In today’s digital world, internet connectivity plays a pivotal role in all business communications, but what is best for your business?
Without a fast and reliable business internet connection, most businesses, large and small, would grind to a halt, but how do you select which product offers you the most resilient solutions, and what happens in the event of failure?
Despite such a substantial dependency on connectivity for business operations, the different options and plans can be confusing, frequently resulting in businesses selecting their connectivity based on speed, market familiarity and price, without factoring in the more critical considerations for a business internet connection, such as usage, suitability, and resilience.
In this blog post, we examine the options available for connecting your business to the internet, explaining the differences between standard Broadband and Ethernet connectivity, and evaluate why purchasing a cheaper platform, will potentially lead to greater expenditure or risk later down the line.
Due to its wide availability throughout the UK, the use of Broadband technologies, such as FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and cable services are common for both residential and small business enterprises, with services delivered by recognised providers such as BT, Virgin Media and Sky, with BT being the largest internet provider in the UK.
A FTTC internet connection is delivered over the existing copper telephony infrastructure, offering fast connectivity speeds at a reasonable price, whilst suitable for residential use, it does not always offer businesses the performance or resilience they require.
Because Broadband uses a shared public network, your business is connecting to the same pipe as many other residential and business properties, meaning, at times the sheer volume of traffic will result in performance degradation.
In addition to the fluctuating performance speeds, broadband telephone lines are also susceptible to signal loss and outages. Failure and outages on broadband lines are common, this can be caused by environmental issues, storms, flooding etc, or accidental damage to the line. In these scenarios fault resolution can cause lengthy service downtimes.
For businesses that want a dedicated, high-quality internet connection, an ethernet, or leased line is recommended. Whilst an ethernet connection is more expensive, you are guaranteed a faster and more reliable service.
A leased line is a dedicated, fixed-bandwidth data connection that offers uncontested throughput via a dedicated fibre optic connection. It allows data-hungry businesses to have a reliable, high-quality internet connection with guaranteed throughput speeds, uptime, and resilience. As the connection is dedicated to you, you’ll receive 100% of the provisioned speed, guaranteed.
Due to its robustness and built-in resilience, having an Ethernet business internet connection means that faults, whilst still possible, are in fact extremely rare. Availability is usually in excess of 99.9%.
If a fault were to happen with the ethernet connection, resolution times are typically much shorter than a standard broadband fault. SLAs (Service Level Agreements) on ethernet connections might typically feature fix times of just a few hours, compared to fix times of one to two days (possibly longer) for Broadband.
How does a leased line SLA differ from a standard broadband connection?
As a leased line is a dedicated fibre connection between the customers premises and the local exchange, carriers can offer service level guarantees that ensure speedy fault resolution.
Total Loss of Service:
- Leased Line – 6 Clock Hours to resolution 24/7
- FTTP, FTTC & ADSL – 48 Clock Hours to resolution
Speed and or Packet Loss:
- Leased Line – 6 Clock Hours to resolution 24/7
- FTTP, FTTC & ADSL – No guarantee can be offered for throughput speed or packet loss. “Best Endeavors Delivery”
Fault types and how they’re handled
- A fault on a leased line can be reported 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- A leased line has a 6-clock hour fault-to-fix SLA
- A leased line has historic data logs showing uptime, throughput, and packet loss
- A typical broadband connection has limited support hours, long repair SLA’s and little to no historic data.
Failover – What are the options, and how is it done typically?
There is risk that a network/physical event can disrupt a leased line. For example, physical damage to either the local network or exchange (cable break, flooding, power, fire etc.). It is, therefore, necessary to consider building in resilience to a service. The most common connection configurations and their resilience scoring are shown below.
- Basic – Two similar connections from the same carrier coming in via the same ducting and terminated into the same router
- Better – Two separate connections from two separate carriers terminated into two separate routers
- Best – Full Resilience. Two separate connections routed from separate exchanges, delivered via separate ducting to separate routers
When designing your business internet connection, it is necessary to consider the most resilient path for delivering the service.
Type 1 – Resilient Access:
Resilient access is where you have primary and secondary lines with similarly routing connecting to the site.
- Single Router Resilient Access: This is where you have a single router with two internet connections (Primary & Backup) carried by the same network provider.
- Dual Router Resilient Access: This is where you have two internet connections being delivered to two separate routers carried by the same network provider.
Type 2 – Diverse Access:
Diverse Access is where you deliver multiple services via either separate carriers or via diversly separate paths.
- Single Carrier Diverse Access: This is where you have a single carrier delivering two diversely routed services via two separate fibre paths via separate exchanges, through separate ducting and into separate routers.
- Dual Carrier Diverse Access: This is where you have two separate carriers delivering two separate diversely routed services to two separate routers.
Hybrid Connectivity Options
In terms of performance and service levels, Ethernet is undoubtedly a superior choice to broadband for a business internet connection. But for many businesses, particularly smaller ones, the inflated costs of Ethernet make it inaccessible due to their limited budgets. However, there are some hybrid solutions available offering performance closer to that of Ethernet that can work out more cost-effective for organisations wishing to secure greater performance without the hefty price tag.
- Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) – Fibre to the Cabinet involves running fibre cables from your local exchange, to the street cabinet. From here, the connection to your business is via the traditional path. As FTTC is basically a Broadband product, services are normally delivered over a shared network, with a lower SLA than Ethernet. FTTC is cheaper than a leased line or EoFTTC.
- Ethernet over FTTC (EoFTTC) – EoFTTC is the use of a FTTC (as above) connection to provide an Ethernet service. The service differs in that the customer’s connection is handed off to a dedicated Ethernet network, rather than a shared Broadband network. This service is provided with the same high performance as fibre optic and EFM Ethernet services and is installed in similar time to standard FTTC. The time to fix a fault is longer, typically eight hours, or one business day. EoFTTC is cheaper than a leased line, but dearer than FTTC.
- Business-grade Broadband – For some businesses, a standard Broadband product may be the only viable option. It is however worth noting the service limitations of a product like this, and where possible, a FTTC based product should be considered.
Which business internet connection option is right for you?
To summarise, when choosing a connection for your business, you should consider the following
- Primary Circuit Type – This is the main point of consideration. The key differences between a basic broadband connection and a business-grade internet connection is service level guarantees and circuit performance.
- Circuit Failure – How will a loss of connection affect your business? What is an acceptable amount of downtime, and what will that downtime cost?
- Circuit Resilience – If downtime is not an option, then failover with the most resilient path needs to be achieved. Additionally, the bandwidth of the resilience needs to be considered.
If you require any assistance with selecting, or evaluating, which is the most appropriate and reliable business internet connection type to suit your requirements, please get in touch with us on 01932 232345 or fill in the form below.