Best Business Internet in 2021
Running a business sometimes requires a powerful and reliable internet connection that can handle your employees’ workload and optimize business operations. Faster speeds, no latency during high traffic times, and unlimited data are just some of the features that make business internet an integral tool for business owners. Most people are familiar with residential internet, but internet service providers, or ISPs, also offer business internet for small businesses and large corporations.
When choosing a business internet provider, it’s essential to know the differences between business internet and residential internet. To mitigate your research, we’ve outlined everything there is to know about business internet and which ISPs offer the best internet plans to ensure smooth broadband usage across all facets of your business.
Business Internet 101
Whether you’re a new or well-seasoned business owner, finding an ideal business internet plan is no small feat. Before we dive into the top business internet providers, we’ve listed out several key factors that you should consider as you shop around.
Small Business vs. Large Corporation
Business internet and enterprise internet can be interchangeable, but the latter typically refers to large corporations. Prices and speeds are two significant factors that differentiate small business internet performance from a large corporation’s. Faster speeds are required for large corporations because there’s usually at least 30 or more employees using the same connection. As a result, prices for enterprise internet plans tend to be higher as well.
If there’s one stark contrast between residential internet and business internet, it’s pricing. Business internet is more expensive because ISPs offer additional features and prioritize high speeds and uptimes. Several ISPs offer business internet plans for hundreds of dollars per month for the fastest speeds, but keep in mind that an expensive internet plan doesn’t mean it’s the most optimal for your business.
Like pricing, speeds are dependent on the type of business you run. Generally, large corporations are better off with download speeds of 500 Mbps or higher, while small businesses only need around 75 Mbps speeds. The more connected users or devices your business has, the higher the speeds you’ll need for optimal internet performance. Advertised speeds won’t always reflect the actual speeds you experience — you can perform a speed test to check your current internet speeds.
Most ISPs don’t employ data caps with their business internet plans since there most likely are at least five connected users or devices, which can quickly eat up data every month. The ISPs that incorporate data caps with their business internet plans usually give a generous allowance — around 1 TB or more. If you suspect that your business requires unlimited data, your best bet is a business internet plan with no data caps.
Business internet has the same connection types as residential internet: DSL, cable, fiber-optic, satellite, and fixed wireless. Depending on the location of your business, ISPs may offer more than one connection type.
- DSL: A Digital Subscriber Line, or DSL, is one of the oldest internet connection types out there, but it’s still around and delivers high-speed internet through your phone line.
- Cable: With widespread coverage, cable internet is easily found in populated areas. Data is transferred via existing cable TV coaxial lines and speeds go up to 1,000 Mbps.
- Fiber-Optic: The newest standard of the internet, fiber internet transmits data through glass-threaded strands at light speeds. At the moment, business internet speeds go as high as 1,000 Mbps.
- Satellite: Ideal for rural areas, satellite internet transfers data to and from a dish that’s installed on your house’s roof or balcony. Download speeds aren’t as fast as cable or fiber, but it’s the go-to choice when your business is in the middle of nowhere.
- Fixed Wireless: Although not as common, fixed wireless internet is another option for businesses that don’t want to rely on cable wires. Through radio waves between two fixed cellular towers, an internet connection is born.
While most ISPs require long-term agreements, there are a few that offer contract-free plans. The contract length for business internet ranges between 1-2 years, which is similar to residential internet contracts. As with any contracts, you’ll want to be mindful of early termination fees and other hidden costs. ISPs tend to outline these fees in the fine print, so it’s important to read the terms of service before committing. Automatic renewals, paperless billing, and price guarantees are also worth noting when signing a contract.
Your business might need a phone line to take calls from customers, which is why a bundle is the answer to adding phone service on top of your internet plan. Bundling your internet with TV and/or phone services often saves you a great deal of money compared to standalone plans. Aside from a lower monthly cost, ISPs sometimes offer free upgrades to your services when you choose to bundle.
Statistics on the Business Internet in 2021
Business internet traffic reached approximately 112.7 billion gigabytes this year1, which is almost a quarter times more than 2019. The COVID-19 outbreak led to an 11.6 percent increase in daily fixed broadband consumption between January and March of 20212, especially for businesses that had to shift from on-site to online business operations.
In general, access to broadband could lead to a declining unemployment rate and see up to $80 billion in revenue generated by small businesses in rural areas. Like residential internet users, business internet users are more reliant on digital services and tools than ever. The pandemic has ushered in a new wave of residential and business internet users alike, further increasing daily web traffic and data usage.
Top Business Internet Providers in 2021
A wide range of business internet providers also offer residential internet, so you’ve probably come across these ISPs before. However, there are differences in pricing, data caps, and speeds. We recommend checking in with the ISP’s sales representative to confirm the available prices and speeds in your area. Without further ado, let’s take a look at our top choices for business internet providers.
|Provider||Connection Type||Monthly Price Range*||Data Caps||Download Speeds**|
|Verizon Fios Business||Fiber||$69-$249||None||100-940 Mbps|
|Comcast Business||Fiber||$69.95-$499.95||None||35-1000 Mbps|
|Windstream Business||DSL or Fiber||Starting at $49.99||None||25-1000 Mbps|
|Frontier Business||DSL or Fiber||$34.99-$239.99||None||12-940 Mbps|
|AT&T Business||DSL or Fiber||$40-$550||1 TB-Unlimited||50-1000 Mbps|
|CenturyLink Business||DSL or Fiber||$49-$65||1 TB-Unlimited||10-1000 Mbps|
|Spectrum Business||Cable||$49.99-$249.99||Unlimited||200-940 Mbps|
|Cox Business||Cable||$95-$195||1.25 TB||50-940 Mbps|
|Viasat Business||Satellite||$50-$500||200 GB||35-100 Mbps|
|Rise Broadband Business||Fixed Wireless||$69.96-$109.95||None||50-100 Mbps|
*Promotional rates subject to change. Fees and taxes may apply.
**Download speeds vary by location.
Best Affordable Business Internet — Verizon
Pros: Affordability can be subjective, but Verizon’s most expensive business internet plan runs on the cheaper side than other ISPs’ highest-priced plans. At $249 per month with a three-year price guarantee, Verizon’s Gigabit Connection plan includes a phone line with no steep activation fees. The last thing we want to do is pay more than what’s advertised, so it’s great to know that Verizon won’t sneak up on us with price hikes or hidden fees.
Cons: Verizon is one of the ISPs that require contracts with their business internet plans, and the length ranges between 12-36 months. There’s also a high volume of high latency complaints, which can disrupt video conferences and work-related tasks. Latency is a recipe for a decline in productivity during business operations.
Best Contract-Free Business Internet — Spectrum
Pros: Unlike Verizon, Spectrum offers contract-free business internet plans. Better yet, their high-speed plans are affordable, with download speeds ranging from 200-940 Mbps. There aren’t any data caps either, so you have unrestricted access to Spectrum’s cable internet service. No monthly contracts mean no early termination fees, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
Cons: Their download to upload speeds aren’t symmetrical — upload speeds are significantly slower. This can be a turnoff for businesses that constantly upload large files. As the saying goes, time is money, and the longer you wait for a file to upload, the less productive you feel.
Best Unlimited Data Business Internet — Xfinity
Pros: Xfinity excels in offering unlimited data for all of their business internet plans — a godsend for data-heavy businesses. Their download and upload speeds are symmetrical as well, reaching up to 1,000 Mbps. Comcast has the strongest uptime guarantee of 99.998 percent, which means that businesses are online almost 100 percent of the time.
Cons: Their monthly rates aren’t the most affordable, as the highest-priced plan costs $499.95 per month. We’re also not too fond of their limited fiber coverage. Comcast is known for their hidden fees, so it’s best to proceed with caution if you’re eyeing their business internet service.
Best High-Speed Business Internet — AT&T
Pros: While fiber speeds are worth boasting about, AT&T’s DSL internet for businesses is surprisingly speedy. Their fiber internet plans have download speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps while their DSL plans go up to 500 Mbps. If AT&T’s fiber internet isn’t available in your area, it’s more likely that you’ll have access to their DSL internet.
Cons: AT&T’s gigabit speeds are riveting, but not the price. Their highest-priced business internet plan costs $550 per month, potentially turning away business owners who can’t afford their fiber internet. On that note, AT&T has limited fiber coverage so if you’re looking for affordable fiber internet plans, you might be better off with Verizon Fios.
Best Rural Business Internet — Viasat
Pros: As one of the few satellite internet providers in the U.S., Viasat offers various high speeds with their business internet plans. Download speeds range from 35-100 Mbps, which is noticeably faster than their residential internet speeds. We also like that there’s no hard data cap, so Viasat won’t immediately shut off our internet when we’ve reached our limit.
Cons: Viasat requires a 24-month contract, and their business internet plans aren’t the most budget-friendly. Customers have experienced high latency and slower speeds, thanks to throttling. Generally, we recommend other ISPs if they’re available in your area rather than opting for satellite internet as you can get the same speeds at a lower price.
Recap of the Best Business Internet in 2021
Shopping for business internet isn’t too different from shopping for residential internet, but there are points to keep in mind for the former. For one, you have to account for a higher number of internet users within your business. Here’s a recap of what you should consider when shopping for business internet:
- Business internet is pricier than residential internet
- Large corporations require faster speeds than small businesses
- Prices and speeds are decisive factors and vary by location
- Most ISPs don’t incorporate data caps for their business internet plans
- Bundles may save you more money but aren’t always necessary for certain businesses
Reliability and security are just as important, if not more. Since ISPs prioritize and optimize internet performance for businesses, it’s likely that you won’t encounter issues as you would with residential internet. Who’s to say you can’t sign up for a business internet plan for residential use? Overall, business internet might seem like a whole new ballgame, but if you’ve been in the broadband market long enough, you’ll realize that most aspects are familiar.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Business Internet in 2021
Why does business internet cost more than residential internet?
Business internet costs more than residential internet because the additional features and higher speeds help optimize business operations and account for the large number of employees. For this reason, internet service providers also tend to prioritize uptimes for business internet.
What is the best internet speed for businesses?
The best internet speed for businesses depends on the number of connected devices or users, but the baseline is 150 Mbps for 10-15 connected devices or users. For businesses with more than 30 connected devices or users, 1,000 Mbps is the premium speed.
What’s the difference between business internet and residential internet?
The difference between business internet and residential internet is mainly better performance. Residential internet has more restrictions in terms of speeds and connection while business internet receives higher speeds and a dedicated connection. Internet providers prioritize business internet to help their customers’ businesses from losing customers.
What is the best business internet for small businesses?
The best business internet for small businesses varies by customer and their needs. If you’re looking for affordable business internet, Verizon Fios’ plans range between $69 to $249 per month. If you live in a rural area, Viasat’s satellite business internet offers widespread coverage. AT&T’s business internet has exceptional high speeds.