Should I Setup a Business Internet at My House for Working from Home?

Business Internet plans are often available for those who work at home. While a business account costs more, it can offer better service, a more stable connection, and security features that residential packages don't. Making a decision about residential vs. business Internet depends on the nature of your business, your security needs, and whether you plan to install business service for your employees or freelancers.

A majority of households in the United States now have Internet service. Individuals and families use this service to stream entertainment, connect with others via social media platforms and email, and to get information from Internet sources. Increasingly, people are also using their home Internet connections for work-related activities. If you are one of the millions of people who use the Internet to do your job or to run a business, you may wonder whether it is worth it to get a business Internet plan for your home.

Business Vs. Residential Internet Plans

Internet service providers, also known as ISPs, typically offer two types of Internet service: Business and residential. Residential service is available in homes, while a business plan connects offices, warehouses, retail stores and other business entities to the Internet.

In recent years, the boundaries between dental homes and workplaces have blurred. While self-employed workers, such as freelancers and consultants have often worked from home, many companies now allow workers to telecommute full or part time. In addition, improvements in technology have allowed some companies to eliminate or downsize their offices due to the fact that so many employees can do their jobs from their homes.

Still, most telecommuters and home-based business owners continue to use residential Internet service packages for both work and personal use. As the nature of work evolves, and working from home becomes even more common place, some may wonder if switching from a residential to a business plan makes sense.

How are these two plans different? The exact nature of each type of plans depends on the ISP and the package purchased, but here are some typical differences:

Speeds and Limitations: Business plans may offer higher speeds, more band with and may eliminate data caps and throttling entirely. (It should be noted, however, that most residential customers, even those who work from home, are unlikely to exceed the limitations offered by most midpriced residential packages.)

Customer Service: Poor customer service is an ongoing complaint among many residential Internet customers. ISPs typically operate business and residential Internet service as two separate divisions, and customer service for business accounts is often far superior than what is provided to residential customers.

Security: Business connections may offer a higher level of Internet security than a residential connection. While this may not be terribly important for many people who work at home, in some cases these additional security options, such as having a static IP address, may be critical to business operations.

Email accounts: Depending on the ISP, you may be able to receive multiple free email addresses and mailboxes. If you have employees or prefer to sort your email communication out by business function or division, this perk can come in handy.

Service contracts: One downside to business internet is that you will often have to sign a long-term service contract. If you move or otherwise need to end your contract, you may have to pay a hefty termination fee.

Costs: Business Internet often costs significantly more than residential Internet.

Multi-site capabilities: Business Internet accounts may allow business owners to choose one plan for multiple worksites, reducing paperwork and simplifying installation and customer support.

It should be emphasized that Internet plans, both business and residential, differ significantly between providers, so it is critical to research options before choosing one over the other.

Making a Decision

When deciding whether to choose a residential Internet package or a business Internet package, consider the following:

Owner or Employee?

This is a significant consideration for a number of reasons. First of all, if you are self-employed or a business owner, your business Internet connection might be a tax deductible business expense. If you are an employee, on the other hand, you may not reap any tax benefits by paying more for a business connection.

Another consideration is that some Internet service providers may be able to offer a business connection that allows you to set up and pay for Internet service at the homes of your employees. If you have employees, or even subcontractors, a business Internet account may provide you with the level of flexibility and security you need when managing a group of remote workers.

If you are an employee, a business account may still make sense if your employer requires you to have business account level security features, such as a static IP. You may want to talk to your employer about reimbursing you for the cost of your business Internet service.

Security Needs

If your work from home involves handling highly sensitive information, you may need to purchase a business Internet package to help ensure that you have the level of security that you need. In many cases, the standard features provided through your home Internet service will be sufficient, but the type of work you do, or the data that is transmitted through your service, may demand a higher level of security.

Connectivity Needs

Depending on the kind of work that you do, you may need to maintain consistent connectivity to the Internet at all times. Business accounts may, in some cases, offer significantly better customer service and technical support than two residential accounts. If minimizing downtime is critical to your business or your job, a business account could make good sense.

Employee Management

If you opt for a business Internet plan that allows you to set-up and manage Internet service for employees who work remotely, keep in mind that you may be accountable for how these employees use their Internet service. You may also be on the hook for any damage to rented equipment (such as routers),the failure of an employee to return equipment, or the cost of technician visits to repair or correct issues caused by the employee or the employee's family. Because of these issues, you may decide that you'd prefer to reimburse employees for the cost of their own, individually set up Internet accounts.

Costs and Budget

As noted above, the cost of a business Internet account is often significantly higher than what you would pay for residential service. Due to the superior technical support and security features that you can receive with a business account, you may find that paying more is worth it. In addition, as a legitimate business expense, there may be some tax benefits that offset the higher monthly charge.

Another thing to consider is that many ISPs also offer additional services, such as security systems, smart appliances, cable television, and landline phone service. You may be able to bundle services into one package for your home office or home business and save money that way. However, it is important to keep in mind that telecommunications companies use bundle deals to make it difficult to lower your bill: If you later decide that you don't need phone service or an alarm system, you may not be entitled to a discount on your monthly costs because, as your ISP will tell you, you got a "discount" on your bundled services over what you'd pay for them separately.

Final Word

Not all Internet service is created equal: Business customers often pay more for Internet plans than those opting for a residiental package. However, business accounts often receive priority customer and technical support along with additional security features that can protect both your business and its customers. Talk to your head of IT, attorney, as well as your accountant, to determine your technological, legal, and financial needs before making the decision to purchase business Internet service for your home.

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