Getting the right broadband account

Tips & Hints

Is 300Mb enough for a business broadband account?

Posted 1 August 2002

Over the last few months we’ve seen a lot of businesses sign up for the basic Telstra $59 a month ADSL package. While this is often cheaper and more convenient than a dial-up account it has some drawbacks. The 300Mb free allowance is the biggest problem.

Once you exceed your free allowance you pay 15.9c per Megabyte. While 15.9c per Mb doesn’t sound a lot, it quickly adds up. Plenty of people have found their bills to run into the thousands of dollars. With broadband this is very easy to do.

To help you get a feel for how much Internet traffic you use, Telstra have a usage estimator where you enter how much e-mail, web browsing etc you do and they suggest the best plan for you. Remember though, with broadband you will always use more than you would with a dial up connection.

Even something as trivial as e-mail traffic tends to explode with broadband. On timed dial-up accounts you may only check your mail two or three times a day, on broadband it’s often set to every ten minutes. Everytime somebody checks their e-mail a little bit is added to your usage. A small office could easily chew through a few megabytes just checking the e-mail.

The same goes for program updates, particularly virus and Windows updates. For instance, Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 weighs in at 100Mb. This file alone is a third of your monthly limit, if you have three computers that download that file automatically, there goes your limit. Many programs now try to update themselves automatically when connected, just the program asking if there is a new update will add to your usage.

By far the biggest villain remains staff. Streaming video, huge attachments and peer-to-peer programs like Kazaa will quickly eat up your monthly allowance. Many of these programs will do it without you knowing until you receive the bill.

One of our clients rang up a huge bill because everyone in the office (including the boss) had streaming radio running on their desktops. This stopped as soon as the first bill came in.

When you do get broadband keep a close eye on your usage. There will be a web site you can log into to check your month’s usage. Your provider should warn you as you approach your free allowance, although if you are using it heavily, you may not read the mail until your allowance is already used.

We think broadband Internet for business is great, but we’d suggest getting a 1Gb or higher free allowance. To us, 300mb a month is just too low a limit for most business. Of course, you can change your plans and should do so if you find you’re spending too much.

The Telstra advertisements for broadband make the point that it can be cheaper than a dial-up for many businesses. We’d agree with that, but it’s not true for all businesses. Check your circumstances before deciding to plunge into broadband and watch your usage once you're connected.

PC Rescue Pty Ltd
Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
ABN 082 635 765
ŠTechnology Publishing Australia, 2011