Guest blog by Christian Cawley, Contributor at Broadband Genie
In 2020-21, approximately 14.8 million UK homes experienced serious internet outages. Of those, 3 in 10 experienced downtime during working hours, losing an estimated 16 million working days with a potential cost to the economy of nearly £5 billion.
If you work from home and use the internet at all in the course of business, having a broadband backup solution is a smart idea.
Do you need a backup solution?
If your connection has been unreliable, get in touch with your provider they can usually diagnose the issue remotely. If you’re not satisfied the issue has been fixed, you can switch your provider. Use a comparison service to find a broadband deal that suits your needs. Ofcom publishes records of outages in their UK home broadband performance report, BT and Plusnet regularly have the fewest disconnections.
Does your work rely on broadband to the point that things will grind to a halt without internet access? That is the question you need to ask when considering a backup solution.
For example, if your business is largely craft- or service-based, you maybe don’t need the same level of internet access as a clerical, digital creative, or online consultancy.
Maybe if you spend plenty of time outside of the home office, in which case you might already be using a backup without realising it, such as mobile broadband, or even free Wi-Fi in a local coffee shop!
Broadband deals with backup
For those with more demanding internet needs, some providers have begun offering emergency broadband using their mobile networks.
BT, for example, has teamed up with EE to launch Hybrid Connect, which is folded into its Halo (and Halo for business) packages. Hybrid Connect relies on EE’s 4G and 5G mobile networks for internet when fibre broadband is unavailable.
Meanwhile, Vodafone offers a mobile internet backup as part of its Business’ Complete Connectivity and Vodafone Pro packages.
However, these packages are more expensive than standard fibre broadband. Don’t sign up for any new deals without ensuring the benefits outway the costs.
Can I use my phone’s 4G or 5G as a backup?
Broadband backup solutions use 4G and 5G compatible wireless routers. Consequently, you could use your existing mobile device as a Wi-Fi hub, tethered to your laptop, tablet, or PC.
You’ll need a strong mobile internet signal, but the speed of the tethered connection should be enough. Limits to data use in your mobile internet contract may restrict this option, however, so beware of additional costs.
Remember that this is a backup solution, for occasional use. Phones are not designed for prolonged use as Wi-Fi routers. However, this is probably the easiest and quickest solution for most people.
Mobile broadband backup
As mobile broadband makes a good backup solution, it is worth investigating what plans are available. Speed should be enough with a good 4G or 5G signal (check before committing), contracts can be reasonably priced from the right provider and PAYG options are also available.
On a SIM-only deal, you can use an old mobile device or USB dongle. Some internet providers also offer mobile internet hotspots or routers.
Some modern home broadband routers support SIM cards and USB dongles, so you can ensure uninterrupted connectivity by configuring this ahead of time. In the event your fixed-line broadband fails, the mobile network will take over.
Will my company cover the cost?
If you work from home with your own business, check with your accountant for the current rules on allowed expenses.
Allowed by your employer to work from home? Again, it’s worth checking if your employer will cover the cost of your backup internet connection. There is also a chance they already have mobile broadband routers that you can use, so enquire about this also.
It’s worth noting that your ISP may give compensation for outages. Traditionally this is a feature that was offered by business broadband but there are now many home broadband providers signed up to the Ofcom automatic compensation scheme.
Not everyone needs a broadband outage backup solution. But if you do, several options are available. Signing up for a package with broadband backup is more expensive, so take the time to weigh up the cost of doing so versus the potential advantage. You may find that simply switching to your existing mobile internet connection is good enough.