If you’ve ever shopped around for a good broadband deal for your house then you might have come across “Business Broadband” packages from various internet service providers (ISP’s). But what is a business broadband package and why should your business choose it over regular broadband?
In businesses, there could be tens or even hundreds of computers and other devices being connected to a network. As you might expect, this simply cannot typically be achieved through the typical ADSL connection in many cases.
Another big difference is the data transfer speeds – which is commonly expressed as “mbps” which stands for Mega Bits per-second. This denotes the amount of packets which are being sent along the connectivity at any given time. The higher the “mbps”, the faster the internet experience for the end user or client. The average speed of internet in the UK is 35.7mbps (40mbps being the sold speed) – that’s according to the state of the internet from Akamai which was conducted from the 3rd quarter (Q3) of 2013.
However, the internet speed depends on the type of connection that it is travelling on.
The most common broadband connection types covering 80% of the UK, but also one of the slowest forms, is Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) which has a max download speed of 24mbps and an upload speed of 1mbps. Although many businesses use ADSL, many of them are upgrading to more up to date internet connectivity such as fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) or Leased lines. ADSL doesn’t use cabinets to connect to the internet but instead uses telephone lines in a similar way to dial-up but at a faster speed. A cable runs from the Exchange to the house or office via the copper telephone lines. This is then connected to a micro-filter or a modem which splits the phone apart from the internet access delivered from an ISP to a router. The router then delivers Wi-Fi/WLAN and RJ45 LAN cable connections between the router and other devices connected to the network.
Business Super-fast fibre internet, which is also known as Fibre-to-the-cabinet (Or FTTC for short), is one of the more increasingly popular modes of connection and can reach download speeds of 80mbps and an upload speed of 20mbps. This uses a fibre-optic cable that runs from the exchange to the cabinet (The green boxes you see on street corners) and then from there to the establishment where the internet is to be accessed via a copper cable. The speed of data transmission however, depends on the distance between the cabinet and the building as well as the gauge of the cables. The further the building is away from the cabinet, the slower the internet as the cable can only maintain the highest speeds over a certain distance. Both ADSL and FTTC are contended, which can cause speed problems at peak times as you could be sharing the internet bandwidth with a lot of other users including businesses, schools and households which would result in slower internet speeds.
To make matters worse, some ISP’s add caps to the internet connection to leverage their resources and balance the internet availability for everyone within the vicinity. This cap restricts users to a certain amount of “mbps” at peak times. For example – You could have 20mbps down but, due to caps, only receive 10-15mbps down.
EFM, also known as Ethernet First Mile or Ethernet Leased Line, is a service that is often used to connect multiple premises together but can also be used to connect directly to an exchange. Unlike a Fibre Leased Line which requires fibre cables, EFM using existing copper cables which are commonly expressed as “Pairs”. These copper cables transmit the data packets between the buildings. Cost wise, EFM is more cost effective to deploy as there is no need to install any extra cables underground – making installation easier and faster. Although it’s not as fast as Fibre or Wireless leased lines, it still provides a fairly decent speed for most small to medium businesses, but importantly it is “un-contended” which means you don’t share this connection with anybody else. The connection speed is commonly expressed in two ways:
2 Pair = 10mbps (up to)
4 Pair = 20mbps (up to)
*To achieve these speeds, you must be within 100m of the exchange. After 3200m on a 2 Pair connection, packets begin to drop off the network causing very slow or non-existent internet connections, or after 3900m on a 4 Pair connection according to Gradwell. However, EFM is significantly more expensive than ADSL or FTTC.
Fibreline (Fibre leased line) can reach a symmetric speed of 100mbps. This means that the download speed is the same as the upload speed. Fibreline is more beneficial for businesses that consume lots of large data sets such as raw data (uncompressed audio, video and image files) or have a large amount of computers connected to a single network such as an office complex or computer farm. In a similar way to FTTC, Fibreline requires additional fibre-optic cables to be installed on the premise which can be expensive. However, Unlike FTTC, it is not contended and there are usually no caps at peaks times to leverage resources. The private fibre circuit can provide a peer-to-peer connection between two premises or for a direct connection to an exchange for internet access with additional flexibility of the bandwidth. For more stability, some may wish to also include an ADSL failover in case the Fibreline is inaccessible.
Finally there is Wireless leased lines, satellite internet which uses satellites to connect you to the internet. This technology is relatively new but growing rapidly in popularity for businesses. It’s also highly efficient as it allows you to connect to the internet even if you are in a remote part of the country. It works in a similar way to satellite TV and is also uncontended. Wireless leased is the fastest form of internet offering anywhere between 1mbps to 2gbps (Gigabits per second). There is no need to connect to a third party exchange, unlike ADSL or FTTC, as all the connections are handled via satellite. There is however a small limitation. There must be a clear line of site for the internet to be received for the satellite and landlord permission to install the satellite dish on the premises. For businesses that are not able to get fibre-leased lines, Wireless leased is the better way to go as it offers much faster speeds and availability than ADSL, FTTC, EFM or Fibreline. With other types of connections, the availability depends on the area the premise is situated.
In essence, it depends on the business needs to determine which connection type would be best for them, as well as the broadband package they would need. For most small businesses, ADSL is suitable for them, however SME’s that are currently on ADSL may be considering looking at more advanced solutions such as FTTC because you get more speed for a similar price. EFM and Fibreline are more suitable for businesses that operate across multiple sites. If you really want to go “all out” then you may want to look towards an uncontended lease line such as Fibre leased or Wireless leased but ideally, you should consider a failover solution, such as ADSL, for in the case that your Fibreline is unavailable. However, if your business is not able to get EFM or Fibre, wireless leased may be the only option.
To find out more about our business broadband packages, click here.