Choosing the right business internet connection is an easy way to prevent a lot of problems before they happen. Slow internet speed can frustrate your customers, slow down productivity and limit your use of new technology. As more business tools move to the cloud – and more of our interactions move online – a stable, high-speed connection is critical.
Your internet connection is an aspect of your business infrastructure that nobody will ever notice – until it’s not working. Make sure you have a good understanding of the basics so you can feel confident in your service.
Basic Internet Connection Vocabulary
Start with the basics and learn a few terms so you can easily compare internet service providers (ISPs) and the services they offer.
Megabits per second (Mbps):
How quickly a file will transfer is measured in megabits per second or Mbps. A 1 Mbps connection will transfer a 1MB file in eight seconds. Gigabits per second (Gbps) is equal to 1,000 Mbps.
This term gets used a lot – it even gets tossed around in general conversation as a synonym for capacity (e.g. “I just don’t have enough bandwidth for any new commitments right now”). It is also used interchangeably by ISPs with the word speed.
To better understand what bandwidth is, it helps to think about the pipes in your house. Your pipes allow water to flow through at a certain speed as it is delivered to your faucets, shower and sprinklers. Increasing bandwidth would be like increasing the diameter of your pipes. The water would flow at the same speed – but there would be more of it coming through per second. When you increase bandwidth, the rate of your data transfer remains the same, but more data can arrive simultaneously.
Download versus upload speed:
Most companies that work with general office tools such as email and web browsing will be more concerned with download speed than upload speed. ISPs have traditionally promoted download speeds heavily, and you may need to go digging to find out the upload speed. However, with video conferencing and cloud services becoming more common, upload speeds can be critical to performance.
Pay close attention to the wording around speed promises – often, these speeds are not guaranteed. Most residential packages – and many cheap business packages – will offer “up to” speed promises. If your business is heavily reliant on internet access for your operations, this probably won’t be acceptable. Look for a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that can ensure your performance expectations are met.
Consider if you need symmetrical speeds, aka, the same rate up and down, or if the standard asymmetrical connections will work for you.
How to Choose the Right Business Internet Connection Speed
There are many factors that go into choosing the right business internet connection speed. You’ll want to base your decision on not only your current needs but also what kind of growth you want to see in the future. Choose technology that can support your aspirations – or at least is scalable.
As you grow and hire more people, the demand on your network grows right alongside you. More devices and accounts – plus resource-heavy enterprise software – can quickly strain your internet connection. You might have plans to migrate systems to the cloud or launch a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system. Don’t forget to consider how your connection speed will support your technology plans.
In addition, answering some questions on general use will help guide the decision-making process:
- Is there a seasonal element to your internet use, as with retailers that experience a surge of demand during the holidays?
- Do you use a cloud backup provider, requiring a symmetrical connection so you can upload and download at the same speeds?
- Do you have a large number of remote employees? They may be accessing smartphones and tablets and connecting to the network from their home or out in the field. Remote and mobile connections tend to demand a high level of bandwidth.
It’s also important to note that users’ connection speeds generally increase by 50% each year, so you’ll want to be sure that when you sign a typical two-year contract, you’ll still be experiencing adequate bandwidth at the close of the contract.
Check Your Existing Speed
In order to choose the right business internet connection, you need a good idea of what you’re currently using in your office. There are free speed tests available online that can give you an idea of what type of improvement you’d like to experience. It’s also a good idea to examine the bandwidth requirements for any new digital tools you’re considering. Do you have plans to introduce new smartphones for your sales team, or will you be switching to a cloud version of your ERP solution?
Choose the Right Provider
It’s important to note that in order to choose the right business internet connection, you need to choose the right provider, and offerings can vary between providers. For instance, determine the level of support you’d like to see from your provider. Examine the service level agreement as well as the following:
- What the provider offers in terms of security and uptime
- Average resolution time
- Access to 24/7 technical support
- The average hold time for help desk calls
Some ISPs are more effective at delivering consistency in their internet speeds than others, overcoming obstacles related to geography and network congestion.
Do you need assistance in order to choose the right business internet connection for your specific technology requirements? Contact us at iTel for more information.