How to Choose the Right Flavour of Broadband for Your Business

Broadband connectivity is now essential for many businesses and it can be complicated to choose the correct solution for your company requirements. This article will approach the question of “Which broadband do we need?” from a different angle and not just compare broadband tech, and the product pros and cons.

Firstly, it is obviously important to consider your company´s needs – what do you want and need to be able to do with a broadband connection?

Yet, it is even more important to consider not just what you want to happen once you have a broadband service, but what you want to NOT happen.

All technology services will have downtime- There is no “If it fails…”; it will always be “When it fails…” 

The impact on your business of being disconnected or offline can be critical, cause you to lose income and profits, deny you access to vital data, as well as causing undue stress, and loss of time and money.

For instance, you may:

  • rely on ecommerce for sales
  • use online accounting and billing
  • be heavily dependent on cloud services
  • need to network with remote or satellite offices
  • use VoIP and email for all communications
  • use shared calendars
  • use online collaboration and project management tools
  • need time-sensitive data that is only available online (e.g. for bookies, stock brokers etc)
  • have CCTV accessible over the internet
  • bank and pay bills online
  • have 101 other mission critical needs.

With some companies, downtime may only cause a minor hiccup in the working day, especially if none of the above services are used or relied upon. You may not even need to consider a business broadband connection if downtime will not render you and your staff unproductive, and at a loose end, or cut off from the world. However, endeavouring to run a multi-million pound business on a £40 ADSL2+ service or even FTTC is certainly unwise, if not suicidal!

Looking at other businesses, a degradation of the service, lengthy times to repair, poor continuity and performance, broadband unfit for your purpose, loss of access to services and so on, may be deal breakers that lead you easily to the right choice of technology and supplier.

It is important before procuring any service to give serious consideration to the impact on YOUR business should the worst happen (big and rare), or even a common but small event. (See below diagram). This consideration needs to take into account all the services that you are reliant upon that are online.

Expect the Worst to Happen – it´s Telecoms

No technology is perfect. No supplier can guarantee 100 % uptime, and in the online world of today, you should also expect the unexpected.  Think risk = hazard x impact: how likely is an event to occur (hazard), and what loss might you sustain if it occurs (impact)?

Examples of events that could impact your broadband

Please add other events that have impacted your business in the comments below. Thanks.

Unexpected events that could not easily be predicted could be, for instance, new regulations in a foreign land which suddenly renders all of your data in that region to be inaccessible. We have seen this with the impact of EU GDPR rules which has meant that some USA sites are no longer available to Europeans, for instance.

Similar unexpected events could also lead to your cloud services, sales points, social media, etc  becoming unavailable. The recent 7 hour outage of Facebook for instance, as well as other similar outages out of your control, such as Amazon AWS, could have considerable impact on your company, both long and short-term.

Aside: It is worth noting that Amazon have not yet seen an entire data centre go down, but that does not mean it will not happen in the future, and more and more services are using AWS as their data hosts. (See which major companies were using AWS in 2017 and Amazon AWS Case Studies). This could include your credit card payment processor, website hosting company, software as a service providers eg Adobe, supplier websites, and more. (It would also include Netflix, but that´s more personal than a business need!)

Technology Drawbacks

Most importantly, there are known problems with each technology and only you can consider what impact, negative or positive, these will have on your company, employees, customers and suppliers. Once you have decided what you do not want to happen, you need to carefully consider the pros and cons of the technologies available that are fit for your purpose, bearing in mind also availability in your area, cost etc.

ADSL and VDSL suffer drop-out issues and continuity problems (it is after all a mere pair of twisted copper wires intended for voice calls, not data). Then, there are line retrains, which can for instance upset your video call when the retrain occurs in the midst of your conversation. All neighbouring properties may upgrade after a sustained marketing attack by the incumbent or a localised supplier, and your connection will then suffer crosstalk, lower speeds, and degradation.

Mobile Broadband tech such as 4G and the much touted 5G (which is not yet available and hence not yet suitable to consider as business broadband choice in UK), also suffers multiple problems, none of which you can have much control over. (Although opening an office in a location where there is no mobile coverage at all is under your control and may not be the wisest move).

Highly asymmetrical connections (usually faster download than upload) may prove particularly unsuitable for your business, for instance, if you have regular huge data back-ups (e.g. terabytes of architectural blueprints), or updates with millions of frequently changing data points, or massive file sizes needing to be sent quickly eg high resolution video, Xrays, and so on). The nature of these “failure modes” and possible mitigration strategies will vary by enterprise need and deployment scenario.

Telecom Trivia: The A in ADSL stands for asymmetric. The V in VDSL stands for Very. Honestly!

Leased lines and full fibre products, such as FTTP, carry a cost burden, especially because full fibre is not yet ubiquitous across the UK, and you may need to pay over the odds for installation and rental. However, this may be precisely what your company needs to be able to operate in the 21st century.

Conclusion

The main considerations for choosing a broadband technology, and then a provider should begin from that point of : What business impact of service failure do we NOT want to happen. You need to have foreseen possible events and taken on board what such events will mean to your business. You will also need crisis management strategies and responses in place.

You will need to consider the importance of continuity (outages etc) and performance (eg line degradation, latency).

Then, you need to consider redundancy – what happens if that connection goes down? You will need a second connection, preferably a different technology and definitely from a different supplier, to stay online.

You must consider if the tech you have chosen is a) fit for purpose b) available c) affordable.

For more help choosing the correct business and enterprise broadband for your company, give Express Telephony a call today.

Details of all our products can be found on

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