and is a standard of wireless internet protocols that allow users to access the internet without a physical, tethered connection. Ethernet, on the other hand, uses physical network (Ethernet) cables and wires to a local area network (LAN). The hardwired contact between each device/computer and the network means less interference over the network. Ethernet is safer than WiFi connection in many cases, simply because it’s more difficult for outsiders to interfere with the network. Data on an Ethernet network is only accessible with that hardwired, physical connection. On a WiFi network, information travels through the air, so it can be more easily intercepted.

However, ethernet is also less convenient and it’s certainly not mobile, since devices need to be physically plugged into the access point. Your office must be designed or formatted to accommodate that need, and even with that, the lack of mobility still might pose a slight disadvantage. However, it’s worth making note of this: if we had to choose between the two, we’d always choose ethernet over WiFi, everytime.

Wireless or Wired Internet for your Business 

Some businesses may choose ethernet over WiFi or vice versa depending on their individual needs. Companies might even choose to incorporate both WiFi and ethernet into their business, especially if they deal with public services. They might create a public WiFi network for clients to access, while keeping all the business-related devices connected to the LAN via ethernet. This provides the business with more security, and this way, they can limit any interference on the network that might be a liability. 

Do You Need Business Internet and WiFi? Setting up Your Small Business Network

Whether your business has two employees or 200, having business internet access is a fantastic idea. There are so many benefits to business grade internet, and overall, it can help make your company operate more safely and efficiently. But is it the right move for you? Well, a huge disadvantage of business-grade internet and WiFi is the cost: it will be more expensive than residential internet and WiFi. However, when looking at the long term, it will be a great investment, if and when your business starts to grow. If your business does a lot of video-conferencing, utilizes a VoIP phone system (that operates via internet connection), and requires download and upload speeds that match (to assist with large file transfers, for instance), having business grade internet is a must. 

There’s a lot that goes into creating, establishing, and maintaining your small business IT network, especially your business internet connection. Some of the things to consider include budgeting, physical location, available space, current infrastructure, and the size of the company itself. First, evaluate what your business has now. What’s the current internet and WiFi situation? What’s the office layout like? Where can you put routers, switches, and access points? With questions like these in mind, you can start considering the best solution for you. Keep in mind things like budget and the size of your business. You’ll need to accommodate based on such factors.

business network with ethernet and wifi connection

We Can Help With Your Small Business Internet & WiFi Needs

Having a good managed service provider to help you with your business internet and WiFi set up is important. At Computero, we understand that your business needs always come first. We work with our clients to create the best solution based on things like budget, current IT infrastructure, as well as their business goals. This way, you can create the best business internet network for your company. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

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