Internet access is an essential part of running a not-for-profit, but data speed and bandwidth will determine how many users can connect at the same time and how useful your service is.
How to choose an internet provider
Our advice for selecting an internet provider is:
- If you have an IT support partner that you trust, they are best placed to recommend the type of connection you need (and if you don’t trust them, find a new provider)
- If you need a dedicated network to connect to servers, an older telephony system or some other service that can’t be accessed through the internet, see point 1 above.
- Connecting Up works tirelessly to provide good value internet offers to non-profits, such as TPG Fibre1000, a symmetrical 1000mbps fibre-optic connectivity offered at a hard-to-beat discount to qualifying not-for-profit organisations who need the speed and are suitably located
- If none of the above applies, you should:
- pay only for what you need, based on how many users will need it and what they’ll use it for (if you’re not sure about this, speak to your IT provider, IT consultant or tech foundations expert for advice)
- include an option for future upgrades if your needs grow
- don’t commit to a longer contract than you need – prices tend to come down over time
- review internet comparison sites such as canstarblue or WhistleOut (among others), keeping in mind that these sites are often more focused on residential than business connections, and the fact that they don’t generally include every available option because in some situations they may require a commission to be included in the list.
So you are informed about your options, we’ve provided more detail about the types of internet connections, and benefits of high speed broadband below.
Types of connection
The main types of internet connections you might already have heard of are:
- Fixed line connection: A physical connection to the internet. This could be any number of different technologies, the majority of which are hosted by the National Broadband Network (NBN). Where available, a fixed connection generally offers better connections at the same price point as other options.
- Fixed wireless or satellite: Where a physical connection isn’t suitable, a fixed wireless service may be another option. In this situation, an antenna or dish is installed on the outside of your building and connects to a high-speed signal from your internet service provider.
- Mobile broadband: Mobile broadband uses the same connection as your mobile phone. While it is fast, it can be quite expensive when used regularly. It’s recommended that mobile broadband only be used for light external work.
Benefits of high-speed broadband
- A fast internet connection creates new ways of working with and supporting clients, staff and other organisations
- File transfers and data sharing allows more seamless online communications between organisations and clients. Faster internet speeds allow organisations to make more use of audio and video
- Video conferencing and remote working facilitates working from home
- Real-time and interactive video calls, video conferencing, webinars and online meetings can be more effective communications tools than email or onsite meetings
- Faster networked connections across multiple sites improve remote access
- Internet telephony can lead to savings on communications costs
- Improved staff training through better access to online training and education resources such as webinars, training videos and training programs (for example, Microsoft’s Digital Literacy program).
Things to consider when assessing your needs
- How many users will be using the internet at once?
The more users there are simultaneously online, the more bandwidth (data capacity) is required.
- How much data will my organisation be using?
Unlimited data plans are becoming industry standard. They mean you don’t have to worry about surprise bills or bandwidth reductions after a certain quota of data has been reached.
- How long can I commit to a plan?
Some plans are month-to-month, others have a fixed term. As a rule of thumb, month-to-month plans have tended to be more expensive, but this is no longer always the case.
- Does the network connection meet my needs?
Will your organisation require rural or remote-area connections?