The Internet is a huge part of our daily lives in any town or city, whether you are at work or sat in the garden. The incessant buzz of devices talking to us and each other is simply a fact of life that no one could easily encumber or even resist.
The Internet at work, however, is a tool that we use to discover details and solutions every minute of our working day. Our ability to access knowledge is now incomparable to what it was twenty years ago and as a result, downtime or slow speeds are a massive cost to any enterprise or boutique business.
The type of Internet connection a business uses will depend on requirement, budget and geographical location as well as what technologies have been made available by their communications or IT partner. There are many different technologies now that can get you connected in many different ways and by using various different physical transports (cables, radio, microwave etc.) that offer fantastic opportunities to reduce waiting times as well as costs.
The various connection types are divisible into categories of user and that is the best way to think of them. The type of product you need is the primary focus in these cases – does it do what you need it to do? 0 otherwise you should be looking elsewhere. In the case of a small business with less than ten employees that doesn’t rely on the Internet for their primary business function (i.e. you are not on-line retail or SEO marketing or similar) then a contended, residential type connection will keep you afloat most of the time as long as you can put up with 90% reliability. If you are ‘out in the sticks’ then perhaps this reliability will fall to 70% your provider needs to make you aware of this before any contracts are signed.
Starting with your requirement then, we can make choices a lot simpler based upon absolute facts. If you are in any way dependent on your Internet connection in order to conduct your primary business function, you require a managed service. Now a managed service means one simple thing, that your provider is liable for your connection speed and quality and monitors the connection constantly in order to maintain that service. Part of the service, therefore, is providing a router and monitoring hardware that lives in your premises and signals back to the provider the current condition of the line 24 hours-a-day. It also means that the service is uncontended and dedicated to you; we will come back to these two terms shortly.
If your business is not one-hundred-percent reliant on constant Internet connectivity and you can afford lapses in performances during busy periods then a contended service will be a more fitting alternative financially. A contended service means that your service is shared between other customers in your immediate geographic area (such as the same street or postcode) and that the service is provided to the area and then subdivided to each customer. As a result the bandwidth is not reserved to you alone as in a managed service, but split between all the customers and provided on a ‘best effort’ basis. This is why home connections fluctuate in quality at busy times, especially with technologies like NetFlix and iPlayer etc. which use large amounts of bandwidth. A contended connection may be as much as ten times cheaper than a dedicated one, as you are sharing a dedicated connection with up to fifty other customers..
FTTC, VDSl and ADSL are all types of technology that are referred to in the media as ‘fibre’ or ‘broadband’ and which are all contended. All residential services are contended unless you specifically request a dedicated service and are subject to service degradation at busy times. The simple way of thinking about it is that the dedicated service is brought to the telephone exchange or roadside cabinet and the customers fight over the bandwidth.
These technologies can rely solely on fibre ethernet in cases such as some of the Virgin Media offerings, but in most cases they are ethernet delivered to a cabinet which is then sent to your home over traditional copper cable using VDSL technology which is a higher bandwidth version of ADSL which is otherwise known as traditional broadband.
A dedicated, managed service can be delivered in a number of ways, to a greater number of customers than ever before, and for less outlay. New technologies like EoFTTC offer ethernet managed services with uncontended bandwidth to remote area along miles of old-fashioned copper cabling, meaning that even the remotest business and retail estates can get access to managed services without having to pay for dedicated fibre lines to be laid. As a result, companies that used to be inhibited by landowners and farm regulations can now start to enjoy the reliability and speed of a dedicated, managed service.
EoFTTC is an improvement of a technology called EFM which sends ethernet style (the same structure that your local area network uses) down traditional copper for the first mile. EoFTTC extends the range of this technology from the roadside cabinet to customers that may be three or four miles away. EFM and EoFTTC are great products for remote businesses as they offer the advantages of a dedicated services without the installations costs and delays of digging a dedicated tunnel for the fibre service cables.
The essential differences between the EoFTTC solution and dedicated fibre ethernet products is one of capacity. A single 100/100-megabit ethernet service means that you are going to be receiving a managed one-hundred-megabit service on a one hundred megabit ‘bearer.’ A bearer describes the infrastructure that your service is provided across and represents the maximum ever bandwidth that the circuit in question can provide. For instance, a 10/100 Mb (a ten-megabit service on a one-hundred-megabit bearer) service can only ever be upgraded to 100MB, and no further.
Because many services across Europe and the rest of the world already massively exceed the 100mb requirement, 100/100 services can be procured quite cheaply and so it is worth investigating the costs of a full ethernet service on a 100MB bearer before you decide to go for EoFTTC as you may find you can quintuple your service for only a small sum per month.
Ethernet fibre and other managed solutions offer opportunities for greater variety of service because the bandwidth you have is dedicated to you. This means that you can assign different parts of the service to different roles because no one else is sharing that service – it is dedicated to you and you alone. You can, therefore make use of technologies such as VLAN. A VLAN is a Virtual Local Area Network which means that it is entirely private from other traffic. This does not mean that the traffic has been encrypted, as in a VPN (Virtual Private Network – which would be the solution for contended services) but that it is separately routed and so makes no contact with other traffic from layer-2 upwards of the OSI network model. This means that you can effectively connect offices or networks together using third party connectivity without fear of your data being spied upon.
Wireless and LoS (Line-of-Sight) services also allow for you to share connections between offices and buildings without actually having to go to a third party at all. Many of the wireless products available now can cover hundreds of kilometres and give decent bandwidth without having to install any services from any third party. Some of the Ubiquiti airFiber equipment, for instance, can transmit and receive data right across the UK without any external services being laid or installed. The service has to be sufficiently secured as it is essentially Wi-Fi fired in a narrow beam, but it is a great cost saver and a system that will continue to work throughout communication outages as long as you can continue to provide both ends of the connection with power.
Wireless networks must be secured by using WPA-PSK or WPA2 encryption standards that prevent others from intercepting or altering data in transit. Speak to one of our analysts to get your network secured.
Our prices are calculated on distance from the nearest Point of Presence or PoP or by other means. Speak to a specialist to get an exact figure.
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