Business Internet Options
“It’s all about connectivity” is a phrase often used in networking circles when it comes to the business internet options available. Every day it becomes more relevant. Driving to the office today I saw three adverts in succession promoting Internet services – Sky, followed by Virgin and then BT. Although the themes were slightly different they were all promoting fast broadband. None however, promoted business internet.
In business, cloud computing, online marketing and web based CRM and accounts packages are becoming increasingly popular. And of course, they all demand more and more bandwidth. Unfortunately the big providers concentrate far more on residential customers than internet for businesses as this is where they achieve much higher market penetration. Very few commercial areas are connected to the type of fibre broadband available in residential areas (marketed by BT as ‘Infinity’, or ‘FTTC’ – fibre to the cabinet – as we know it). You may well be waiting until Infinity to get your business connected.
We have conversations with SME businesses every day who struggle with their internet bandwidth available from standard ADSL broadband ( which is still used by 85% of business customers). Business owners and managers are used to paying in the region of £30 per month for their business internet. This is roughly what they would pay at home for watching Netflix, Internet browsing and playing games. However, what was a suitable business service ten years ago (when ADSL was cutting edge) is no longer fit for purpose. One mobile phone will usually cost a business £30-£50 per month, and a business owner would not think twice about their monthly Direct Debit of £250-£500 for their mobile contracts.
Waiting for fibre broadband (such as FTTC / Infinity) will cause immense damage to any business suffering already from poor internet bandwidth. The effect on productivity and staff morale is difficult to measure, but we know many businesses are hampered by their inability to connect to vital services.
Cost aside, many savvy business owners just don’t realise the internet options that are available. These are cost effective solutions for any business struggling with connectivity. In town centres and industrial areas, where fibre broadband is rarely available, both copper and fibre optic ‘leased line’ services offer much faster connection than ADSL. As well as greater, guaranteed internet bandwidth, they provide an ‘uncontended’ service, unlike normal ADSL which is shared between 20 businesses (a contention ratio of 20:1). They provide the same upload speed as download, which is vital for cloud computing, VoIP and those sending large volume files. And perhaps most importantly they come with a Service Level Agreement, unlike normal ADSL broadband.
The copper ‘EFM’ (Ethernet over First Mile) service is much faster than ADSL but is not scalable, unlike the fibre optic service which can be upgraded to either 100mbps or 1000mbps in due course.
In rural areas a wireless radio service can offer tremendous advantages over standard broadband, which often drops out completely due to the increased distance from the exchange. Although in theory the wireless service can be affected by bad weather, this is extremely rare. However, line of sight to a radio transmitter is required for this internet option.
In rural areas not within reach of a radio mast, satellite broadband can offer a viable solution, but these services are typically slow and download limits apply. Another alternative for some businesses, and also for temporary solutions and disaster recovery, is mobile broadband. A mobile SIM card in a wireless dongle or router can provide good connectivity for half a dozen or more people, and if you are in a 4G area, speeds can be excellent. Cost is a consideration for these out-of-town services.
If you would like to know more about the business internet options available to you, get in touch with us.