Who can argue with an all-you-can-eat buffet? But anyone who’s trying to watch their waistline knows more isn’t always better. Could the same be true of unlimited data plans? It depends on what your small business needs to be a lean machine. Learn more about how much data your business needs and decide whether it’s time to chow down on an unlimited plan or order up a lighter alternative.
Get on the Band Wagon
“Bandwidth” is at the center of this debate. That’s the maximum amount of data that can pass through a given path. To put it another way, how much information can you receive and transmit through your Internet connection, and how fast can you do it?
That’s important because it determines what kinds of activity your business can support. A lower bandwidth is acceptable if you just want to use email and browse the net, but if you want to stream video or allow real-time updates to customers on their order, you’ll likely need more bandwidth.
Determining Your Need
There are two key factors in determining bandwidth—the number of people using the Internet at any given time and what tasks they’ll be performing. Here’s a relative comparison of some activities:
- Low usage: email, web browsing
- Moderate usage: streaming video, backups, uploading photos
- Heavy usage: large file downloads (emails with attachments), Cloud computing, interactive software (customer management programs), high frequency of Internet financial transactions
MDSi reports the average bandwidth needed for a business can range from 10 to 300 MBps (megabytes per second). Frontier Business has a worksheet that helps you get a more exact estimate for your business.
Remember that your needs will vary based on activity. For example, more people may be online during peak times to process orders, and if you’re video chatting with a prospective client at the same time, you’ll be using more bandwidth. You can decide whether you’ll manage those fluctuations by limiting usage during peak hours or by expanding your bandwidth.
Checking Your Current Usage
Another way to estimate your need is to look at your past usage. Unless you anticipate a change in your activity, this can be a helpful indicator of what you’ll need in the future.
There are several resources to determine your current usage. Speedtest can run a free evaluation on your current system. Most Internet service providers have a webpage that customers can use to check usage and speed. Performance can vary at different times, so you’ll want to run the test multiple times to compare results.
Make sure you’re served the right portion on your internet plate. Assess the kinds of activities your small business performs to help determine what bandwidth you need to operate at peak efficiency.