18 December 2009
Beware the pitfalls of new broadband
Looking to take advantage of one of the new broadband offers and change suppliers? Make sure you don't get stung in the process. Cost and performance are the main motivators for changing your broadband provider.
A contract instigated several years ago may now look uncompetitive, your system may have been superseded by better products, or poor user and technical support means a move to a new supplier is on the cards.
Most small and medium-sized architectural businesses will be using an ADSL, or cable broadband service. ADSL services are supplied by core providers over BT's copper telephone infrastructure. The core ADSL services that reside in BT exchange buildings can be identified using the Samknows website (www.samknows.com/broadband/checker2.php). These may be sold directly or they may be packaged and resold by a very wide variety of resellers resulting in a bewildering choice.
Most areas of the UK are capable of being served by at least 8MB download speeds and many are capable of 20MB. You can check your existing speed and the maximum speed available on your phone number using Thinkbroadband’s website (www.thinkbroadband.com). If your existing contract is for a speed less than the maximum indicated for your line, it is worth looking at upgrading.
Reliability and customer service are the other key drivers. Business internet service specialists may provide enhanced reliability and customer service but this can be at a price (IDnet 20MB, business premium, £91.43 per month), while some mainstream providers also earn high ratings from their customers at much lower prices (Be Unlimited, 20MB, Be Pro, £21.50 per month).
Having identified a potential new deal on your broadband take a breath and reflect on whether you have thought through all the implications before you sign.
Here is our list to avoid you throwing out your office’s internet connectivity with the broadband bathwater:
- Your domain name: If it is registered with your existing internet service provider you will need to transfer this as well as your internet connection.
- Web and email hosting: Again check where these are hosted and transfer if necessary.
- Fixed external IP addresses: IP addresses are the unique numbers that identify computers on both the internet and your local network. I would recommend that all business users opt for an internet package that allocates you at least one fixed external IP address. It is fundamental to directing inbound traffic to an internal mail server, remote access or a file transfer facility. When you change your internet provider this fixed IP address will change.
- Domain name records: Your domain records may have secondary records that direct sub-domains, like mail.mycompany.co.uk or ftp.mycompany.co.uk to your fixed IP address. Domain name updates take time to propagate so it is worth timing these to happen over a weekend.
- Router: You may be offered a new router for free with your new internet connection. This may not have the correct local IP address for your own network, admin configuration, VPN and port redirection capabilities of your existing router. Conversely you need to check that your existing router is compatible with the enhanced ADSL service you are moving to.
- Restrictions: Check that the service you are moving to has no restrictions on download and upload traffic. Also check lower cost services (often targeted at home users) as some of them block the use of third-party SMTP mail servers.
If you are on the point of changing your office’s internet connection, make sure you know the answers to the above before you throw out the old.
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