The ways businesses connect with customers, other firms and government is changing. Customers now expect to be able to deal with companies they do business with online, suppliers often have electronic ordering systems, and some government departments now require reporting to be done through online portals. It's no surprise, therefore, that in 2014, nearly 95% of Australian businesses had access to the internet. Unfortunately, a new internet connection can take some time to install; wait times for standard ADSL connections are about 10 working days, and for connections to the National Broadband Network (NBN), up to four weeks.
For many businesses, going without internet for this amount of time is not an option. Here are some tips on ways to stay connected while you are waiting for your internet to be installed.
While the nation's largest telecommunications company, Telstra, retired its dial-up services in 2015, a number of internet service providers still offer a dial-up option. Years ago, a complimentary dial-up connection was frequently offered as a gesture of goodwill to those customers facing a long wait for ADSL provision, but generally, businesses now need to ask for this instead of being offered by default.
Dial-up is an inexpensive option for maintaining a basic internet connection while waiting for faster speeds to arrive, but be warned that despite advancements in technology, dial-up speeds are still capped at 56kbps. That's nearly 27 times slower than a basic ADSL connection, so be prepared for a long wait.
'Tethering' is sharing your smartphone's internet connection to other devices by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. One advantage of tethering is that it requires no further hardware to set up—simply connect your smartphone to the computer through which you wish to access the internet, and browse away. If your smartphone is 4G-enabled, speeds should be roughly similar to a residential ADSL connection. A downside of this option is that phone data can be very expensive, so if you have many computers to connect, this may not be a viable choice.
Wireless broadband, which also operates using the mobile phone network, is a cheaper option than tethering for businesses with several computers. Generally, depending on the internet service provider you choose, you will receive a mobile broadband device that enables the internet connection to be shared across several other devices through USB or Wi-Fi. Again, speeds should be roughly similar to a residential ADSL connection.
While this option is cheaper than purchasing additional data on your mobile phone plan for tethering use, be aware that many internet service providers will only offer this service on a 24-month contract. Look out for 'no lock-in contract' offers when comparing providers to ensure you do not have to pay a contract termination fee when your wired connection is ready to go.
Although waiting weeks for a new internet connection for your business can be frustrating, there are a number of options for staying connected during this period. While speeds generally increase for businesses willing to pay more, a temporary connection doesn't have to break the budget, as even basic dial-up speeds are suitable for firms with minimal internet usage.