How to find the right broadband for your home office

Home Office Broadband

Over one and a half million of us in the UK work from home, and the number is growing rapidly. But balancing out the sheer joy of being able to work in your pyjamas is the knowledge that you no longer have an IT-guy to sort out all your tech troubles.

And the biggest of all these troubles is your broadband: if it goes down, you'll lose money.

Let's take a look at how to find the right broadband for your home office.

What speed you need

Whenever you compare broadband deals, finding the right speed is your first priority. For your home office, any fibre deal should offer fast enough downloads for most needs.

However, you need to consider who else will be using your internet while you're working. If it's just you, then fine. But if your kids are going to be jumping onto YouTube and start FaceTiming as soon as they get home from school, you might want to opt for a faster fibre deal to ensure you won't have any interruptions.

Don't overlook the upload speed, too. You need a good upload speed if you do a lot of video conferencing, or need to send large files to clients. For this reason we'd recommend steering clear of a cheap standard broadband plan, as the upload speeds are usually dreadful.

Reliability and support

When you rely on your internet connection to earn a living you need to be confident that it will work reliably. If there are problems you need access to good customer support to fix them. To make your decision a little easier take a look at our customer reviews for all broadband providers. They show ratings for speed, reliability, support and overall satisfaction.

There's often a link between reliability and support, and price. Cheaper services from less established players tend to attract more negative reviews and lower satisfaction levels. It might be worth paying a little extra for a plan from one of the bigger brands.

Also, keep an eye out for speed and performance guarantees from the different broadband suppliers, which will help you avoid being left high and dry should problems strike. On BT Plus plans, for example, you'll be sent a 4G Mini Hub to keep you connected if your broadband ever develops a fault.

Static IP address

So far, the issues we've looked at are ones that you'd consider when buying any broadband service. Next up is a factor that mostly applies only to a subset of remote workers: the need for a static IP address.

In simple terms, an IP address is the address of your computer on the network. With all home broadband packages it's assigned dynamically, so you get a new one each time you connect. A static IP address means you keep the same address permanently.

Why might you need a static IP address? There's plenty of reasons, like if you're running a server or hosting your own website, or if you need a secure way to remotely log in to your employer's computer systems.

You get a dynamic IP address with all home broadband products and you'll need to check if your chosen provider can offer you a static address instead. As an example, Plusnet will give you a static IP for a one-off fee of £5, but BT won't let you have one on their residential packages. You need to switch to a business plan instead.

Full Wi-Fi coverage

You don't just need to find the right broadband, you need to get it working well enough, too. And that means making sure your Wi-Fi coverage extends to wherever you set up your office. Now, if you're just working from your dining room then you're probably already good to go. But if you're planning to convert your loft - or even your shed - into an office, you should hold off on that trip to Ikea until you're sure you've got your internet sorted first.

Your Wi-Fi signal is less likely to reach into the furthest corners of your house or garden. Even if it does, a weaker signal will mean slower speeds. Grab your laptop and head out to your office location, then use our Broadband Speed Test tool to find out if your connection and speeds are up to scratch.

If it isn't see our guide on how to speed up your broadband for tips on the best ways to extend your Wi-Fi coverage.

Business vs home broadband

Finally, you might be wondering if you need a specialist business broadband package when working from home, or if you're okay with a normal home deal. It depends on what type of work you're doing, and what's specified in your provider's terms and conditions.

BT say that their broadband is only for personal use; John Lewis Broadband say that "occasional home working is acceptable"; while Virgin Media offer the HomeWorks upgrade for £9.99 a month, which adds remote worker-friendly features to a residential plan. In all cases, a residential call plan will be strictly limited to personal use - so don't go setting up a call centre in your kitchen.

Business broadband will get you the option of a static IP address, better customer support - usually 24/7 - and better security options as well. Prices from suppliers like Plusnet aren't all that much higher than what you'd pay for home broadband.

Want more on finding the right internet service for your remote working needs? Check out our full guide to home office broadband.

Posted by Andy Betts on 2019-10-11 14:49 in Features BT Virgin Media Plusnet John Lewis