A network switch is a fundamental component of any small business building a network. A switch connects people to network devices and allows them to share information over a local area network (LAN). Because of its importance, purchasing a business network switch can be complicated.

Things have drastically changed since the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is more and more crucial for small to medium-sized companies to invest in their network. To adapt to the high expectations of today’s workforce and customers, they must seriously consider buying a network switch that meets their current and future needs. 

What to Consider When Choosing a Network Switch for Your Small Business

1) Basic Functions to Expect From a Small Business Switch

Even though small businesses come from a variety of industries and have their own unique needs, there are several things all small businesses must look for when purchasing a network switch:

  • High speed
  • Excellent voice quality for business calls
  • Affordability without sacrificing quality
  • Easy setup and use

2) Network Speed

There is a wide range of Ethernet network speeds, the most common of which are:

  • Ethernet (802.11) at 10 Megabits per second (Mbps)
  • Fast Ethernet (IEEE 802.3u) at 100Mbps
  • Gigabit Ethernet (IEEE 802.3-2008) at 1000Mbps (or 1 Gigabit)
  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet (IEEE 802.3a) at 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps)

Ethernet Speeds

The fastest transmission speed is the 10Gbps option. However, it is important to note that this speed has a much larger power consumption than the other options.

The rule of thumb is that the more employees you have, the more speed you need. So, for example, a call center with 30 or more employees who are on the phone or the internet at the same time will most certainly need 1000Mbps of speed. While on the other hand, a small “mom-and-pop” business with just a handful of employees can run quite smoothly with 100Mbps of speed.

3) Number of Ports

Typically, the more ports a switch has, the more expensive it is. Switches come in models with 5, 8, 10, 16, 24, 28, 48, and 52 ports. Large enterprises often use switches with 48 or 52 ports.

GS-4210-48T4S 48 port Switch

A small business owner needs to consider both current and future needs when purchasing a switch. Many small companies find a switch with 16 ports a good solution, and we often recommend it. Please note that one port must be reserved for the Ethernet cable that runs back to the router. If the switch has 16 ports, only 15 will be available for external networking devices.

As switches with more ports are more expensive, you may ask yourself: Is it cheaper to buy two 8-port switches than just one 16-port switch? The answer is yes, but only in theory. Here is the thing: If you purchase two 8-port switches, one port on each switch must be reserved for the cable to the router—which means there will only be 14 ports available for your devices, whereas the 16-port switch will have 15 ports available. You also will not have to deal with setting up two devices. So, in general, one 16-port switch is just more efficient. 

4) Managed or Unmanaged Switch

When it comes to network switch management, there are two choices: unmanaged and managed.

Unmanaged SwitchUnmanaged Switch

Unmanaged switches come with a fixed configuration that cannot be changed or adjusted. They have built-in Quality of Service (QoS) services and basic security and are most often used by small businesses. There are two main benefits of the unmanaged switch:

  1. It is a simple “plug-and-play” device that can be set up and used immediately
  2. It is by far the least expensive solution

Managed Switch

Managed Switch

Managed switches are most often used in companies with a large business scope. These switches allow the user to manually configure, monitor, and manage network devices. They also have more extensive security functions. Depending on the features and number of ports chosen, managed switches can get fairly pricey.

5) Power over Ethernet (PoE)

Recent advances in communications technology, plus the meteoric growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), have significantly changed how the workplace is designed and operated. Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology enables even the smallest businesses to maintain a sustainable and intelligent office.

PoE Explained

PoE technology allows both power and data to be transmitted over a single Ethernet twisted-pair cable to powered devices (PDs) in a network. With PoE, network devices can be placed almost anywhere in an office—even in remote areas with no access to electrical outlets—while reducing the cost of installation and materials. In fact, companies can achieve as much as a 50 percent reduction in energy and a cut of up to 14 percent in annual operating costs.¹

Small Businesses Benefit from PoE

PoE technology benefits small companies in many ways:

  • Cost savings
  • Easy, low-voltage installation
  • Enhanced flexibility and control
  • Wired technology that provides robust, secure, and reliable connectivity

Further, PoE allows a small business to:

  • Merge building systems such as lighting, air, physical security, etc. onto a single IP network—making them easy to maintain, measure, and control
  • Provide better worker experiences by allowing customized adjustments to the room temperature, window shade levels, lighting color and intensity, etc. 
  • Improve office efficiency by allowing the tracking of traffic through the office (e.g., turning off lighting and heating to unoccupied rooms, etc.) 
  • Collect and analyze data such as traffic patterns to help owners predict future usage, needs, and costs.

Planet Technology USA’s GSW-1820HP 16-Port 10/100/1000T 802.3at PoE +2-Port 1000X SFP Gigabit Ethernet Switch

GSW-1820HP PoE Switch

The GSW-1820HP is equipped with 16 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet ports and 2 1000BASE-X SFP interfaces with the inner power system.

  • Ports: 16 10/100/1000TX PoE + 2 1000X SFP
  • Type: Unmanaged
  • PoE Ports: 16
  • Standards: 802.3af/at
  • Total PoE Budget: 240 Watts
  • Power Consumption: Max. 270 Watts/921 BTU
  • Throughput: [email protected]
  • Ethernet Extension: 250m in extend mode, up to 10Mbps
  • Operating Temperature: 0-50°C
  • TAA Compliant

Planet Technology USA is proud of its well-staffed and reliable technical support system. Our knowledgeable staff will ensure you select the best Planet USA product to make your implementation a success. We’d love to help you. Contact us today!



1) Accu-Tech: Small Businesses Can Reap Big Benefits from PoE