Common Business Broadband Terms Explained

By Emma Lewis, bOnline

In today’s digital age, a fast, reliable internet connection is the number 1 thing any small business needs. Whether you’re a small startup, freelancer or established business on the grow, understanding the jargon behind business broadband is essential in making informed decisions about your connectivity needs.

To help, we’ve put together this article to help demystify some of the most common business broadband terms.




Broadband bandwidth refers to the maximum rate at which data can be transmitted over a network connection. It’s generally measured in megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps) and basically determines how much data can be transferred over a particular amount of time.

Businesses that need higher bandwidth, for example those that frequently upload or download large files, stream lots of videos or need to make conference calls, may opt for faster broadband connections for best performance.


Download and Upload Speeds


Broadband download speed is about how fast data is transferred from the internet to your device, whereas the upload speed is the rate at which data is transferred to the internet from your device. Both are measured in Mbps or Gbps and are important factors to consider when choosing a broadband plan.

Businesses that tend to upload large files to cloud storage or host online meetings may need higher upload speeds to maintain productivity.




Latency is the time it takes for data to travel from one point to another in a network. It is measured in milliseconds (ms) and is important for applications that need real-time communication, such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls and online gaming.

Low latency is essential for ensuring responsive and reliable connectivity, particularly for businesses that rely on cloud-based services and video conferencing.


Fibre Optic Broadband


Fibre optic broadband uses fibre optic cables to transmit data at extremely high speeds over long distances. Unlike traditional copper-based broadband technologies, fibre optic broadband is highly resistant to interference and is ideal for businesses with demanding connectivity needs. It’s also strongly recommended to have a fibre optic broadband solution in place in order to support applications like VoIP.

As a side note, most but not all areas of the UK have high-speed fibre broadband at the moment. Openreach is working on rolling it out further this year and next year, in order to better support customers with the landline switch-off.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)


Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) is a telecommunications technology that enables digital, voice and video data to be transmitted over traditional telephone lines. It works by using circuit-switched connections to establish end-to-end digital communication channels between users.

However, with fibre optic broadband technology coming on at pace, ISDN is gradually becoming obsolete, forming part of the landline switch off.


DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) Broadband


DSL broadband uses existing telephone lines to transmit data, offering an affordable and widely available internet solution for businesses in urban and rural areas.

While DSL connections may not offer the same speeds as fibre optic or cable broadband, they are suitable for small businesses with moderate internet usage requirements. However, DSL speeds can be affected by the distance between the business premises and the nearest telephone exchange. Plus, as mentioned, DSL connections are rapidly becoming obsolete due to landlines being switched off permanently from next year.


Cable Broadband


Cable broadband delivers internet access through coaxial cables, typically provided by cable television providers. It offers faster speeds and greater reliability compared to DSL broadband, making it a popular choice for businesses in urban areas.


Service Level Agreement (SLA)


A Service Level Agreement is a contract between a business and its broadband provider that outlines the terms and conditions of the service, including performance guarantees, uptime commitments and support levels. SLAs are important for ensuring that businesses receive the level of service they require and provide recourse in the event of service disruptions or performance issues.


What To Look Out For In A Business Broadband Provider


It’s well worth choosing a business broadband provider (like bOnline) that specialises specifically in small businesses and start-ups. Typically these providers offer tailored customer service, more transparent terms and shorter contracts. Additionally, look for providers with good service level agreements (SLAs) and a reputation for reliability – Trustpilot reviews are an excellent place to start with this.

Don’t forget to also go for bandwidth that will meet the future demands of your business as well as your current needs. Are you looking to take on more staff that will all be streaming or video calling at once for example? Are you also looking to switch to VoIP at some point soon?

Finally, consider pricing structures, contract terms, and any additional services or features that your business needs. This way you’ll stand the best chance of finding a business broadband provider that ticks all your boxes and meets your budget.