Over the years broadband has become more and more crucial to businesses. In some workplaces the loss of connection can result in all work grinding to a halt.
Although the internet is now often referred to as the “fourth utility” it cannot be bought like the other utilities where the product is exactly the same and so the only differentiator is price.
The main types of connectivity are as follows;
ADSL – a telephone line based service which can deliver maximum speeds of 24Mbps download and 1Mbps upload. Speeds drop drastically the further you are from the exchange.
FTTC – Fibre to the cabinet means higher speeds at street level but then the “last mile” is usually delivered on standard copper telephone lines which again means speed drops off significantly dependent on your distance from the cabinet. FTTC can usually deliver maximum speeds of 80Mbps download and 20Mbps upload.
FTTP – Fibre to the premise is normally a pure fibre solution all the way up to your door. This is a great product however be sure to check contention ratios and focus on guaranteed speeds not headline speeds. FTTP speeds vary dependent on service and provider.
Leased lines (DIA) – Leased lines or direct internet access are a 1:1 contended product meaning the line is solely for your use and the speed you pay for is guaranteed. The speed is also symmetrical so if you had a 100Mb leased line this would be both download and upload.
Dark Fibre – is not really a broadband product but it is the best way to deliver point to point connectivity. If you have multiple offices dark fibre is the way to connect them together. Not many providers offer this as you pay a set monthly fee and you have control of your speeds meaning they can’t really ever charge you more.
So now you know the main internet delivery methods what else do you have to look out for?
Speed – Headline speeds are an upper a limit and are very unlikely to be representative of what you will actually receive. We advise our customers to look at the guaranteed speed and if that is enough for you then the package may be suitable. An example is the KCOM Lightstream 1Gb package. Headline speeds are a whopping 1000Mbps however the guaranteed speed is only 100Mbps download and 50Mbps upload. If this is sufficient then this product will be okay, if not keep shopping!
Download limits – If you can check your usage then do so and ensure the limits on any new package are sufficient to account for this. Most providers offer a set fee per month to pay to upgrade to unlimited. Our advice would be to pay this. £10 per month extra versus £1 or £2 per Gb used outside of limit is a good bet in our opinion.
SLA’s – Service level agreements is the guarantee of how quick your connection will be repaired should a fault occur. Critical faults should have a rapid response time. You will find the SLA is better the higher level the product is. For example leased lines will carry far better SLA’s than ADSL. How much money would you lose if you had no connection for x amount of time? This is a good question to ask yourself.
Contention ratio – This is how many users share that line. As we mentioned earlier leased lines are 1:1 so is only for you. A lot of ADSL services are 50:1 and FTTP can be 128:1. If your line is too contended you may see slower speeds. A good network provider will publish their contention ratios.
Think about the future – Most contracts for broadband are now between 24-60 months. When buying your service try not to think of what you need today but what you will need 12/36/48 months in to your contract. Ensure there is an upgrade path for you to follow if you are signing in to a longer term and try to find a provider that offers upgrades for free.
Resilience – Can you afford a second line? If so this should ensure you have almost 100% up-time. For larger businesses a second connection is a must.
There are other aspects to look at but these are the main points.
If you need any help with any internet related queries you can reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01482 241234