Small businesses can save with DIY broadband

Businesses that are considering upgrading to a high-speed Internet connection can now make savings by choosing a self-installation product

Small businesses in the UK should consider self-installation ADSL packages as a more affordable way of upgrading to a high-speed Internet connection.

Such a move would reduce their initial one-off costs and cut their monthly subscription charges, compared to buying a standard ADSL package.

BT developed self-installation broadband last year, and after several weeks of testing a number of ISPs are now accepting orders. Unlike previous ADSL packages, when an engineer had to visit a customer's home to install equipment, this new product requires very little installation. The kit can be sent to customers by post for them to fit themselves, thus saving on the cost of the engineer's visit.

Self-installation, or DIY, broadband has been hailed as a way of getting more home users to move to high-speed Internet services. A consumer package will typically be £5 per month cheaper and -- rather than pay a £150 installation fee -- a home user need only pay a £50 activation fee to cover work at the local exchange.

Business customers could make larger savings, though.

ISP Plusnet announced its pricing for DIY business ADSL packages this week. Its Office 500 self-install package will cost £75 per month +VAT, on top of a £50 +VAT activation fee. A standard ADSL package offering the same download speed of up to 500kbps, and contention rate of 20 to one, would cost £95 per month +VAT with a £260 +VAT installation fee.

Plusnet's higher-specification products, the Office 1000 and Office 2000 self-install packages, both also offer a saving of £20 +VAT per month and £210 +VAT in start-up costs.

The high-end Office 2000 self-install package will allow a user to connect a network of up to 40 PCs to the Internet.

Rival ISP Zen Internet is also passing on these savings to its business customers. Its subscribers will save £210 in start-up costs, and will be charged £5 per month less.

There is one additional cost, though, that self-installation broadband customers face -- they have to buy their own modem. The DIY broadband kit basically consists of a "micro-filter" that fits into a telephone socket and splits voice traffic from data.

ADSL modems currently cost more than £100, but many experts believe that this price will fall sharply once demand takes off. Fujitsu has already created one cut-price package that it hopes to sell via ISPs, and eventually on the high street.

See the Broadband News Section for the latest on cable modems, ADSL, satellite and other high-speed access technologies, including a comprehensive guide to the best deals out there.

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