Your internet connection is an aspect of your business infrastructure that nobody will ever notice, until it’s not working properly. Slow internet speed can frustrate your customers, slow down productivity and limit your access to new technology. You can eliminate many of these problems if you choose the right business internet connection.
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): Megabits are used to measure how quickly a file will transfer. A 1 Mbps connection will transfer a 1MB file in eight seconds.
Gigabits per second (Gbps): This is equal to 1,000 Mbps.
Bandwidth: This is a term that gets used a lot, and even gets tossed around in general conversation as a synonym for capacity (e.g. “I just don’t have enough bandwidth to volunteer for the pie eating contest”). It is also used interchangeably by ISPs with the word speed. To better understand bandwidth, think about the pipes in your house, delivering water to each faucet and shower.
Your pipes allow a certain speed of water flowing through. Increasing bandwidth would be like increasing the diameter of your pipes. The water would flow at the same speed, but there would be more water coming per second. When you increase bandwidth, the rate of your data transfer remains the same, but more data can arrive simultaneously.
Download speed 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. The rate of speed may be stated for both download and upload together, such as up to 100 Mbps/15 Mbps.
In most cases, you’ll need to go digging to find out the upload speed, while the download speed is more clearly stated. These speeds are not guaranteed; the actual speed of your download and upload depend heavily on the computer you’re using, the geographical distance from your ISP, the number of simultaneous users and your access method.
How to Choose the Right Business Internet Connection Speed
There are many factors that go into choosing the right business internet connection speed, but you’ll want to base your decision on your current situation and what technology you expect to support in the future with your internet connection.
For instance, you may have a handful of staff that only utilize email and occasionally utilize websites, but that may change in the future. You might have plans to migrate systems to the cloud or to access a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system. It’s important to consider how your connection speed will support your technology plans. Consider the following when establishing the right speed for your company:
- 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.