Date posted: 8 October 2021 – Category: Cabling Services
Slow Internet is the bane of every modern business. How exactly can you forecast how fast your business broadband should be?
Unreliable broadband isn’t always as explosive as servers going down or fibre cuts flipping the switch on your entire network. Files taking too long to upload, training videos that could have loaded a few minutes faster–the true cost of slow Internet to your average business can go unseen.
Until the last couple of years, when COVID forced the majority of employees to work from home. Around 86 percent report being affected by slow broadband, losing an equivalent of half an hour’s work every day. That’s nearly a month lost per year.
Businesses can’t afford to be negligent when it comes to broadband. But throwing money at the problem isn’t the solution, either. You don’t want to pay anymore than you actually need, especially when business broadband plans cost hundreds of pounds a month.
Hard data drives decisions at work. Figuring out the right broadband speeds for your organisation is no different. Speed tests, site surveys, and network usage data can give you an idea of the minimum you need to operate.
Of course, just because something works, doesn’t mean it’s enough. Next, you need to determine whether your current broadband plan is sustainable or if it’s time for an upgrade.
Nearly a decade ago, businesses would only have to account for one device per employee. At most, two. However, that math isn’t as straightforward now, muddied by the ever expanding network of IoT devices going online at work.
The ratio is no longer 1:1. A single user could be using multiple devices to work. The average millennial, which is the group that makes up the majority of today’s workforce, owns around 4.9 connected devices that they use to work in varying capacities.
Headcounts alone won’t be enough to accurately capture your broadband requirements. Businesses also have to factor in the shared IoT devices around the office, such as printers, security cameras, or VoIP phones.
Many devices also run background programs that take up bandwidth, even when they’re idling. “If all your devices are synchronizing all your apps, then you’ve added a lot of traffic even though you’re not actively watching all your screens,” says Matt Belanger, an IT executive.
Of course, the number of devices on your network is only a part of the equation. A team of five can present the same load as an entire floor when every one of them is uploading gigabit-sized files on the daily.
A small office of around ten people doing basic things like sending emails, browsing, and file transfers can comfortably work with 100Mbps. But that minimum can quickly scale when you start adding devices such as VoIP phones, if you’re constantly transmitting data from and onto a cloud application, or do frequent backups.
Requirements may also change based on industry. For instance, in healthcare facilities, where broadband and bandwidth capacity can be a matter of safety, the recommendation is for a network that can support 10Gbps.
Switching plans or providers can be a tedious process. You have to present the business case again to multiple decision makers, and coordinate the office for installation. That’s why future plans need to be considered when choosing a broadband plan.
And we’re in an age where broadband requirements are expected to climb as businesses foist more of their workload onto cloud apps. Average demand for data has risen by 80 percent over the past two years, according to Ofcom. While an oversized plan may seem like an unnecessary cost at present, future proofing your network allows you to stay agile as you adopt or pivot technological strategies.
So, now you have an idea of the average bandwidth requirements of your business. The next step would be to choose an internet service provider (ISP). And there’s no dearth of options available.
ISPs will bandy speed and pricing, but businesses will want to look beyond that and at service level agreements for support and upstream and downstream speeds.
Download and upload speeds are two different things, and a lot of plans don’t offer the same transfer rates for both. “The key term for businesses to look for is ‘upload speeds’. This is something you rarely hear about from providers, as they try to give you the minimum amount possible,” says Asad Hamir, founder of tech supplier company Klyk Tech.
If your employees need to constantly send large files out to clients or other offices, you’ll want to look at plans that offer symmetric speeds to ensure you’re not unknowingly signing onto bottlenecks at work.
How quickly your ISP can get your network up and running during outages is another important metric to consider. You’ll want to know how quickly ISPs commit to fixing your network, which can include sending out a team to your site to diagnose issues. Some of the largest ISPs in the UK offer fix times of 5 hours, while others go up to 12.
The ISP and the broadband deal you choose is a big deal. Aside from the fact that your broadband speeds directly impact your bottom line, contracts are typically locked in for a year, if not longer.
TVNET can help you design a networking solution that works for your business and budget. Schedule a free consultation today.
21 Station Road Workshops, Station Rd, Bristol, BS15 4PJ
Matt Day, Director of ICT, Chosen Hill School